Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Article: Somehow I Manage

Somehow I Manage
by Brianne Statz, CPDT-KA

We spend time in our classes working on a variety of different skills with our dogs.  Sit, down, stay, off, come, etc. – the advantage to your dog having a solid set of skills is you can ask your dog for the behavior that you want. Your dog completing the behavior you want means you can avoid the behaviors you don’t want.  For example, when my dog gets excited about going for a walk, he wants to jump all over me and lick my face, making shoe-tying attempts challenging.  Asking for a sit or down stay while I tie my shoes is an easy solution.  Training a variety of behaviors that you can ask your dog for solves a lot of behaviors you don’t like so much.

Sometimes, there are easy fixes to problem behaviors that don’t require training.  In dog trainer speak, this is referred to as “management.”  Management means taking steps to prevent the unwanted behavior from happening.  Usually management relies on tools, like a crate, a baby gate, or a leash/harness.  Here are a few examples of behaviors that can benefit from management:

·         Pulling on leash – Using a front clip harness or head collar can prevent your dog from pulling. This means you can go for a walk without having to spend much time training your dog not to pull.

·         Destructiveness when left alone – Crating your dog when you’re away prevents your dog from being able to chew up your shoes, furniture, or garbage can.  Keep in mind that your dog should be comfortable in the crate. If s/he is not, then this is not the best option for you.  Most dogs don’t need to be crated forever, but you especially don’t want young dogs or dogs new to your house developing bad habits.

·         Jumping up on visitors – Keeping your dog behind a baby gate when guests arrive can manage jumping behavior.  Many dogs settle down after the initial arrival, and then will have a better chance of sitting politely for greetings once that excitement dies down a bit.

Remember, though: Management is not training.  Walking your dog on a head collar doesn’t train your dog to walk without pulling, and having your dog behind a baby gate doesn’t teach your dog not to jump.  However, while you work on training the behavior you do want, like sitting politely for greetings, it is important to set your dog up for success by not letting your dog practice those unwanted behaviors.  So, next time you’re faced with an unwanted behavior, first think about ways to manage the behavior. From there, you can think of what to train your dog to do instead, so you eventually won’t need that management anymore.

Happy Training,
Teacher’s Pet

Product Review: Tugzee

Product Review: TUGZEE
by Brianne Statz, CPDT-KA

This loooooong tug toy (6 feet) is made by A Cheerful Pet.  It’s great for tugging because it’s so long that the dog’s mouth can stay well away from your hands, and the handle makes it easy for you to hold.  It’s also great fun for the dog to chase along the ground and pounce on.  The Tugzee is made of boiled wool, and is quite durable even for heavy duty dogs. 
Playing with an exciting new toy is also a great time to train!  Balancing the chasing and tugging with asking your dog to drop, sit or down is a great way to exercise your dog’s self-control.  If you need help teaching your dog some of these skills visit our drop in classes “Self Control” or “Fun & Games”.  Check out this example of Payton the Aussie playing with his Tugzee. 

Link to Payton Video:
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Monday, July 16, 2012

Product Review: Lickety Stik

by Brianne Statz, CPDT-KA

This is a lickable dog treat.  Flavored liquid (“savory chicken”, “smoky bacon” or “braised liver”) is dispensed from a plastic container with a rolling ball top.  You simply shake up the container and let your dog lick the rolling ball. 

In the “paws up” column, all three of my dogs (and the cat) seemed to like the taste (all preferred the chicken to the bacon).  It is also easy to deliver and keeps your fingers clean.  I tried it out for some heeling practice and it is nice to be able to deliver reinforcement for a longer stretch of time without having to stop and reload for more treats. 

In the “paws down” column, all my dogs periodically try to just eat the whole bottle instead of licking the top.  It also was not very high value for my most easily distracted dog.  If anything else interesting was going on outside he would quickly abandon the Lickety Stik. 

Overall I think the Lickety Stik could be useful for exercises like heeling, where you want to reinforce a longer duration of behavior, or for dogs who have trouble taking treats nicely (i.e. without chomping on your fingers).  However, it may not be the highest value reward for your dog, so if you’re training with high distraction, you may still need to get your hands dirty with the hot dogs!
Happy Training!

