Monday, January 31, 2011

Why Train "Touch" or "Targeting"?

(by Ana Grimh, CPDT-KA)

Does your dog do anything you'd like to change? Barking frequently? Pulling on leash? Jumping up on people? Etc, etc. If you answered with an enthusiastic (or exasperated) "YES," then there is a cue you must teach your dog!

The cue is "touch," and in our classes, we demonstrate this as your dog pressing his/her nose to our palm. To start teaching your dog touch, simply hold your hand out. Most dogs are interested in sniffing it, so use your marker word as soon as the nose touches your hand. As your dog gets good at this, start to move your hand around more (high, low, left, right, etc). You can also add a verbal cue (e.g. “touch”) by saying it right before you present your hand.

This simple, enjoyable cue has many applications. Some examples are:

1. Walking Nice – Much like using a treat or toy to lure your dog, where his head goes, his body will follow. Once your dog knows touch, you can hold your hand at your side to get your dog in heel position.

2. Jumping Up – For dogs who are persistent jumpers, you can teach them a jumping touch. This gives them a “legal” outlet for their jumping energy, put keeps their paws off of you.

3. Recall/Come – Some dogs get so enthusiastic about touch that it can serve as a recall. It can also be helpful for dogs who come, but stay out of reach of putting the leash on. Call your dog, and then ask him to touch so he gets closer to you.

4. Timid Dogs – Touch is also a good confidence builder. For dogs who are a little nervous with hands reaching for them, it builds a good association with hands.

5. Excitable Dogs – Touch is an “inexpensive” behavior. A dog can do it quickly, without expending a lot of energy. Dogs can learn to focus better by being asked for behaviors they can do easily, and touch is a great one for these frenetic dogs.

This is not an exhaustive list of uses for touch! There are so many reasons why this is an excellent skill to have in your training "toolbox" that I cannot list them all here. If you are interested in learning more about this cue, check out an upcoming training class with us - we teach and expand on this cue in our Beginner Doggy School!

Happy training!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Why Train Your Dog?

(by Ana Grimh, CDPT-KA; adapted from an APDT article, 'The Benefits of Training')

As we reach the end of the APDT's National Train Your Dog Month, Teacher's Pet would like to reflect on some of the fabulous reasons why one should attend training classes.

1. Puppy classes provide the opportunity for getting your new family member started off right (especially with regard to socialization).

2. Training classes provide owners with the tools to deal with common, normal doggy behaviors, such as housetraining, polite greetings, etc.

3. No matter what age you start training your dog, foundation training provides the basis for any
activity, behavior or job you want your dog to do.

4. Training provides dogs with basic manners that humans love - ie., politely greeting other humans, coming when called, walking nicely on leash.

5. A trained dog can participate in all family activities. Good manners are generally welcomed by other people!

6. Training enables you to choose from among a broad range of activities and dog sports to participate in and enjoy with your dog, such as agility, canine freestyle, therapy work, etc.

7. Training has been shown to be the single most important thing that keeps a dog
in his or her “forever” home.

8. Training builds your mutual bond, enhances the partnership and enriches the
relationship you share with your dog.

We are sure you can think of many more reasons why training class is important for you and your dog! Check out our website: for class schedules!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Winter Walking Tips!

(by Brianne Statz, CPDT-KA)

Walking the dog is a great way for you both to get some exercise. However, walking in Wisconsin in winter is not exactly the easiest or most enjoyable excursion. But there are some helpful products that can make those winter walks better.

1. Yaktrax ( – While icy sidewalks don’t seem to faze the dogs, they can be very dangerous for people. Yaktrax attach to the bottom of your shoes or boots and help you stay vertical on your walks. I find them very effective, especially when the only free time I have is in the evening when it’s too dark to see all the icy patches.

2. Waist Leash (many brands available, such as Blue Dog Waist Leash ( – While the waist leash has many advantages in walking and training, it’s wonderful in winter because you can keep your hands in your pockets! And if you do happen to slip and fall on some ice, you don’t risk dropping the leash and having your dog running free.

3. Paw Plunger ( – Winter can be very messy, when snow and ice start to melt and turn into slush and mud. With this device, you can come home, slip your dogs paws into it, and clean them easily. It does work quite well for cleaning the paws, although sometimes I wish there was a “full body” version.

Keep yourself and your dogs safe and warm, but you can still get out there and walk!