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Posts Tagged ‘dog training’

Teaching Your Dog to Come When Called

November 13th, 2009 7 comments

Dog Trainers Say it is the Most Important Training Command

Teaching one’s dog to come when called may be a live-saving endeavor.  A dog that is running toward a busy highway or encountering some other hazard must be taught to respond immediately to the come command in order to avoid the danger.

What is the Best Way to Teach My Dog to Come When Called?

Dogs Respond Better to Praise and Kindness than to Punishment

Dogs Respond Better to Praise and Kindness than to Punishment

Most dog trainers these days agree that the old style drill-sergeant method of dog training just does not work.  The authors of The Well-Mannered Dog note that dog trainers have come to recognize the obvious:

Dogs are intelligent, sensitive animals who don’t deserve physical punishment.  In fact, they respond a lot better to praise and kindness.

In fact, pack leaders in traditional packs do not rule predominantly by physical aggression.  Rather, dog pack leaders more often rule with mental control and discipline.  With those ideas in mind, here are a few things to avoid when trying to train a dog to respond to the come command:

  • Even if you get frustrated, avoid yelling at the dog.  It is counter-productive and likely to just make the dog want to stay away from you as opposed to come to you.
  • Do not chase the dog.  Depending upon the relationship you’ve already established with your dog, chasing her will be understood as either intimidation or as an invitation to play.  Intimidating the dog into coming when called fails to develop the trust necessary to get her to follow your lead.  And if the dog takes the chasing as an invitation to play, she will just keep running because, in her mind, it is so much fun.
  • Don’t fail to be consistent in your word choice.  If you want your dog to come, and you are teaching him to come using that word as the command, do not expect him to come when you say “stop” or “get over here,” or “come on,” or merely shout his name.

Make Your Dog Want to Come When Called

Teaching Your Dog to Come When Called

Teaching Your Dog to Come When Called

In her excellent book The Loved Dog:  The Playful, Nonaggressive Way to Teach Your Dog Good Behavior, author Tamar Geller insists that games and positive reinforcement are the best dog training techniques.  She suggests the following approach to teaching one’s dog to come:

  • Bend down in a posture that resembles the dog’s “play-bow” position.  “This kind of bow is wolf sign language that implies an invitation to play,” Geller states.
  • Use the dog’s name in addition to the chosen command.  The dog needs to hear her name so she will know you are calling her instead of one of the other dogs in the dog park, for example.  Thus, “Come, Lucy” is better than just calling, “Come.”
  • If you are having a lot of trouble getting your dog to come when called, Geller suggests feeding him out of your hands instead of a bowl for several days, and only when practicing the come command.  According to Geller, this will make it not a luxury but a necessity for the dog to come when called.
  • Make a game out of practicing the come command.  According to Geller, a game of hide-and-seek can be a fun way to teach your dog to come when called.  Use special treats – what she calls “gold treats” – to reward your dog after he has spotted you and obeyed the come command.  “Dogs love a challenge, especially if they know the end result will be a pleasurable one,” says Geller.
  • Reinforce good behavior with random rewards.  If your dog learns to associate the come command with something that does not give him pleasure, he may prove stubborn just when he most needs to obey.  For instance, if “Come, Frankie” always means that the fun is over and it is time to go inside, Frankie will not want to come when called.  Geller suggests calling the dog off several times during play time, then rewarding him with a treat and, most importantly, an invitation to continue playing.  “You’ll be teaching him the pattern that coming and checking in with you is a good thing.”

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Categories: Dog Behavior

Is Your Puppy Chewing Everything In Sight? How To Cope With Chewing Behaviors

July 24th, 2009 3 comments

Puppies love to chew. Just like children, puppies go through a teething process, and during that time, chewing just feels good.  Even older dogs occasionally chew.  Authors Jack and Wendy Volhard in Dog Training for Dummies suggest that dogs that keep chewing after they’ve passed the teething stage do so out of anxiety, boredom or loneliness.

Any Puppy Will Tell You:  Chewing Just Feels Good

Any Puppy Will Tell You: Chewing Just Feels Good

Dealing With a Teething Puppy’s Need to Chew

If your puppy is exhibiting chewing behavior, this is perfectly normal.  Dogs are born without teeth.  Their baby teeth come in between three and eight weeks of age.  Then at approximately four months, puppies shed the baby teeth and the adult teeth come in.

Chewing eases some of the discomfort your puppy feels during this process.  Here are some tips for dealing with your puppy’s chewing behaviors during teething:

  • Give Puppy Lots of Toys. Provide your puppy with plenty of chew toys, both hard and soft.  A hard rubber toy such as a Kong with some peanut butter stuffed inside will keep your puppy amused for a long time.  Additionally, there are toys that can be frozen or refrigerated.  Chewing on something cold can relieve your puppy’s gum discomfort.  Just be sure to promptly throw away any toy that cannot handle your puppy’s chewing.  Otherwise, you puppy may ingest or choke on the pieces.
  • Don’t Be a Chew Toy. If your puppy tries to use you as a chew toy, correct this behavior by holding your flat palm a few inches in front of his mouth and then ignore him.  He won’t be able to chew your flat palm.  He will learn this hand signal as a sign for “stop doing that.”  And he will associate chewing on you with not getting any attention.
  • Don’t Yell At or Hit Your Puppy. Avoid yelling at your puppy, and never, ever hit your puppy.  Yelling is completely ineffective and will only give you a headache.  It is especially important not to yell at your puppy after the fact.  Your puppy won’t be able to associate your yelling at him with the shoe he destroyed two hours earlier.  At worst, he will associate your yelling with your homecoming and will begin to dread having you return home.  And hitting your puppy can injure him and can lead to aggressive tendencies down the road.
  • Don’t Chase Your Puppy. Don’t chase your puppy to try and take away something he is chewing.  To your puppy, this is a game and it reinforces the behavior.  If your puppy has grabbed a dirty sock out of the laundry basket, get one of his toys and make an exchange.
  • Remove Temptations. Keep loose items picked up and doors closed.  If your puppy doesn’t have access to tempting contraband, he cannot chew it.  You might consider making use of a crate or a baby gate until your puppy gets through the teething stage.

Dog with TeethYour puppy is going through a phase that, in some dogs, might last for six months to a year.  His sharp teeth can be destructive if you’re not diligent.  The good news is that his need to chew will lessen as he gains maturity.  In the meantime, provide your puppy with plenty of chew toys in a variety of chewy textures.  This will keep him busy and alleviate his discomfort and anxiety.

With patience and planning, you can cope with puppy’s chewing behaviors and you, your puppy and your possessions will all be better off.

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Categories: Dog Behavior