Tag Archives: Dog training

Timing, timing, timing!

Everything is about timing in the dog training world and how we can help our dogs learn to live compatibly with their humans. 

Forgive the awful video quality and the cooing voice in the background (it’s me!).  The first thing I did when we let the puppies loose is lay down on my back like Gulliver and let the Puppyputians jump all over me!  My friend Suzy Houpt and fellow dog fosterer for Mostly Mutts Animal Rescue in Acworth, GA actually came up with the Gulliver’s Travels reference!

Did you know that from about age six weeks to about 12 weeks is what animal behavior scientists call the Optimal Socialization Period for a dog?  This means that you need to get those puppies exposed to as many dogs, humans, other species, etc. as possible.  I’m not saying take your baby puppy to a dog park or PetSmart to walk on the floor — you have no control over anyone bringing a sick dog to those places and you definitely don’t want your pup exposed to that until fully vaccinated — but take your puppy to meet all types of people and dogs you know are healthy and social.

What about those dreaded “accidents” in the house as you train your puppy that going potty outside is way better?  Well, if you come across a puddle and you didn’t see it happen, if you reprimand the pup he will just think you are a crazy person because they won’t put the two together.  Too much time has passed.

Now if you catch the puppy in midstream, that’s perfect timing!  Don’t wait for him to finish — yell “Hey” or clap loud and pick him up and take him outside to finish (or on the wee wee pad if you are training that way).  When the pup potties outside, I have a “Potty Party” and give lots of excited praise.  Some people give actual treats but the act of relieving oneself and some good praise should be sufficient.  You know that feeling when you really have to go…you can almost hear the “Ahhhhhh!”

The timing of giving the dog a treat when teaching basic obedience behaviors is also very relative.  You really want to time the giving of the treat with the behavior you are rewarding.  Sometimes we humans are just not fast enough so teaching these commands using a marker like a clicker or even the word, “Yes!” gives you time to get the treat ready to give.  A treat pouch is helpful but you want to make sure the dog is paying attention to the hand signal, your verbal cue and you — not the treats!  If you are doing a down/stay, you want to reward the dog for the down and the stay but if he breaks it, well then no reward!IMG_0492

When I was first learning how to teach clicker training, our instructor had us get a pile of dried beans and a paper cup.  We would click and pick a bean out of our treat bag and place it in the paper cup.  Mark and then treat.  Mark and then treat. Mark and then treat.  I think I dream about marking and treating!

To practice my timing for marking a behavior, I used my table mirror.  First I would crinkle my nose and mark it with a “Yes!” just to get the rhythm and timing down.  I can imagine anyone who walked into my room at the time would be calling for the crazy wagon! But I needed (and still need to!) practice the timing.  But it’s all about timing, timing, timing!

I’m a Puppy and a Border Collie

Guess which puppy I am?

Guess which puppy I am?
Photo by datpet – http://www.datpet.com

I’m a puppy…new and starting my training.  I know instinctively some things and I’ve learned a lot over my 40 plus years of animal advocacy and pet ownership, but I am still wet behind my ears.  I am learning new training methods — embracing only positive training methods.  I find the study material incredibly interesting and a lot of things I thought I knew just don’t work or are not effective.

Association of Professional Dog Trainers - Dog Training Professionals

On Tuesday I am making my first journey to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) conference in Spokane, Washington.  I’ve met a few other members through Facebook and an online class I took but I effectively don’t know anyone. I signed up to be a “Border Collie” at the conference.  These are people who help out in seminars, give out information and directions and basically help out the staff in anyway possible.  I’m looking forward to meeting new people but I’m on the shy side.

If you went to see some border collie puppies, I would be the one sitting in the corner staring at you but not coming to your calls. When I do things like this that are out of my comfort zone I usually put on this alter ego.  it is exhausting!  Some people build their energy off of other people…for me it is the opposite so this will be a big challenge for me.

But I love having a job to do (I guess I’m a good Border Collie!) so I’m happy to help and also have time to absorb a lot of information.  One of the sessions that I am helping with is about building a Prison Dog Training program and I’m so looking forward to participating in this.  I think it is an awesome program and benefits man and beast!

There are just so many things that I will learn so that I can teach my clients and work with my Mostly Mutts dogs so they can find great homes!  If we have the most adoptable pets we’ll be able to save so many more of them.  That’s what I want my life’s work to be and I know I will get there but right now I’m content to be the puppy in the corner trying to take everything in.

Yellow Means Caution or a Sensitive Dog

yellowHave you heard of the Yellow Dog or Yellow Ribbon Campaign?  Originally created in Sweden, the official name is Gulahund™ Yellowdog.  It’s an easy way for you to identify your dog as one that needs a little extra space when around other people and dogs.  This doesn’t mean that they are aggressive dogs or mean dogs but it might mean that your dog has a medical issue and can’t be around other animals or that they are shy around strange people (or people who are strange…if that’s the case then I’m doomed!) or any number of reasons why a dog might be sensative.

Eva Oliversson and is the originator and founder of the Swedish International Gulahund™ program, which was launched in June 27 2012. She is also a certified International Dog trainer in Dog behavior and problem solving – also called a Dog behaviorist.

“If you can create the feeling of safe distance for a sensitive dog, that dog will get the ability to learn how to cope in different surroundings much faster,” says Oliversson. “If it’s able to succeed with your help giving extra space and feels good and secure at least 8 times of 10, the training will progress.”

yellowdog

The purpose of the program, by using a yellow ribbon or bandana on the leash or on the dog

  • Give dog owners the possibility to take extra care of their dogs that are sensitive in any way.
  • Prevent unnecessary misunderstandings.
  • Give both dogs and their owners more space or time to move away from people and animals.
  • Create the possibility to slowly train a dog and by that make better training progress.
  • Make life easier for those dogs that for a shorter or a longer period in their lives, need more space from people and animals. Some dogs maybe for the rest of their lives, depending on the issue.
  • There are LOTS of reasons why some dogs need some more space! They may be ill, hurt or may be just old. They may have a new family or bad life experiences and need a greater distance to slowly train to cope with their new surroundings. A female dog may be in season. Another dog may be having “everyday training”.

How can you support?

Spread the word!  Click on the website for Gulahund and print out some of the Yellowdog flyers to distribute to your neighbors or at the dog park

Educate your children about the yellow ribbon and what that means.  In general I wish we educated children about greeting dogs.  I’ve had a few sensitive dogs in my past and just because they are cute does not mean that they are open to strangers (adult or child) petting them.