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Archive for the category “Training Tips”

Jump Up, Jump Up, and Get Down! Please!

You love it when your dog greets you by throwing her front paws in the air and giving you a hug, and you laugh when your small dog jumps up and tries to kiss your face. The problem is, your friends and guests do not think it’s all that cute.

What do you do? One of my client’s emailed and asked for help. He and I used to laugh about his two dogs and the hugs they give. Both dogs are in the 80 pound range. He’s okay with it because they’re his dogs, and I’m okay with it for two reasons: 1. They each just give me one, non-annoying, totally sweet hug when I arrive. 2. I’m a dog lover. But not everyone who enters his house likes this, and it’s inevitable that the boys will knock someone down someday just out of excitement. My new task is to get them to stop jumping.

As soon as I arrived for our first session, I realized there was a problem: they weren’t jumping on me. How do you teach a dog, or dogs in this case, not to jump on people if they are not jumping on you? Easy. Teach them to jump first.

I used the words “up” and “off” for training. “Down” seemed like a bad option in case they already used that word with their dad to lay down on their bellies. I decided to work with each dog individually. The plan was 10-15 minutes with one dog, play time with both for 5 min, 10-15 minutes of work with the other dog, and then more play time.

The reason I taught them to jump first was so that they could jump on cue, and then they could also stop jumping on cue. If their dad wants either of them to give him a hug, he can say, “Up!” and get a hug from his pups. If they start to go crazy when a guest comes in the front door, a simple “Off!” will work.

To teach “up”:

1. Take a treat and raise it to your chin while saying “up.”

2. Say it once. If the dog does not jump up to the treat. Put your hand down and wait a minute before repeating. When training any new trick or behavior, never repeat the command. The dog will just think “I only have to do what she says after she says that word 4 times.” He should do it after one cue.

3. Give your dog the treat while saying “good up.”

4. Repeat 5-10 times in a row.

To teach “off”:

1. When your dog is in the “up” position, take a treat and lower your hand towards the floor (making sure he knows there’s a treat in your hand) and say “off.”

2. If he follows your hand, he will naturally put all four paws on the floor. Say, “Good off!” and treat.

3. Repeat.

Now it’s time to combine the two commands. The goal is to praise but not treat your dog until the entire sequence is complete.

1. Raise your hand to your chin, treat in hand, and say “up.”

2. Say “Good, up” and immediately lower your hand to the ground while saying “off.”

3. Praise and treat your dog.

4. Repeat

This method worked really well for both of the sessions I’ve had with these dogs so far.

No matter how big or small your dog is, always remember that your guests may not think it’s cute to have your dog bouncing up and down when they are trying to come in your house. I let my dogs jump on me, but they listen when told not to. Good luck with your jumping beans!


Rainy Day Fun

It seems Houston is either in a drought, and looks like this:

Or the Heavens open up, locking us in our homes or face flood waters.

The last few days have been raining off and on, making it difficult to have a really good walk or run with our dogs. Sometimes, my dogs spend rainy days sleeping, but the moment that they are leashed they behave horribly because of all their pent-up energy. To avoid a bad walk and an angry dog mom, I try to come up with fun ways to exercise them indoors.

Rainy days are great days to work on dog training. No matter how old your dog is, the training never stops. As our dogs age, we tend to stop doing all the training we were so diligent about when they were pups. We get more relaxed and let them get away with more. A day when you’re stuck inside gives you the perfect excuse to work on any behavior issues.

With four dogs, I often separate them. I take one dog into a room and barricade the door with a baby gate. This way, the other three can still see that dog and me. I work on sit, stay, come, down, and maybe teach him a fun new trick. Then I let him out and bring in a different dog. After each dog has had 10 minutes of individual work, I then work with the whole pack.

If you have two or more dogs, it’s a great idea to pick a name for the pack. With my pups, I can say “Buckley, come!” and he’ll race towards me. If I want all four to come, I say, “Puppies, come!” “Puppies” is the pack name. You can pick any name you want. When I just want Daisy and Lily to go outside, they hear “Girls, potty!” Along the same lines, Oliver and Buckley are referred to as “the boys.” This means they have individual names, a pack name (“puppies”), and smaller packs within the larger pack (“girls” and “boys.”)

It’s very important that each individual dog, the pack, and the smaller packs listen to me when asked. Having them trained as a pack and individually has endless benefits on walks, in dog parks, and when guests are visiting.

There are other fun ways to spend rainy days with your dogs. You can play games such as “find it,” which works great with hounds and hunting dogs. Show them a treat or toy, let them smell it, and then hide it. Now ask them to “find it.” My favorite is taking stacks of books and laying a broom across them, creating a jump. We have our own agility fun in the living room, and the dogs love it.  I add books to raise the jump for an extra challenge. They burn energy and love being silly.

What are your rainy day dog activities?

The Right Gear for a Great Walk

If you play soccer, you need cleats and shin guards. If you ride horses, you need a helmet, boots, breeches, and chaps. What about a dog walk? What do you need, and what does your dog need?

Whether you’re walking or running with your dog, it’s exercise for both of you. It helps if you dress like you’re working out, then you will treat it just like a trip to the gym but with the benefit of being outside. I always put on running shoes. It’s better for my knees, feet, and makes me really work at the walk. The rest, is up to you. Start with the shoes though.

Your sweet pup needs to be outfitted to keep him safe and ready to work out, too. In another post, we’ll talk about training your dog to walk well. First you need the right gear. Your dog should always have on a collar with tags. If you want to use a harness as well, then go for it. Oliver and Buckley are harnessed, but Daisy and Lily are not.

Besides a collar with tags, the most important tool you need is leash. I recommend a 4′ nylon or leather leash. Most leashes you’ll find at PetsMart and other major stores are 6′. Those are fine if your dog stays close and rarely pulls. Retractable leashes are not a good idea, as they give your dog the idea that he is in charge of the walk. They can be very dangerous and counteract any work you do to show yourself as the leader.

Your dog needs a walk, just like you need exercise. For a dog, however, the walk is a physical and mental exercise. Sometimes we think letting our dog out in yard is enough. We see him chasing a squirrel and think that’s all he needs. Most of the time, a dog in the yard lays around or digs, and both of those are signs of boredom.

Do your dog, and yourself, a favor. Put on your running shoes, grab your leash, and head out to explore Houston by paw!

My pack taking over Heights Blvd

My pups are attached by couplers, allowing me to use just two leashes instead of four.

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