Sheryl’s Training Tips - Wait for it!

Most dogs do not understand the concept of being rewarded for not moving, but not moving, i.e staying or waiting can be a lifesaver. The dog that sees an open door as an opportunity to bolt is an accident waiting to happen. We’d like our dogs to practice impulse control and that’s where the wait command comes into play. The "wait" command is a quick, temporary hold (impulse control).

If you would like your dog to learn the policy of not acting on first impulse, such as dodging through the door the moment you move to open it, follow this simple technique.

1. Prepare to go on your walk, put your dog's leash on and stay by the closed door. Please keep the leash loose which will allow your dog to make mistakes.

2. Place your hand on the knob and open the door a couple of inches only. As soon as your dog tries to get out the door close it abruptly (be careful not to close it on your dog). Repeat until the dog gets the message and waits two seconds. No doubt the first few times you practice this exercise, she will look at you with puzzlement. This will take patience on both your parts.

3. Once your dog waits for your release (Okay or let’s go) allow her outside to sniff for a minute or two and go back in to repeat this technique. (Allowing your dog outside is the reward for his waiting patiently.)

4. When your dog has mastered the above, try again opening the door all the way. If he dog moves, close the door or step in front of the dog and then close the door and begin again. With the door wide open, your dog should look to you for permission before exiting.

5. When your dog has mastered the above it is time to change it up a bit. Station yourself by the closed door. Say the word "wait", before placing your hand on the doorknob and then do the exercise as usual. (Adding a verbal cue by saying the word "wait" will now allow you to teach a verbal command for the action that was learned) As the dog learns, you can increase the amount of time the dog must actually wait in order to get out of the house, into the house, out of the car etc. Ultimately, your dog should never go out an open door without your permission.

Another good time to practice wait is at feeding time.

Your dog will soon learn that all good things come to those who wait!

Sheryl’s Training Tip - Come!
Does your dog suffer from selective listening? You know he heard you but the response is barely a twitch of the ear. This is not only annoying, but potentially life threatening to your beloved dog.There are simple techniques to train your dog to be more responsive and enthusiastic to coming when called.

Perhaps your dog is desensitized to word
come. Consider changing it to a new command such as here.

Use a moist, special, irresistible treat that your dog does not usually receive such as chicken, hot dog, or cheese. Use in pea sized pieces; it’s the quality, not quantity that matters. This treat reward training is especially effective when your dog is hungry.

In the beginning, use a long lead or retractable leash to help guide the dog. Place the lead/retractable leash on the dog. Hide treats in a training pouch behind your back. Use the command here. As soon as the dog even looks at you, praise with good or yes (the tone is more important that the actual word) and reward with the special treat.It is important to mark the behavior you like with enthusiastic praise and the irresistible treat so your dog knows his response is correct. Do this several times during the course of a walk. Once the dog has the hang of it, wait until the dog is distracted and repeat the command.

After a few days, of constant responses to your command, your dog will learn that wonderful positive things happen for him/her each time you say the word here. Begin adding distance between you and the dog. When your dog comes to you after using the command, drop a handful of special treats and let the dog get that jackpot each and every time, along with lots of praise. That sure will make coming to you a positive experience.

Itis important that, once they have learned to respond positively, you practice in a variety of places with different distractions; indoors, outdoors, at the park etc. In time, as your dog begins to consistently respond, start to phase out the food reward but continue with the praise. Offer the treats every time in the beginning, then most of the time, then some of the time,until you phase them out completely; but remember to always use verbal praise.

Responding to you should always be a positive experience for your dog. A command that is properly obeyed should always be rewarded!


Training Tip – Correcting Undesirable Behaviors

Any dog behavior that gets rewarded will be repeated….ANY behavior, good or bad! Reward in this case is defined by your dog, not you! If your dog grabbed food off of the counter and reaped the reward of that delicious pot roast, be assured that she has discovered the benefits of counter surfing and will do it again. The same is true of a teething puppy; chewing on the leg of the table sure feels good on his mouth (reward) so when he are looking for teething relief, he will seek out that table leg or another, equally chewable (and perhaps forbidden) item again.

So, how do you correct your dog when she is looking for an illicit reward? Follow these simple steps but be sure to remember, until your dog can be fully trusted, your supervision is imperative! Corrections are most effective when you catch your dog in the act. Timing is everything!
  1. As quickly and calmly as possible, re-direct the dog’s attention and make sure that your redirection is more interesting than what they were doing. You want the dog to forget about his object of desire and stop the unwanted behavior.
  2. Monitor the new activity to be sure your dog does not redirect her attention back to the unwanted behavior.
  3. Prevent any opportunityto re-engage in the activity that is unacceptable. This may mean confinement, supervision or removing the dog’s object of desire when practical.
  4. Add a specific sound such as a sharp "Eh Eh" when unwanted behavior occurs so that the dog understands you are not pleased.
  5. Add the word good or yes, along with a tasty treat, when you see the dog doing things you like such as laying his bed, chewing his toy, calmly waiting at the door, etc. That way, they learn the good behavior as well. Remember, what gets rewarded, gets repeated!
  6. Ask yourself if the dog is getting enough mental stimulation and exercise. If not, that may be the cause of the unwanted behavior. Always provide plenty of exercise, stimulation and playtime for your beloved pooch as a bored dog is more likely to engage in unwanted or destructive behavior.
…a tired dog is a happy dog!
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