Tuesday, May 29, 2012

May Graduates!

Our May graduates! (The humans aren't the only ones graduating this month!) Congrats you guys!!! You all improved so much!!!!
 Here is Annie giving us a nice sit/stay! For coming to class a few days after being adopted she has made leaps and bounds!
 Snoopy, our little fuzz ball! He was one of the fastest learners through the whole class!
 Snoopy's brother came to see him graduate! (Hi Moe)
 You can see his eyes now!
 Annie watching mom, practicing "Leave It"
 Our lovely Luna! She was so sweet! She really came out of her shell around week 4! She is such a happy little girl!
 Luna on a "down"
Roxy and Luna practicing "Leave it"  I love their focused looks!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

People ask me, "so what made you decide to be a dog trainer?"
Well, I've always been involved with animals and have always wanted to be a trainer (although I had horses in mind when I was younger).  I love to read, and even as a teenager I was reading magazines about horse training and applying them to the horse I had at the time.  I would read about real life horse whispers (never seen the Hollywood movie).  I loved learning about the body language that different animal use to communicate.  As I got older, and out on my own, I got my very own dog.  That taught me a lot.  
My first dog was a Husky.  Not a breed I recommend for a novice.  I got lucky and scraped through for a while.  He was with me through all my stupid mistakes as a young adult and kept me sane, most of the time (if he wasn't the cause).  Are there things I would change if I could go back knowing what I know now?  Many.  So many.  However he ended up being the best dog I have ever had so far.  He was perfect for me and I learned a lot from him.  That I would never change.  
Working at a vet office for 5 years showed me a lot about the breeds, both good and bad, and the importance of good responsible breeding (and what that means).  I also learned more of what a good responsible dog owner does and does not do.  Shots are not something to fool around with.  Get your dog vaccinated, spayed or neutered, and get some training (either on your own in with a teacher/class).  That is some of the best advice I can give you in passing.  Most of the problems I have seen in dogs in general have come from not doing those few basic things.  Thus coming to the answer to the above question.  After working in pet stores now for 2 plus years and seeing all the rescues and shelters coming to do adoptions is the one of the main reasons I am doing what I do and for the price that I do it.  I can't be there making sure that your dogs gets it's vaccs or gets fixed, but I can help when it comes to having you and your dog communicate better.  Just that alone I have seen go a long way to keeping dogs out of shelters and everyone happier (which is another reason, I like making everyone happy).  
As I mentioned above, I love to read.  I have read a dozen books or more in the past 2 years on dog behavior and dog training from Animal behavior therapists.  Most of which after I read it just seemed to be common sense, but over looked common sense. 
I also have a good rapport with animals.  I would like to say I am not trying to brag, but that would only be half true.  I like them and give them the respect and leadership they are looking for.  In return they do the same for me (after they figure out that is what I want if they are new to that game) ;o)  
Pics from out last "Doggy Play Day" (free dog socializing)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The "Touch" Cue

Teaching the cue "Touch" can come in very handy in many situations that you may not even realize.  I find that it helps when teaching "Heel" and when you need your dog to walk onto or over to something. Potty training is also a place where the "Touch" cue can come in handy. It also happens to be one of the easiest cues to teach.

To start put your clicker in the hand that you will not be using.  (Now I start by teaching them to "Touch" a stick and then move to cue to my hand.  I find it easier to start that way because a stick is something hard to resist investigating) Hold the stick (one with a blunt end) out in front of  your dog's nose, when he bumps it (from sniffing or trying to chew) click, and treat.  Now your dog will try to figure out what is has to do to get that treat again.  Give him time, if you need to move the stick around a bit to keep his interest feel free.  Move the stick away and put it back out saying "Touch" whenever he bumps it (no teeth) with his nose click and treat him.  After a dozen time or less he should have it down.  

Give him a break after the treats and play a game with him for a few minutes.  Then hold up your hand (like a stop sign) and say "Touch"  he might look for the stick, but he should try giving your hand a bump, when he does, click and treat with lots of praise!  Repeat and then alternate with the stick and your hand.

To use it when on a walk simply put your hand (or if you have a small dog, use the stick) down at your side and tell your dog "Touch".  Remember to click and treat for the first little while and you will build a very positive feeling in your dog when he is at your side (translation: "being next to my owner, not in front, is wonderful!).  It is also nice to keep him focused on you and not whatever cat has happened to walk down that sidewalk as well.

(a "just because puppies are so cute" picture)