Friday, July 23, 2010

Cue Tip


For verbal cues, it’s best to use a single word and to say it only once. It’s called “nagging” when the cue is repeated multiple times and it has the effect of reducing the power and usefulness of the cue to capture Pup’s attention and get a correct response. Pup learns to ignore the cue. This also happens to us when the same information is repeated over and over. We too, soon learn it is without relevance and we block it and attend to something else.
For verbal cues, it’s best to use a single word and to say it only once. It’s called “nagging” when the cue is repeated multiple times and it has the effect of reducing the power and usefulness of the cue to capture Pup’s attention and get a correct response. Pup learns to ignore the cue. This also happens to us when the same information is repeated over and over. We too, soon learn it is without relevance and we block it and attend to something else.
For verbal cues, it’s best to use a single word and to say it only once. It’s called “nagging” when the cue is repeated multiple times and it has the effect of reducing the power and usefulness of the cue to capture Pup’s attention and get a correct response. Pup learns to ignore the cue. This also happens to us when the same information is repeated over and over. We too, soon learn it is without relevance and we block it and attend to something else.
For verbal cues, it’s best to use a single word and to say it only once. It’s called “nagging” when the cue is repeated multiple times and it has the effect of reducing the power and usefulness of the cue to capture Pup’s attention and get a correct response. Pup learns to ignore the cue. This also happens to us when the same information is repeated over and over. We too, soon learn it is without relevance and we block it and attend to something else.
For verbal cues, it’s best to use a single word and to say it only once. It’s called “nagging” when the cue is repeated multiple times and it has the effect of reducing the power and usefulness of the cue to capture Pup’s attention and get a correct response. Pup learns to ignore the cue. This also happens to us when the same information is repeated over and over. We too, soon learn it is without relevance and we block it and attend to something else.
For verbal cues, it’s best to use a single word and to say it only once. It’s called “nagging” when the cue is repeated multiple times and it has the effect of reducing the power and usefulness of the cue to capture Pup’s attention and get a correct response. Pup learns to ignore the cue. This also happens to us when the same information is repeated over and over. We too, soon learn it is without relevance and we block it and attend to something else.

*GRIN*

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Exercise Your Dog Before Leash Walking.......WHAT????


We all want to enjoy a nice leasurely walk with our dog, right? Well thats not always how things play out. You get up in the morning, throw on your walking shoes, grab the collar and leash, and head out for a walk. The only problem is your 4 legged friend is so charged up it ends up being more of a drag around the neighborhood, barking, leaping, sniffing, you get the picture. Then as if you're not frustrated enough, you ask me, the dog trainer, how to make Fido walk 'nicer' on leash. My response is "have you tried exercising your dog before you walk him". It sounds like a crazy idea, isn't the walk exercise?

Some dogs, especially young puppies or high energy dogs benefit from 10-15 minutes of off leash play in the yard before being leashed up and taken on a walk. A short game of fetch or just romping around the yard can help burn off some steam and make walking on leash a much more reasonable request.

I often encourage students to exercise their dogs before coming to a group class or working on leash walking.  This does not mean run your puppy or dog into the ground, it means 10-15 minutes of off leash romping in a safe contained area.    If you don't have a fenced yard then let them play with a food dispensing toy indoors for 10 minutes, the brain power required to work the toy is good exercise too.

So next time you want to take your dog on a relaxing walk, exercise them first :)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Making Your Pets Recovery Time Less Stressful


In just 2 days Faye will be restriction free after her Spay and able to resume her normal puppy life. It's been a REALLY long 10 days for her, no running, jumping, doggie playdates, swimming, etc. To restrict her activity she had to spend extended periods of time in her crate. Faye has always been very comfortable in her crate but I wanted to be sure that this extended crate time didn't change her 'feelings' about being confined.

For starters I made sure that when she has to spend time in her crate she has a frozen cheese kong to keep her company. Lock down is made a little bit easier when you have a yummy treat to keep you busy.

Her exercise is restricted to leash walks only so I've adjusted my schedule to make sure she is getting 3-4 walks per day. A tired puppy is more likely to rest in their crate.

She'a been eating her meals out of food dispending toys to make meal time last longer.

Yesterday we made a quick drop in visit to the Vet office so she could get treats and hugs from the staff instead of shots and surgery:)

The past few days I've been teaching her new skills, paw targeting, hold/give, spin, bow and a few other fun tricks.

Even though Faye has been a wonderful patient, I know she will be thrilled when Friday arrives and she can bust loose.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Think Outisde The Bowl!




I recently had a discussion with a friend about using food in training and/or behavior modification without adding extra pounds to our dogs waistline. Whether we're teaching new obedience skills, redirecting behaviors, training in public or using frozen kongs/bones for recreational chewing, calories can add up quickly. The average dog LOVES food and will rarely turn down the opportunity to eat so it's our job to manage those calories. If your dog is currently in training and you're using food rewards it's immportant to keep track of how much food they're eating each day. I start by measuring out their daily amount of dry kibble and placing it into a zip lock bag each morning. If you're doing alot of training and want to use special treats you can withhold a small portion of their daily food to account for those added calories. Adult dogs and puppies need a balanced diet so do not replace too much of their food with high fat or empty calorie treats. It's easy to overfeed so monitoring daily calories is important. By premeasuring food you'll be able to keep track of eactly how much food your dog is eating each day.