Stay Safe at Doggy Events this Summer

by Brianne Statz, CPDT-KA

Thinking of taking your dog to a dog friendly event?  The Madison area has several large doggy events each year, such as Mounds Dog Fest and Dogs on the Square, as well as other smaller events like Halloween parties at Ruffin’ It Resort or The Dog Haus (two of our training class locations).  The events can be a lot of fun for dogs and people alike, but there are a few things you should keep in mind before grabbing the leash and heading out:

·         If your dog is uncomfortable around strange dogs, strange people, children, or general noise and commotion, don’t force him to go.  While working on making your dog more comfortable is a good idea, going to a large event will likely send your dog “over-threshold”, and could make behavior problems worse.  Socialization is best done in small doses your dog can handle comfortably.

·         Leave the flexi-lead behind!  Most of these events specifically ask you not to bring your dog on a flexi.  You will need to be able to control your dog in crowded areas so a shorter leash is better, and flexi-leads can easily get tangled.  You may also want to consider a front clip harness such as the Easy Walk, or a head collar such as the Gentle Leader.  These tools can help you maximize control over an excited dog and prevent undesirable pulling behavior from being inadvertently rewarded. 

·         It’s great to bring treats along to reinforce your dog’s good behavior.  However, be careful when giving your dog a treat with other dogs close by.  Some dogs can get competitive over food, so reinforce your dog discretely.  It’s also a good idea to bring along some water for your dog. 

·         Have fun!  And watch your dog’s body language to make sure your dog is having fun too.  Excessive panting, yawning, a tucked tail and stiff body posture are all indicators that your dog is not enjoying the event.  Find a quiet spot to the side of the action to see if your dog can relax, or head home and try a smaller event next time. 
Pop into a group class if you'd like more help with specific skills! Check out our class schedule at

Happy Training!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Test Your Skills: Challenge #6

Hello, and Happy Easter!

It has been over a month since issuing our last challenge :). This month, we'll take it a bit easy, and challenge you and your dog to Stand-Stays.

1. Ask your dog to "Stand" (simply standing up with all 4 paws on the ground), and then say "Stay." Hold the stay for 15 sec inside.

2. While out on a walk, say "Stay," and then wait 10 sec before continuing to move. Only move forward if your dog completed the whole stay (ie, no movement :) ).

3. While your dog is in a Stand-Stay, place a treat under his/her stomach. Success = not eating the treat!

Good luck with practicing these exercises! Hope to see you in class soon!

Happy Training,
Teacher's Pet

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Test Your Skills: Challenge #5

Happy February, all!

Your next challenge is focused around the game of FETCH. Within the bounds of fun, you will teach your dog to bring something to you and "drop it."

1. Start by finding a toy that your dog REALLY loves. It could be a tennis ball, squeak toy, chewie toy - whatever your dog enjoys.

2. Get your dog excited with the toy (maybe wave it around?), and then throw it a few feet away.

3. Once your dog picks up the toy, call him/her, and put a treat on his/her nose. This will get his/her mouth to open - giving you the toy (and he/she gets the treat!).

4. IMMEDIATELY throw the toy again. This serves as a "reward," too!

Eventually, you can start throwing the toy farther and farther away, as well as introducing new toys to the mix.

Now go test this out with your dog! Enjoy, and have some FUN!

Happy training,
Teacher's Pet

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Test Your Skills: Challenge #4

Happy New Year, all!

We are so excited to start 2012 at Teacher's Pet Training. We have a great year planned, full of great ideas, meeting new people and dogs, and continuing to help you and your dog achieve your potential! So, join us in making training goals for 2012!

Our next challenge of this Test Your Skills series is based on loose leash walking. Set out a couple objects that can be used for walking a figure 8 pattern. Once set up, get your dog into the loose leash walking frame of mind :). You may use treats to lure your dog into position on your right or left side. Start walking, and then warm up with some easy figure 8's.

Once your dog is easily walking the figure 8's, I want you to put a frisbee on your head, and then try to walk figure 8's. If it falls off, you must start again. This will get easier as you and your dog get more fluid at walking nicely on leash.

If you are looking for a bigger challenge after trying out the frisbee, you can have a friend blindfold you. Then, the friend calls out directions on where to go, and you are trying to keep your dog walking on a loose leash.

Good luck, and happy training!
Teacher's Pet