Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Supernanny...dog trainer?

Ok, so I'm an empty nester, Grandparent kinda girl (I was such a young bride...haha!). I've been catching episodes of Supernanny lately. What a great dog trainer this woman could be! If you haven't noticed already, many of the dog training tips work great on kids and visa versa. No, I'm not telling you to crate your child, but time outs, whether "in the naughty chair" or in your crate as done for the same purpose. To give the child/dog a time to calm down and "chill" in essence. And, supernanny always makes the child apologize for their behavior before they can get off their spot (and hug their parent). Come on folks - how many of you have let your pup out of the crate asking them "are you sorry?....good, I love you too!" Along with a pat or kiss.

And I especially love the fact that she tells parents to stop talking to their kids when they're being disciplined. I can't tell you how many times I tell students, "stop talking, just follow through with your body!" For some reason we humans think we have to babble away and whether it's a young child or dog, you have to know that the more they can get your attention, in any way, the more they feel in control. Silent and sure is my motto when taking a puppy to his crate, or downing an adult dog in a stay as a control tool.

So for those of you that have raised kids, or are raising them now, or were a kid (ok, I think I covered it!) take a watch now and then and see just how she manages these children. If you're actively dog training right now there will be a very familiar feeling to the approaches! And here's a trainer's secret...you can always tell how folks raise their kids by the way their dogs behave. A long while back I had a family who came to me with a young female golden retriever. They got a golden because they were told how smart this breed was. Their expectations of this dog was pretty much over the top, and I had to constantly remind them "she's young, she'll get it, she's doing fine for her age". They had two children, a boy and a girl. Both were straight A students and the parents were very sure to let me know that. The parents themselves were well educated. Their expectations for their dog was exactly the same as their children. It's kinda funny though because the dog did challenge them alot and they were at odds as how to handle that! She did, in the end, become exactly what they wanted. And I know they all lived happily together!

So even though we (trainers) are always telling you to treat your dog like a dog, you'll find that some of the approaches we use on children are pretty good stuff for dogs as well! Have fun watching Supernanny!

Take care all!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Housebreaking, a new thought

So many of my calls are about housebreaking, for both pups and adult dogs. Folks are so often at the end of their ropes that they're considering giving up the dog. How sad, and certainly not necessary. When I hear that an owner is having trouble with an adult dog in housebreaking, it almost always is just the tip of the iceberg. There are usually other "issues" going on as well. (i.e., dog isn't listening to basic commands). All of them are derived from a lack of communication. When we train a dog we have to be very clear in what we want, what is right, what isn't working. Dogs are innately very clean animals if given the chance. They don't want to have to eliminate where they sleep, and they want their den clean. If raised up properly as a puppy (meaning they didn't live in filth or confined quarters where they had no choice but to use their space to eliminate) housebreaking, done with the right communication can go smoothly.

But, even the cleanest of puppies can be confused as to what it is you really want. Somewhere along the line we humans decided that dogs must give us a "signal" to go outside. I hear over and over, "he doesn't ever give me a signal, when will he?". Dogs aren't born with signals, we have to teach them. Most of the time it's an accidental train, so I call it. Puppy does a behavior and we react by taking them out. Puppy starts to realize that doing this "behavior' gets him out so he repeats it. Most folks never do this on purpose.

So, let's do it on purpose! I have created what I call a "reverse housebreaking technique". Always you read to teach the dog to go the door, or to ring a bell. Most techniques encourage you to send your dog away from you when he has to go out. Why? If I'm in the living room and my pup goes to the kitchen door, where I can't see him and stands there hoping I'll let him out, or is ringing a bell I don't hear, I'm sure to find a "package" there when I finally come into the area. He did the right thing, he went to do the door, but I wasn't there to see it or hear it.

I want my dogs to find me when they have to go out. So, I do a simple thing. I call them to me, no matter where I am when it's time to take them out. (always AWAY from the door!). Then I acknowledge some sort of behavior they do when they come. For my yorky, he loves to circle, so I encouraged him to circle once before I said 'Yes, let's go outside'! For my border collie it's a stand in front and look at me. Take what your pup does naturally and put it into a signal that you can get quickly. Give this a few months. Before you know it you have a dog that comes to find you, and does his signal for you in anticipation of being let out. No more presents at the door!

And remember, dogs of any age, who are not housebroken, need lots of supervision. You can't get mad at the dog when you find a mess in the house, you can only scold yourself for allowing the pup to sneak off. Leashes, crates and gates are the best way to help out! In my book, you can call your dog "housebroken" if you've gone 2 full months without one accident. Then you're there and on to other great things with your pup!

Enjoy the day!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What's in a Name?

