Archives for the day Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

Let’s talk the Dog! How not to send confusing message to your dog

 When my dog “Palette” came to my life, I did not know much about dogs. She is my first dog to live with. She is now 3 years old,soon to be 4 years old. During the 3 years with her,I learned so much about dogs and about her.

 Most important thing I learned was that you need to be patient,and be consistent with them. And, every single member in the family must have same rules regarding dogs’ training. If one family member allowed dog on couch,and if others didn’t,you are not sending the clear message to them; what is allowed,what is not allowed, and dogs get confused. There is no consistency in message given to your dogs by family.Even if you are the only one to interact with your dog on spot,you can send confusing message to your dog.

 For example, friend’s dog visits your house. Then, your dog start growling at the dog. Some people could pet the dog saying “Fido,it is okay.It is okay”. You maybe telling your dog that the friend’s dog is not a threat and no need to growl at him,but at the same time,you are sending the message “Good dog,good dog” by petting. Petting is reinforcing him that growling at the dog is good thing.So, your dog gets 2 different messages at one time. What he should follow..

 Training a dog especially needs these two points. If you were teaching their dogs to “come” when called, and if their dog did not respond to the command, they may get frustrated and may raise their voice. When dogs are barking loud non-stop, you may yell at them. If you wanted to clip dogs’ nail,and if they snapped at you,you may use force to clip nails:all nails in one day. All of these can be changed to good behavior by you being patient,consistent and use  simple & effective clicker training..

 If your dog did not come when called, it is not that they cannot hear your voice (They can hear better than human!). They hear your command,but maybe confusing your dog. People naturally tend to say come,come,come until their dogs actually come. So for dogs,they maybe wondering if come-come-come is the cue for come. Dogs don’t understand come-come-come and come are cue for same behavior requested by you. Dogs see no consistency in come command if you were saying “come” one time and next time,come-come-come.

 Easiest way for you to teach your dog to come when called I found is that,dogs naturally like chasing. Many of the dogs love chasing squirrels,balls. Why not human? Call your dogs name and say “Come” and run away from your dog a bit. He should chase after you.So,you just stop at one point,and praise him. If run away yourself were not effective,you can call your dog name,squeak the squeaky toy,run away from him. Dogs love squeaky toy! He should follow you.

 Making training to fun game for them is good idea. There is no need for you to raise the voice when your dog did not come when called.Simply teach “Come” by run away from him,make the training to fun chasing game.

 If your dog were barking at dog passing by for their daily walk, you don’t need to yell at them. They would think you have joined in barking match and,chances are,probably they would keep barking even though you are telling them to stop barking. This is also another example of sending confusing message to your dogs.

 To teach your dog not to bark constantly, all you need is clicker and yummy treats. When he started barking,allow a couple of barks because you do not want to eliminate all of their barking.Barking is their way of communication with you. Then, get the attention from dogs and when he stops barking,click and treat. You can decide command cue such as “Quiet” or “Enough” etc for you to use when you like them to stop barking.

 As for nail clipping,it does not have to be all nail clip in one day.One nail a day is fine.You just need to be patient and try give them a good experience with nail clipping time. Forcing a dog to lay on side or one person hold a dog so that other person clip their nail are not good method to do for nail clipping because what dogs get as message from this experience is that nail clip equal to being forced lay down and it is  a bad experience memory to them.

 When Palette was puppy,I was told by vet tech that it is good practice to touch the paws a lot and get them used to be touched by us. If touching the paws were fine,then,try hold a paw for a second,click and treat. Gradually make the holding time longer and click and treat. When nail clipping time comes, hold the paw,click and treat for several session.No actual clipping. Then,next step can be touch the paw with clipper,click and treat (no actual clipping).If that were ok, actual nail clipping,but just one nail.And click and treat. I went through these steps and,my dog now offer her paw voluntarily. It is also possible that I made the rule that I give particular treat she really likes only when I do nail clipping. So,it might made the value of the treat sky high.

 People tend to rush things,try to do one thing right away,but it doesn’t have to be that way with your dog. Take a time,be consistent,be patient, and send them a consistent clear message for them to understand you. And don’t give up on them. They need time and zillions of repetition to learn things.
Our puppy trainer for Palette has told us that being able to do “sit” inside the house does not mean he can understand “sit” outside. Every little difference in the environment make them think it separate thing so,you need to teach “Sit” outside too (outside is new place for him to learn “Sit” and outside has more distraction around him.) You will teach him “sit” is “sit” on the new spot as well.

 Are you sending a clear message to your dog to communicate with him? I think training your dog from early age is important;getting used to being groomed,being taught what to chew,what not to chew etc.

 Now AKC started training program focused on puppy training called “puppy S.T.A.R. program”. STAR stands for Socialization Training Activity and Responsibility. You can learn a lot of things regarding puppy raising /training etc. For more information,please click here.

 ** Please know that I am not a dog trainer.

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Jun 03, 2009 | Comments are off | Uncategorized