TIP OF THE DAY – WHAT CAN I USE FOR FOOD REWARD? – Poughkeepsie Dog Trainer

Why use food?

Dogs are like any other animals on this planet, they have certain needs and desires. When we train dogs we need to know what motivates them. Depending on the situation such as that the dog has insecure issues or more interests in toys, the majority of the time you begin to use food as a tool for training new obedience of behavior. If the dog responds to this reward, it is commonly known as “food drive.” Food drive is defined as the dog’s willingness to do behaviors for food. Some dogs have very strong food drive, to the point that you have fed them a few hours prior and they will still go crazy when they see more food. Then there are dogs who need a little bit of buildup in their food drive.

How do we build up food drive?

The way you to build up food drive is very simple. You cut back on the amount of food that you give your dog daily. This will build up the interest in the food more than before. If you feed your dog 3 cups a day, then you will go down to two and half cups or even 2 cups a day. It is very common for people to over feed their dog and many times it is not their fault. Owners will go by the back of the bag of dog food and comply with the instructions written there. The instructions on the back will state to feed a certain amount and many times that is way too much.

There are no free meals?

One of the best ways to grade the behavior that you want is to have the dog work for food as stated earlier. So keep the mindset that the dog will only get fed when you work them. If the dog does not want to work for food, then they will not eat. Please keep in mind this is not all a cruel method, it is up to the dog.

What are the types of treats that we can use for training?

Poughkeepsie Dog Trainer - Happy Howie's

Poughkeepsie Dog Trainer – Happy Howie’s

No matter what food you use for training please keep in mind that the size is very important. For example, it is better to feed a treat that is very small so that they could eat it and go back to training. If you give them a treat that is too big then it will take a minute or so to eat. This will delay the training and shorten the amount of reps done. In training, reps are a vital component in creating a new behavior or command.

The size of the treat should be no bigger than a dime. This will be small enough that you can hide it in your hand for luring and quick enough that they could eat it fast. Even the treats that you slice up should be that size.

Poughkeepsie Dog Trainer - Zukes

Poughkeepsie Dog Trainer – Zukes

The following are treats that you can use or food that you can use.

  1. Kibble or dry food that you are already feed your dog.
  2. Zukes
  3. Dog cookies that are broken up in smaller pieces
  4. Rolled up treats such as “Happy Howie” cut up into small pieces

Using food will help you in the success of creating better behaviors and obedience, particularly after combining that with reps. Working today will create a better dog tomorrow.

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6 REASONS TO TREADMILL TRAIN YOUR DOG – POUGHKEEPSIE DOG TRAINER

Train your dog to walk on the treadmill.

Poughkeepsie Dog Trainer

Poughkeepsie Dog Trainer

For someone who never heard of such a thing, maybe you the reader is properly saying to yourself “are you kidding?” My answer to you is “no I am not.” In fact, this reminds me of something that happened years ago.

Years before I became a Poughkeepsie dog trainer I had my German Shepherd Blade and was a new dog owner, but I knew my boy needed more exercise. I was plaining on buying a dog treadmill, a treadmill designed for dog use only, which I will explain in more detail later on. A friend of mine said “Really? I have never heard of such a thing.” Even his daughter who was a veterinary technician had never heard of such a thing and she thought that I was crazy. Despite her opinion, at the time I knew that I was on the right track. My friend’s idea was for me to tie a line from my house to the tree and have my dog run back and forth.

Having the line and having your dog run back and forth is not beneficial at all. If anything, it could cause bad mental behaviors. I will address this in a future blog along with other things to avoid.

Training your dog can be very super beneficial for all dogs and I highly recommend it for dogs with behavior issues.

There are two types of treadmills you can use for your dog. A treadmill designed for a dog, whether it runs by the dog’s movement or by an electric motor. Then there is the human treadmill such as the ones at the local gym or purchased at the sports store. Either case, the following are reasons why you should treadmill train your dog.

 

 

     1. Confidence

Depending on the dog there are two points of confidence building. Throughout my years of being a Poughkeepsie dog trainer I have come across both of these. The first point: some dogs will not step up onto the treadmill. The second point is that having dog stay on the treadmill while it moves and have them not panic. These two can be such a benefit for them after they overcome their fear.

      2. Mental Exercise

Once they start to walk on the treadmill the mental aspect is great for them. When a dog walks outside they can focus on different smells and what is going on around them (such as people, cars, etc.) In other words, they are not working their minds at all. But when they are on the treadmill at that point they are working. They have to focus on the work at hand which is staying on the treadmill. I don’t have them go any faster than 2.0 mph on the human treadmill.

Making them work mentally can help their behavior issues that they may have. Even if they don’t have any issues, it will help them be more calm throughout the day.

     3. Physical Exercise

Whether you use a human or dog treadmill, their age and their physical abilities will determine how hard they work. But even a walk at 2.0 mph for 20-30 minutes once a day will be a great physical exercise for your dog. Physical exercise is great for your dog’s health even if they are a small dog like a pug or a big dog like a mastiff.

