I enjoy solving puzzles and earning rewards, so combining the two where I earn a reward for solving a puzzle is a big motivator for me. From a dog’s perspective, learning to sit on cue is the same as me solving a puzzle and getting a reward.
At times our praise while training, our “Good Boys,” lack enthusiasm and sincerity and come out sounding more like repetitive burping than genuine praise for a task completed well. The training clicker takes these same repetitive and monotonous qualities and uses them to full advantage.The sound of the click means a treat is on its way and Fluffy learns this association very quickly. If you’re tired and grumpy, the clicker isn’t. The click always sounds the same and always signifies a treat. The worse that can happen is that your timing might be off and you might teach Fluffy to squat instead of sit by clicking too soon.
Regularly I see dogs’ faces light up at the sound of the training clicker and it’s not just because of the treats it signifies, but because it also means spending quality one on one time, not simply training but playing to what amounts to a game. It’s puzzle solving time, rewarded with treats.
A leash aggressive dog can be rehabilitated so that walks are manageable and enjoyable. In my previous post, How Dogs Learn to be Leash Aggressive, I described the dynamics between Dean and his dog, Rover, as Rover learns to be leash aggressive. To rehabilitate Rover, the associations he has with the sight of other dogs needs to change. Right now other dogs mean pain because Rover starts barking at the other dogs to get them to stay away so that Dean won’t jerk him around on his pinch collar. But it’s Catch-22 for Rover because that barking is what gets Dean started with the jerking. Continue reading Leash Aggression – Part Two – Rehabilitating the Leash Aggressive Dog
Teaching Rover to open the fridge is like giving him the key to Pandora’s Box, it can’t be untaught and you don’t want Rover opening the fridge willy-nilly whenever he feels like a snack. The solution is to show Rover how to open the fridge by pulling on a rope attached to the fridge door. This way if there’s no rope, there’s no snacking on last night’s meatloaf or licking clean the ketchup bottle in the door.
We’re going to use fetching the rope to teach Rover to open the cabinet door by tying the rope to the handle. In the process of fetching the rope, he’ll inadvertently open the cabinet and we’ll reward him for that. Continue reading “Hey, Rover, fetch me a beer.” – Part Three
I walk a German Shepherd client named Angel. It used to be that when she saw other dogs while on her walk, she’d have a barking fit bouncing around at the end of the leash. She was so stressed she wasn’t enjoying her walks, nor was anyone who was walking her. My goal was to help change that.
I first tried offering her Redbarn every time we encountered another dog, but just like with a person, her stress left her with no interest in food, plus, she was on the heavy side so food in general wasn’t a high value item. Continue reading Toys as Rewards
Part Two of Teaching Rover to Fetch You a Beer from the Fridge
If you hold something out to a dog, they naturally come closer and sniff it. You’ll use this behavior to teach Rover to close the fridge door.
Take the lid to a tub of cottage cheese and with the flat surface facing Rover, offer it to him.
Have your clicker ready.
When Rover leans in and sniffs it, click and give him his treat.
Do this about 10 times. Do less if you sense Rover losing interest. You want to stop on a high note. Continue reading “Hey, Rover, Fetch me a beer.” – Part Two
Isn’t it time your four-legged friend earned his keep? On Game Day, let that roving carpet called a dog fetch you a cold one from the fridge while you remain comfortably enthroned in your vinyl recliner in full blast-off position. It’s the next best thing to having a built in cooler in the armrest. Continue reading “Hey, Rover, fetch me a beer.” – Part One
My dog Fleegle is learning to heel. I’m using the treat and clicker method off-leash in the backyard. With the treat as a lure held low, he has the stop and goes down, along with the 180 turns and the 360 spins. When he gets excited for a treat, he makes a quiet grunting sound, like he’s clearing his throat before speaking. This method involves a lot of treats, and a lot of grunting.
I’ve started carrying the treats a little higher next to my hip and he’s good with that. Next we’re going to try keeping the treats in the pocket of a t-shirt. From Fleegle’s perspective, it puts the treats up by my face, which is where I want him looking, and saves me from keeping them in my mouth to free up my hands to walk normally. Continue reading Fleegle Learns to Heel
I believe in reincarnation, not because I grew up with the belief or because I have proof that people’s souls live life after life, but because my earliest memory is of dying. Sometime in the 1800s, I was badly injured as a young man while on an expedition in a land far from my home. I remember laying down in the thick grass on a hillside, too weak to continue, and wondering how I was ever going finish this trek when there were thousands of miles left, let alone get back home to family and friends. Then I closed my eyes and died. Continue reading Dog Souls
In 2002, Willie was a year old German shepherd running loose on the streets of Austin, Texas when animal control caught him and put him in the pound. He went unclaimed and unadopted and was scheduled to be euthanized, but on his last day the Austin German Shepherd Rescue picked him up, drove him north thirty miles to the Triple Crown Academy for Dog Trainers and left him there for the students to train.
That was where I met him. He was one of several dogs assigned to me as a student to train. He was an underfed, ragged looking, long haired shepherd that looked more coyote than German. He wasn’t loose on the streets without reason. He liked to have staring contests with other big males that would quickly escalate to outburst of barking and lunging on the leash, and he was also skittish around strangers. Continue reading The Pinch Collar and Dog Aggression