Starts with 2, ends with 6!

So, on a typical “Dog Day” I have many things happen. Some good, some bad. For instance, this was how today went:

1.) First order of business was to go grab Stormy, the 8month Labradoodle, from Country Mile Kennels in West Bend and bring her to her new foster home in Sheboygan.

2.) Second order of business was to go work with Rogue, a rescue in need of a home, at Happy Tails Grooming & Boarding in Sheboygan.

Simple right? Here is how my day ACTUALLY went:

1.) Start time: 9:00am. Went to go grab Stormy. We normally do some activity with them when we go to work with the rescues. I know! Rolf’s Dog Park in West Bend!
Total time: 3 hours. (This included driving to the kennel, spending time at the dog park and driving time back to Sheboygan.)

2.) My neighbor calls asking me if I could let her pup out. No problem, it’s on the way…this adds time to the day. Benefit? Yes! Another opportunity for Stormy to play with a Dog and tire herself out!
Total time: 45 minutes (Playtime and clean up from two muddy dogs having a great time!)

3.) Stormy is now muddy and needs a bath! I can’t bring her to her new foster home muddy! Off to SudzPaws we go! Benefit? Another new experience for her and to see how she thinks it through.
Total time: 20 minutes.(Includes bathing, drying and a new bandana!)

4.) Stormy goes to her new foster home! This is a process because she needs to acclimate to a new environment, 2 new foster brothers(dogs,) and a new person!  Total time: 45 minutes (Includes bonding time with new foster Mom, bringing in her food, playtime with toys and feeling out the situation.)

5.) By now it is approximately almost 330pm and I am ready for a nap, but I am off to my next adventure. I go to see Rogue, pick her up and take her to go for a walk in a residential area. More training. She does great.
Total time: 1 hr 15 min.(Includes driving, parking, walking, playing in the field and driving back.)

Meanwhile, in between #3 & #4, I get a call from a current client singing my praises because her large German Shepherd has a new little sister…a small, female Pomeranian! Long story short, he needed help with socialization with other dogs and even though this made me freak out a bit, everything went great apparently! Phew!!!

6.) Bring Rogue back to the kennel by 5pm for a possible new adopter to meet her! This was added to the list when the owner of Happy Tails got a call about Rogue earlier on in the day. I wait to meet the potential adopter and see what this has in store for Rogue.
Total Time: 20 minutes.

So…by the time I got home, it was 5:30pm. I started at 9am. I was planning on being done much earlier, but due to adding things to my list of 2 objectives to 6, it was a crazy, busy dog day!

This is a typical Tuesday. Normally there would be a class at night thrown in at 7pm, however, a new one doesn’t start until December so down time!!



Train or Avoid?

When I attended a dog park today, I was surprised to see something. A fellow owner was there with their pup. When walking around the park, the owner and I chatted and our pups played. Then, we made our way toward the back part of the park. He decided to turn around and go the other way. He mentioned that his pup would go into the swamp area so he was going to turn around. I thought, ok…I continued on my way around the park. Then, I met up with him as I came around to the other side. We continued to make our way around the park until it came to the back side again. Then, he turned around again. I then eventually saw him leave.

My question was, why? Why wouldn’t he just teach the pup what to do instead?

In many cases, as a professional trainer, I see this quite a bit. Owners choose to avoid versus train. Either they are scared to try, they feel it is just too hard to work on or find they feel it is impossible to change. This is where I come in.

In the situation above, I honestly would have just given him a couple ideas. When walking through the back part of the dog park, put the pup on leash. Do this consistently. Then, when out of the back part, take the leash off. Once the pup learns what is expected, you can correct them a lot easier. Or, when walking around the back part, bring JACKPOT treats along and keep the pup interested in him as they walk past the swamp. If the pup looked over or wanted to walk toward the swamp, redirect and reinforce paying attention to him.