Keep in mind that there is no rule that says your dog has to eat all their food out of their bowl. You can divide it and dispense it a number of ways.

Place it in food dispensing toys
In the morning while you're getting ready for work, place your dogs breakfast into a food dispensing toy such as a Tug-A-Jug, Kibble Nibble or Fayes favorite The Tornado!

Feed them out of your treat bag during training sessions or on walks
You can pour some of their meal into your treatbag and use it for training or feed them breakfast/dinner while you walk them.

Hand Feeding, especially for puppies
Hand feed your dog their kibble a few pieces at a time, especially helpful for puppies to prevent any food bowl/resource guarding issues.

Not only can we use these techniques during training but they can be especially helpful for a dog recovering from illness, injury or surgery. Tomorrow Faye is going to be spayed and she will be restricted from her normal exercise routine for 10-14 days. During her recovery she will be eating meals out of her Tornado or Tug-A-Jug.   The only outdoor exercise she can have is leash walks so she'll be eating many of her meals on the go as we walk. We will also take this time to learn a few new obedience skills or tricks.

So when it comes to feeding your dog, Think Outside The Bowl, the possibilities are endless!!

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Life And Times Of Leo The Therapy Dog




I am in a new phase of life with Leo who recently retired from his 8 year run as a Therapy Dog. For the past year he has suffered with chronic orthopedic issues so I made the decision to retire him and let him enjoy his golden years. It was a difficult decision because we have worked as a team for so many years. As I look back I am in awe of all that we have done, the places we've visited, the people we've met and the friends we've made.

Leo came to our family at 8 weeks of age and immediately won the hearts of everyone he met. At the time my kids were in elementary school where I would pick them up daily so he quickly became a local celebrity as he was always at my side. The first year was filled with socialization outings, training, playdates and family time. I was so excited to have a dog so eager to work and I loved the learning experience of teaching him higher level skills. We went through formal Therapy Dog Testing when he was 2 years old and he passed with flying colors. Within a few weeks he became a R.E.A.D. dog too. At the time I knew very little about Therapy Visits so it was a learning process for us both. What I quickly found out was that there is no shortage of places wanting a Therapy Dog to visit. I also realized how many ways a Therapy Dog could be utilized in patient care or rehabilitation. I thought it would be fun to teach him some higher level skills and hopefully utilize them on visits. And utilize them we did, we found our calling working at numerous hospitals in their OT/PT departments with rehab patients. At our weekly visits the Therapists would include Leo in their patients treatment be it rolling a ball back on command, picking something up, playing balloon volleyball or using Leo for balancing while walking. The opportunities to learn new skills were endless and much of this we were learning as we went along so it was alot of fun for me too. Every visit was a new adventure and Leo and I loved the challenge. Along with our Hospital visits we worked at local libraries and schools as a R.E.A.D team. Leo and I started the R.E.A.D. Programs at the Chelsea District Library and Ann Arbor District Library as well as helping other cities and schools launch their own programs. We made alot of public appearances to talk about Therapy Dogs and helped others develop programs and promoted the benefits of positive based training........always have to get that plug in *GRIN*

To the best of my recollection here are the places we have visited over the years:

Silver Maples Retirement Center
Chelsea Retirement Center
St Joesph Hospital
University of Michigan Hospital
Eisenhower Place Rehabilitation Center
St. Louis Boys Center
Towsley Center
Hartland Center
Ann Arbor Public Library
Chelsea District Library
Dexter Library
Chelsea Community Hospital
Pierece Lake Elementary
South Meadows Elementary
Cornerstone Elementary
Rainbow Rehabilitation Center

So what is retired life like, pretty darn good :) There are no more early morning visits, fewer baths, more licking of faces and various other doggie type behaviors. While I have enjoyed sharing Leo with so many people over the years I can honestly say it's been nice having him all to myself.

Of course there is always something new on the horizon, that would be Faye. She is 6 months old and shows great promise as a future Therapy Dog. She is going to be attending Therapy Dog Prep School Graduation this week, she's been a great student. As one career ends another one begins.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Fayes Firsts



Faye will be turning 6 months old this week, the time is passing so quickly. I can't remember when I have had so much fun raising a puppy. She is calm, confident, playful and loves to train. Since her arrival I've been working through my Puppy Socialization Check List. So many places to go and people to meet, she has done wonderfully every step of the way.

This past week Faye graduated from small puppy restrictions to earning a little more freedom. For starters she is now able to ride in my Van outside of her crate. If I need to leave her in the Van I will still crate her, but for tooling around town with me she is free and loving it. She has also had a few opportunities to be left free on the first floor of our home while I was upstairs. She was more than happy to just hang out with Leo. She still has ner moments of mischief so total freedom is not an option this early in the game, but we are gradually working towards it.

She experienced her first Fireworks this week, loud, obnoxiious boomers and took it all in stride.

The most exciting turn of events has been her wonderful behavior when we have guests in our home. We have ALOT of people come and go through our home so she has had alot of practice. Faye was quite the jumper and nipper in the early weeks but now will keep all four on the floor and mouth closed when greeting guests. I'm sure the sign I had posted on my front door directing visitors to ignore her until she kept four on the floor helped ALOT.

As the weeks and months go by there will be many more firsts for Faye.