Often, when having trouble training a dog, it comes very clear that somewhere along the line a basic piece of the information we wanted our dog to learn was missed. I see it often in classes when dogs are reluctant to sit, lie down or come. The first, very basic piece of information your dog needs to learn is that his name is to make him "stop, look, and listen". His name is your attention flag, getting him to look at you before you tell him what you want next. As I tell my students, your dog never comes to you butt first! His head has to lead!

If your dog's name has been used for something negative, i.e., you say "Fluffy" (and he looks) and then you proceed to tell him what a bad dog he is, he's going to associate that sound with something bad following it. That means the next time you call "Fluffy" he'll take his time looking at you, perhaps acting like he doesn't hear you, making you say it more than once, sniffing the ground, etc. All these are obvious avoidance behaviors, and that should never happen on your dog's name.

He should love his name, to the point that when you say it he looks at you immediately in anticipation of something good. We play name game all the time with our puppy students as well as our ongoing students. Name game starts with saying the dogs name, and when he looks at your face (into your eyes if he will!) you connect with a "nice" or "good" and then after you complete your connection you feed him. Let him know that looking at you on this sound is wonderful for him. After we start getting good head turns on name, we then start adding commands, i.e., "Fluffy" (he looks)..."sit".

Always remember, your dog has to be connected to you to respond to you. His name should bring him right into your world, and from there, once he's looking, he's yours to talk to!

Name game is a foundation piece that many people don't practice. So, when the dog is in the middle of the yard and you call him without getting him to look first, your chances of the recall working on the first or second try are slim. Just like kids when we tell them to "look at me" when you're talking to them, it's the same for dogs. Get their attention first and your chances are much better they'll follow your command. So many times I tell my folks that the reason their recalls failed at class wasn't because the dog didn't know the word come, but that they couldn't get the dog to even look at them first. It was the name game that failed. Thus, the glitch in information!

So, never use your dog's name for anything negative. If he's in trouble, tell him, just don't use his name. If you have more than one dog and you're afraid the other dog will think it's him, remember, you're also using your eyes, and dogs know that if you're looking at them they're it!

Have fun playing name game with your pup! It's a foundation piece of information that your dog must have in place to go further in life!

Play away!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Deb on Channel 11!

Hey folks, I'll be on Channel 11 on Friday, Nov. 6 at 5:50 a.m. (yep, really early!). Corky (my yorky) and I will be chatting with Kim Inglsey talking about things your dog SHOULDN'T be eating around the holidays, including what is dangerous for your dogs, etc. Hope you can tune in, or put me on "record"! Corky is always entertaining and he's the one that get's fan mail, not me!

Friday, October 9, 2009

How it All Began!

So, ever wonder how dog trainers get started? Well, here's my condensed story.

Like many dog trainers, I didn't plan on being one as a young child (although my five year old granddaughter says she wants to be a dog trainer - gotta love it!). I did the usual, "working for the man", when I "grew up" and my last 16 years of corporate work was with 3M. At 28 I adopted my first basset hound, Kelsey. She is the blame for all this blogging as without her I would have never taken the steps towards the world of dog training. She was eight months old when we went to our first obedience class because she kept running away to go to KMart. This was 25 years ago and I had no clue how to keep her home (like a real fence in the backyard might of worked...daah!). So off to the 3M Club dog training club we went and darn if she wasn't too bad at it and I really liked it. We kept working in the Novice level and I put an AKC obedience title on her. She was the best teacher in the world, thank goodness she ran away! I started to be more and more involved with the dog club, eventually being the president among other positions. During the six years I was with the club I adopted my border collie Jezebelle, who took to me places I could never have gone without her. Because of her we achieved a utlity title with AKC, which allowed me to apply as an obedience judge. I am now a judge for the Novice and Open level of AKC, and can judge all levels of AKC Rally. In 1996 I left 3M and opened my own training school (AllBreed Obedience and Behavioral school for dogs in Woodbury, MN). While still working at 3M I partnered a business from 1990-1996 called Top Dog Training Acadamy in Hudson, Wisconsin. I wrote a book in 1999, "Seeing Eye to Eye with your Dog" and have done numerous t.v. appearances. All because of a naughty basset!

So never underestimate why you have the dog you do. I've had plenty of dogs in my life and each and every one has tuaght me something as well I have taught them. They are also wonderful teachers for our children. I raised two boys with lots of dogs in the house.

So hug that dog(s) of yours and give them a chance to take you down journey's you never would have done if they weren't in your life!

Stay posted - mucho more to come!

Welcome to my world!

This is my first post on AllBreed's new blog. It will be fun updating you and keeping you up to date on the latest dog training techniques, stories from my experience as a dog trainer and obedience judge, and just plain fun dog talk! Hope you come visit often!