Really, it is a matter of consistency. Being that strong leader. Showing the pup the rules of the park. It made me think about other things this owner struggled with and comments he made. For instance, his pup was ‘rough with other pups at the park.’ He made the comment “He loves playing with pits, because they don’t back down.” He also said that ‘he would love combing through his pups hair to help him get the snow balls out, but his pup wouldn’t let him.’ These are things that can easily be handled and can help his relationship get better. The pup is only 2 years of age..why not build a stronger bond?

Do you “train” or “avoid?” Some behaviors can be harder to work on than others, however, it is better to try to improve them rather than to ignore them hoping they get better. Or think that the way your pup is is the way it is going to be. Your pup can always be better! Training helps improve your point of view along with your pup!

Owners struggle everyday with being that strong leader. You can see it with their pups. Ultimately, it takes an outside viewpoint to help “tweak” and help “manage” these behaviors that can help create a better relationship. For helpful training hints, refer to my previous post regarding the 7 Important Commands Every Dog Should Taught. That is a great place to start and will help owners achieve great success!

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7 Important Commands Every Dog Should be Taught

When you are training a pup, it is important to teach it a language that you both understand.  By doing so, you will be able to achieve results faster and have more fun! It is also an important leadership step for the owner to establish when building a bond with their pup! In this blog you will see key terms used consistently.  (*)Definitions will be at the end of the blog. We also use lures such as treats and positive reinforcement to train.

Command #1: “Sit!”
Sit is a command that is probably one of the easiest commands that can be taught. Pups do this at a very early age even without being asked. It is easier for a dog to look at you and focus when they are sitting. When teaching this command, you will find that the pup learns rather quickly and you can move to the next command.
Teaching the sit command: Take out a nice, yummy treat.  Ask the dog to pay attention to the treat. Keep the treat JUST over the dogs nose. Then, use the treat to LURE(*) the dog into a sit position by going up and over the dogs head. Nice and slowly…once the dog is in a “sit” position, say the word “YES!” and reward giving them the treat.

Command #2: “Watch Me!”
When working with a pup, it is always simpler to have them preform a command or trick when they are LOOKING at you. When their focus is on you, they are ready to listen. This command needs to be practiced EVERYWHERE! The local pet store, vet office and anywhere else distractions might occur and you need your pup to listen.
Teaching the Watch Me Command: You can pair this command with the command “sit” as they are always in a better position to focus on you. LURE the pup to look up at you by bringing the pups gaze up to yours using the treat. At first they are following the treat, but eventually they will learn that making eye contact with you is a good behavior.

Command #3: “Down!”
Most dogs usually lay down when they are tired, when there isn’t anything else to do or to get low when crawling under something. Teaching them this command can be challenging at first because the down command puts them into a submissive position and they sometimes are uncomfortable with that. However, once they learn to lay down on command, they will do it easily.
Teaching the Down Command: When teaching your pup this command, you must be VERY PATIENT AND GO VERY SLOWLY. Owners go WAY too fast and the pup ends up just watching you attempt to train them. Take out a JACKPOT TREAT(*).  Place this treat DIRECTLY in front of the pups nose. They should be able to nibble on it. Next, SLOWLY take the treat and bring it to toward the ground. Keep the treat IN FRONT OF THEIR NOSE AT ALL TIMES. If they lose focus on the treat, they will sit back up. If they do lose focus, either find a better treat or start over until you succeed. Once they start to lower themselves down to the ground keep the treat in close to their chest, once their entire body is down touching the ground, say “YES!” and reward with the treat! (Hint- if you are still having problems. Sit down, put your legs in the form of a bridge and lure your pup to CRAWL under your legs. Once under reward! Do not collapse the bridge!)

Command #4: “Stay”
Teaching your pup to stay is very important because this will reduce your pup from running off, help them have a better examination at the vet and can encourage them NOT to bolt out of the car when getting out. If your pup is not always on the go and paying more attention on you, your pup is safer and under more control.  This command is done in different stages and levels(*) This is stage one. Stage two and three require more distance and distraction.
Teaching the Stay Command: You pair this command with sit and/or down. Start by placing your dog in a sit position using a treat. Raise your hand palm out and say the word “Stay.” Then, wait 5 seconds. Use your RELEASE WORD(*). As soon as their butt comes off the ground, say “Yes!” and reward! If they release before you ask them to make a CORRECTIVE NOISE(*)(Eh eh!) and place them back in the exact position they started in. (Hint-DO NOT ADD DISTANCE RIGHT AWAY AND CHOOSE A NON-DISTRACTING AREA TO START.)