     4. Control/Leadership

After getting your dog used to training on the treadmill, the highest level to get your dog to is off leash, having your dog go on the treadmill on command and they start walking on it without the leash. When you can achieve this level of training as an owner, you now have this control and leadership. Having better control and leadership of your dog will help behavior issues or bad manners.

     5. Convenience

You might want to exercise your dog but it is winter and too cold to be outside for long; maybe there is a ton of snow or ice or it has been raining all day or you have some injury in which you can’t take your dog for a long walk or maybe you even had a long day of work and you are tired but you want to exercise your dog. The treadmill is the best idea to achieve this goal for your dog.

     6. Fun

Once you are done training for a number of sessions and your dog gets use to it, they will start to enjoy it and actually have fun doing it. It can be an activity you both can look forward to doing.

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4 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD CRATE YOUR DOG – Poughkeepsie Dog Trainer

Crate Train Your Dog?

Being a new dog owner can be very overwhelming. One of the things that happens is the flood of questions going through your head, such as “what do I need?” “what is the best food?” and a very common one is “should I crate my dog?

There are people that feel that it is very cruel and horrible to put a dog in a crate. They feel like they are putting the animal in a prison for no reason. There is real value is in crating your dog, the benefits are there if you think about it.

Poughkeepsie Dog Trainer

Poughkeepsie Dog Trainer

There are four reasons for crate training your dog.

1. House Breaking

The most common reason we crate train our dogs when they are puppies is to use the crate to train them not to eliminate in the home. Crate training is the easiest and best way to teach your puppy to wait until they go out to go to the bathroom. But even though it is a very well known objective of using the crate, people don’t know about it or still don’t want to use it.

What is great about crate training for house breaking, is if you can use this method with an older dog. In fact, no matter the age of the dog, you can house break them using the crate. There are many dogs that are in shelters or rescues in which the dog being adopted has never been house broken. This method is not only best but also keeps your house cleaner from accidents.

2. Separation Anxiety

The public is learning more about dogs every day. Years ago, if you mentioned to the average person that a dog had separation anxiety, they would look at you weird, but now more people are getting educated and understand that dogs do have these issues. The down side is that people are becoming more educated because this behavior has become more common and a bigger issue for families.

One way a dog shows separation anxiety is that the dog starts to follow their owner throughout the house. They are always in sight of their owner, if you go to the bathroom, if you go to the bedroom they are right behind you. Now don’t get me wrong, just because your dog follows you doesn’t mean that they have separation anxiety. For dogs that start showing symptoms of anxiety, using the crate to help gain separation is a great way.

One of the symptoms of separation anxiety is that the dog does not know how to relax. This is a huge problem and this problem can be the beginning of anxiety, which will lend down the path of anxiety. In the crate the dog will learn how to relax. If the dog doesn’t learn how to relax on their own there are additional exercises that need to be added to the training routine. With the dog being in a crate, they will learn how to relax a great deal. When my German Shepherd was young, he would follow me and not want to be alone. After training and many times of being in the crate, he doesn’t care either way. This makes him a very balanced dog; he loves me but it doesn’t bother him when I leave.   At the time I wasn’t a Poughkeepsie dog trainer but I knew he needed to be on his own in the house.

3. Control

Control means I say and you do. If you ask your dog to “come” or “stay” these commands are training your dog to listen to you. Whenever you ask your dog to do something, the more different things, the better and stronger the control. So in telling your dog to “go in the crate” you are just increasing your control over your dog.

4. Safety

One element that is over looked when you think of a crate is the safety benefits. When you bring a new puppy or even when you adopt an older dog, this new family member does not know the rules of the house. We have to ensure their safety from chewing things such as the furniture. Dogs die every year from eating furniture that contains poison. You also want to avoid incidents such as having a new puppy chewing on the lamp wire.

Leaving your dog in the crate will ensure that they don’t get into deadly trouble. As a new owner you should always supervise your new family member and if you can’t because at moments such as when you go to work, the crate is the best solution for this.

If you have a dog that suffers from separation anxiety, these dogs will destroy the house. They will even risk their own life as a result of their anxiety. Dogs have jumped out of a second story window so they would not be apart from their owner.

 

In conclusion, we should crate train our dogs. One important aspect we must keep in mind is that the crate is always a good thing. Never use it as a punishment, they must think of it as a fun object. The best way to accomplish this result would be to give a treat reward when they go into the crate – a bone or a kong toy with a treat inside is also great.

 

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5 Reasons Why Your Dog Shows Aggression – Poughkeepsie Dog Trainer

Why Does My Dog Show Aggression?

There are a number of reasons families search for a dog trainer, whether they want their dog to listen more or learn commands such as sit or come. The real and not uncommon purpose is that their dog has become aggressive or they adopted a dog that is aggressive. Many times families say they had their dog for years and out of now where their beloved pet no longer likes people outside of the family circle.

Poughkeepsie Dog Trainer

Poughkeepsie Dog Trainer

There are five possible reasons for that aggression.

