Certified Professional Trainer
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Training and Behavior
With decreasing hours of daylight, winter is surely on its way. While I prefer the warmth and light of summer, I do enjoy cooler weather in many ways. One particular advantage of cooler days is that I can take one or more of my dogs out on visits with me. When things begin warming up in April, I always kid my dogs that they're on "summer break". These days I'm more inclined to tell them it's time to go to work.
My oldest dog is now pushing 10 years of age. He's got a lot more gray than years ago and moves a bit slower, but he still enjoys going out with me and helping at times with other dogs. Brody's been a hard worker for many years, and helped me hundreds of dogs over that time. If I say it's time to go to work, he's still waiting at the door for me so we can head out.
While winter for most is a slower time of year, with less time spent outdoors, it's still a fine time to do training. Why not spend time getting your dog ready for more privileges next Spring, by working on obedience training over the winter? Training does take time, so if you want your dog ready to participate in your activities when things warm up next year, now's a great time to get to work!
With Thanksgiving this month, and other approaching holidays, I think it's a also nice time of year to reflect on everything that makes our lives fun, special, and worthwhile. Every time I see Brody riding in the back of my vehicle with his tail wagging - I give a very thankful smile. Here's to older dogs - and the days you enjoy together !
I've seen a few news stories over the past months on a product called the Hipster Harness. The device is in development, and designed to help dogs with hip dysplasia, I've included the video below, which does a nice job explaining what hip dysplasia is. The video (strangely) doesn't offer many details about the device.
With a large number of dogs experiencing problems with their hips, any therapeutic device that can be purchased and used in the home would be great. Let's hope it proves effective.
I've written more articles on the problems with "positive only dog training" than I can remember. While I try and post a new topic each week on this blog, today I would like to share a fellow trainer's post. Gary Wilkes' "What is Real Clicker Training" article discusses (in great detail) the realities of teaching methods that lack any consequences. If you found this post, and are a reader here on my site, I sincerely hope you can take 15 mins and read this excellent article located at http://clickandtreat.com/wordpress/?p=884
Gary points out the huge divide owners will see between (flawed) scientific theory, and practical application (reality) of training methods. Today, many owners assume that science is rock solid. Behavioral scientists and their advocates suggest they can teach any dog to do any task reliably, using only praise and positive reinforcement. However, if you look closely at their experiments, their track record, and daily performance, their theoretical applications are tremendous failures with dogs. I recently discussed one specific flawed study in my post on why Veterinarians are not dog trainers. I love science, but science often takes ages to sort out truths. And science is only beginning to study dogs. Scientists simply don't get it yet.
To owners seeking trainers, researching methods, or trying to sort through all of the information they will read online, Gary's article should be at the top of your reading list. If you read it, think about it, and understand it, you will be on your way to better understanding how to help your dog be it's best. The simple truth is this - dogs need good information and feedback to learn reliable behaviors and obedience. Feedback providing no consequences is incomplete, as is information that includes no rewards. A balance of both is needed. An effective trainer understands this reality, and understands the failings of (hopeful) scientific theories that ignore this truth. Nature understands while science learns.
Greetings For November 2014;
There is so much online information available regarding dogs and training it can make an owner's head spin. Today I'd like to offer an older article discussing reasons why you can't train a dog online.
November 2014 CALENDAR
Month: Pet Cancer Awarness / Adopt a Senior Pet / Pet Diabetes Month
Weeks: Shelter and Rescue Appreciation Week Nov 3 /
Days: Cook for Your Pet Day Nov 1 /
CHA Pets at Gallery Hop 11-01 / Cols Mingle with Our Mutts 11-02 and 11-16 / CHA Wellness Clinic 11-05 / Dayton Mingle With Our Mutts 11-09 /
Further details can be found on the community page of my website: http://thek9guy.com/community.shtml
IN THE NEWS
Recent news stories of interest to owners....
Lutheran Comfort Dogs at Marysville after Shooting
Officers Bid Farewell to Police K9
Dog Petting Event Receives Death Threats
4K Pilots have Moved Over 65K Dogs - Pilots and Paws
Fake Service Dogs Causing Problems for Disabled
Dog Waves at Passing Bikers
Ill Man and His Dog Reunited at Hospital
FL Memorial Service for Police K9 Killed in Line of Duty
10 Long Lived Breeds
Links to these and other daily stories are available at http://thek9guy.com/ddn
Shorter days, cooler weather, and approaching holidays often mean less time for training. Training provides mental challenges for dogs, and builds strong communication and healthy bonds between pets and their owners. A few minutes of training every day can make every dog happier and better behaved.
When owners have a behavioral problem they often want help TODAY. Busy trainers can't typically accommodate urgent requests for assistance. Being proactive with training, and identifying problem behaviors early, can avoid unexpected and urgent problems.
For whatever reason, I've had a rash of owners calling with new puppies over the past many weeks. As discussed in past articles, a puppy's first 4 months is an important imprint time. This stage of a pup's early life should be filled with favorable exposure to people, places, and things. These introductions need to be thoughtful, and many owners can benefit from a trainer's guidance in this realm. In addition to early exposures, starting rules is a fundamental part of building a healthy relationship with your new pet. Today I thought I'd share a few points I discuss at my puppy consults, and which I believe should be part of any good puppy class or instruction.
1) Socialization is not just blind interaction! If a puppy class is nothing more than play time for your pup and others attending, then consider what you're puppy is learning (or not learning). Good socialization means owners (and a trainer) should be monitoring interactions, and helping young pups learn to behave and be respectful around other dogs.
2) Wear a collar! In the real world it is very hard to train or teach a dog anything if it can't wear a collar. I've seen too many young dogs over the past year that have never worn a collar before 4, 5, or 6 months of age. On a few occasions this created significant aggressive outbursts when the dog was simply being expected to start wearing a collar. Any puppy class that disparages teaching a dog to wear a collar early, is not helping that puppy prepare for future training and life in our human world.
3) Handle your dog! In a similar way, many puppy classes no longer encourage having owners handle their young dogs in ways that help them become accustomed to Vet visits and future training. This isn't about play or cuddling, but rather teaching simple and effective methods that help a young pup understand and accept all handling by humans.
4) No Teeth! All young puppies bite and explore the environment with their mouths. While this is typical, the pup's mother will try to build some biting inhibition into every pup, as will its litter mates before leaving for a human household. Responsible owners need to pick up this task, and get play biting and ground trolling under control sooner rather than later. Any recommendations to simply ignore these behaviors, are not setting a puppy up for health and success.
5) Puppies are not the center of the universe! While they often believe they are (since they have a rather limited view and understanding of our world), good puppy classes will begin guiding a young pup to the understanding that its owners set agendas, and they need to learn to live well in their human household. Owners should be teaching, not accommodating a puppy.
In short, not all puppy education is the same, Seek education that has a life-long understanding geared toward teaching your new pup up to live well in your home, and your world!
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