Command #5: “Come!”
This is the #1 reason that owners complain about their pup. It is the main reason that owners decide to visit a local pet store and purchase an electronic collar in order to help with control of their pup. They feel that the pup is disrespecting their authority and have lost control. My RECOMMENDATION is to help train your pup BEFORE this happens and to start at an early age if you can(8-10 weeks.) A pup can learn at any age to come, but it is up to YOU AS THE OWNER to help the pup understand what is required. Without doing that, realistic expectations are not being set to achieve success.
Training the Come Command: When training your pup to come, you must first have a 20 FOOT LEAD(*), JACKPOT REWARDS OR A JACKPOT TOY AND AN OPEN AREA LIKE A FIELD OR FENCED DOG PARK. Once you have these things you are ready!! This command has many stages and levels, this is level one. Practise calling your pup to you when they go to the end of the 20 ft. lead. Crouch down, show them the jackpot reward and when they come to you, stand up and ask them to sit in front of you. Once they are sitting in front of you, say “Yes!” and reward. Send them back out with the cue “Go play!” and then repeat when they are at the end of the lead! Eventually, you can start dropping the lead, letting it drag and practising with more freedom! (Hint- A REALISTIC EXPECTATION: Up to 4weeks to learn this behavior CONSISTENTLY WITH DISTRACTIONS and between 6months to a 1 year to “PROOF(*)” this behavior.)

Command #6: “Leave it!”
This command is one of the most important commands your pup needs to learn. Everytime your pup wants to steal something off the counter or grab something off of the ground on a walk, you should use it. You can use this command on anything you want them to leave alone. For example; Dogs, children, bikes, cars, noises, toilet paper, food, etc. You usually pair this command up with Drop it! They learn to not only leave it, but if they ignore you and grab it, your next command will be to Drop it!
Teaching the Leave it Command: When you teach this you start with TWO treats. One treat in each hand. One hand is the leave it hand and one hand is the take it hand. When your pup leaves one hand alone, they get the treat in other hand! Start with the pup sitting in front of you. Offer one hand closed with a treat down by their face. If they go to grab it, firmly say “Leave It!”. Then, when they back away, take that hand away and offer them the treat from your other hand. Repeat. The goal is for them to sit down, back up and refuse the treat. Practice this daily with everything and use this command rather than saying the word “No.”

Command #7: “Walking Nicely on Leash/Heel
No one likes a dog that pulls and is all over the place. It hurts your arm, the dog walks in front of you, behind you and isn’t in control.  Teaching your dog to walk nicely not only is a delight to you, but to others around you. Training your dog to respect the leash is the first step, teaching them to heel is the second step.
Teaching the heel command: You start with leash manners. Start them at a sit next to you. Take a couple steps forward, if your pup goes to pull, you stop. Wait for them to return to your side and then start over. Once the pup is watching you more closely, start them at a sit next to you, ask them to “Heel,” take a couple steps forward using a treat in your hand to lure and then stop asking them to sit. Repeat. Start with 4-5 steps, increase to 7-8steps and so on.
(Hint-It is best to use a wall to use as a guide. Follow the wall walking with the pup and stop periodically. It reduces the pups butt from scooting around and encourages them to sit faced directly forward matching you.) This takes practice, lots of practice!

Lure: to use a treat or toy to guide the pup into position.
Jackpot Treat: a treat that holds more value such as hot dog, jerky or string cheese.
Stages and levels: Training a pup at different levels. Not doing everything at once or at the same time.
Release Word: a word that lets the pup know they are done and to free to get out of the position you have put them in.
Corrective Noise: a noise to startle them, get their attention so that you can redirect and move forward with training.
20 ft. Lead: they can come in a nylon material that looks like a very long leash or they can be on a check cord which is a line with light density and ease to drag along with them. You can pick these up at any pet store in the leash aisle!
Proof: means that the pup can perform any given behavior in quiet areas, areas of distraction and not be so distracted as to ignore you or choose not to.