Firstly, what is the definition of dog aggression?   Aggression is defined as the threat of harm to another individual involving snarling, growling, snapping, biting, barking, and/or lunging. Understanding the contributing factors in aggression can often help in the treatment of aggression.

1. Illness

There are a number of illnesses that can occur to your dog. Families that have possessed their furry friends for many years ask why their dog out of nowhere is acting differently. Suddenly a dog that has never shown any signs of aggression begins growling, snapping, or biting. It may be caused by a disease or illness. Diseases such as thyroid disease or cancers such as brain tumors and rabies can be the cause. The best course of action is to take your pet to the veterinarian to determine if illness is the cause root to the aggression.

2. Establishing Dominance

Dogs are pack animals and dominance is a key factor in that world. When an owner does not show leadership and establishes themselves as a pack leader, new bad habits can form. It only takes two to create a pack – the dog and the owner. The dog will establish dominance through growling, snapping, or biting when they feel that their dominance is being challenged. This course of action would require you to seek a professional dog trainer.

3. Fear

Another cause that is making your dog growl or snap is fear aggression. In this type of behavior, the dog has two actions: flight or fight. The dog will run away and hide from whatever is causing the fear, but when they have no other choice, they will bite. This will happen when the dog is trapped in a corner or if the dog is in so much in fear it feels like they are being cornerned. Moving too close or being in the way of the dog during the flight mode could cause a fear bite. This course of action would require you to seek a professional dog trainer.

4. Possession Aggression

This next aggression occurs when a dog gets possessive of food, a toy, a bed, your yard, or some other object. The most common signs of this behavior are if a human or another dog gets too close to one of the mentioned objects they will growl or even snap towards whoever is approaching. The behavior can be shown towards a stranger or a family member who does not live in the house. The dog determines possession of the house and warns the person coming in not to. The level of possession aggression can vary on the object. For example, someone can sit next to the dog with a rubber bone in their mouth, but an aggressive sign would follow if it were food. This course of action would require you to seek a professional dog trainer.

5. Frustration

The last type of aggression is frustration and this comes from a dog that is tied up all day to a post or tree. After being in this position and wanting to get something such as a running squirrel or any animal that might be about, the dog will take it out on the owner because they need to release it and the owner is the closest to them. A lot of the times they are also behind a chained fence or even in the house and some breeds need to release their energy, so they will show aggression when they are not allowed to do so. Structured exercises such as daily walks can do wonders for the physical and mental health of the dog.

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6 Tips On How To Get More Focus From Your Dog – Poughkeepsie Dog Trainer

Why Won’t My Dog Focus on Me?

One of the most common things owners ask is: How do I get more focus from my dog? I ask my dog to do something or even call his name and they just walk away.

Well, like anything in life we have to work for it because dogs are not born knowing, just as human babies are not born knowing things. How can we ask the same thing from puppies or even older dogs?

If we need to train a dog how to be house broken or walk on a leash, then we must do the same with focus. The following are the beginning steps in gaining that focus and improving your relationship altogether:

Poughkeepsie Dog Trainer

Poughkeepsie Dog Trainer

6 Ways to Get Focus

  1. Begin by having your dog not run away when you are working them. A simple but not always used practice is put a collar and leash on your dog. Only skip this step if your dog is food driven and you are in a safe environment in which where if the dog walks away there will be no danger to your dog. For example, you should have him on leash if you are in a public area such as a park or a trail. You do not want your dog to get lost or get hit by a car.
  2. Now once you dog is around you on leash or off leash, off leash in a safe environment, stand there and when your dog looks at you reward them with a treat/food reward. If you have charged the clicker or key word then you use that first and then reward with the treat. If you are not familiar with charging the clicker or key word please review my blog on “Charging the Reward.”
  3. The next level is to walk around a little and once again every time your dog looks are you, reward them. The next level above that is to take them to a distracted area such as outside, maybe a public area where things going on. Every time your dog looks at another dog or person and then looks at you reward them.
  4. When you are walking them down the street and they look at you, it is reward time. You are telling them that is what you want. With the food they will be more eager to look at you and you will gain that focus.
  5. It is feeding time and your dog wants that food more than anything. They might be jumping, running around or even barking to get that food. What you do is simple: hold the food up in the air where he cannot get to it. Once he starts to give you eye contact then you lower it, but if he drops that eye contact the food goes back up. If you are able to drop the food down to the ground and he goes for it, take the food up out of his reach once again and start all over. He cannot go and start eating the food until you give him the “ok” command. That command can be anything you want for example “eat”, “get it” or even “ok,” as long as you give him permission to eat the food.
  6. What is the next thing dogs love to do besides eating? That is going outside most of the time because they have to go to the bathroom or they want to play. Either case it is something they want so it an opportunity to work focus from them. You can stand at the door and wait for eye contact and then you open the door for them to go out. If they break the contact just like with the food bowl, you just start from the beginning, in this case you close the door. In the beginning the dog will not understand but with a little work they will be giving you their attention to go out.

 

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