For more information regarding training, go to our website and contact Rebekah Hintzman and please follow us on Facebook! Make it a pawsitively great day!


How to be a Successful Foster Parent Part 2

In the previous blog I talked about key components to set yourself up to BECOME a successful foster parent. Now that you have decided you want to do it, there are some important things to do to do it right.

Hint #1: Do you have a crate?
It is CRUCIAL to create boundaries for the new foster pup coming into your home. If you bring the new foster pup into your home without a game plan, you are asking for a lot of stress and the possibility of a disagreement between pups if the new foster is coming into a home already inhabited by a pup.
**Plus, crate training your new foster is a FANTASTIC adoptable quality!

Hint #2: Do you love exercise?
Exercising your new foster is GREAT! It helps encourage the new foster to get to know you and it’s environment by exploring WITH you. Plus, you can start to learn what the new foster pup knows. Do they know how to sit? Walk on leash? Pay attention to you or stay distracted? How do they work around other dogs?  This is an wonderful opportunity to also help them learn to coexist nicely on a walk and in your home! Win, win!
**If you can teach them commands, potential adopters will LOVE THIS!

Hint # 3: Do you have a structured schedule?
Your routine works in your home. If you have your own pup, they know the routine. This new foster pup, well, knows nothing. It is a fun adventure. So it is important that you set the rules of your home from the beginning. You set things such as feeding time, walking time, playtime, naptime, etc. By structuring these things, you help reduce your stress, provide clear communication on your expectations and help be successful from DAY ONE!
**If you set a structured routine, it is easier for their new adopters to follow which helps the foster pup transiting nicely into its new home!

Hint #4: Furniture or no furniture?
Listen, I know that looking at your new foster pup you want to give her everything. Those weepy, scared eyes. That starved body with dry skin and need of a good meal. That fear you see in their eyes or lack of trust when you raise your hand to pet them. I get it. However, as the leader of your new pack there is no room for “victim mode.” Letting them sleep in your bed, have lap time every time you sit down, giving them treats just because and presenting then with the house free and clear of absolute no boundary is the things you need to stay away from. Providing structure with a nice, adaptable crate, a nice structure including feedings twice a day and a daily walk is a great start to help them feel loved, cared for and in a safe environment.
**Plus, not every adopter wants the dog to sleep with them, lay in their lap or jump up on the furniture. Good manners is a great adoptable quality people look for!

Hint #5: Key Phrases and body language to stay away from.
When communicating with your new foster pup, how you act and what you say is very important to their success to build confidence and learn socialization.
Avoid direct eye contact. When working with them, act as is they have been around forever. It’s no big deal.
Don’t hesitate or stalk them. If you make slow movements and slowly make your way to them it can freak them out. They wonder why you are so scared of them.
Use a leash in the house. If they are scared and want to run, this helps you not to “grab” for them freaking them out more. You can simply “step” on the leash and redirect them. For pups that are not scared and simply unruly, the leash comes in handy to help them understand you are in charge and consequence happens when they choose the wrong action.
**New adopters don’t always know what to do with an insecure dog. By teaching you foster pup confidence, it is once less hurdle for them to have to do!

Hint #6: A + B = C. Listening and paying attention equals reward. Reward can be treats, a walk, playtime or just time with you cuddling. They have to work for reward. “Sit Fido! Good boy! Here is a treat!” It is important to help your new foster pup know that working is part of your home and rewards happen when they make the right choice.
**This is good practice for you as a foster parent and to teach your new adopters about your foster pup! Don’t be the weak link!

RUFF Rescue Rule #1: Feel sorry day one, after that start training!

For more information on training, contact RUFF Academy Real Life Dog Training by going to our website. We are ready to help you train your pup the right way right from the start! For more information on training rescue pups, subscribe to our blog to read upcoming new posts!