Friday, November 13, 2009

Doggy Hints & Tips 101

Happy Friday! While I would never claim to be an expert in the field of training dogs, and my dogs are far from perfect; but I do have quite a bit of experience, that is for sure. So, I thought I'd share a few hints and tips about living peacefully with man's best friend.

First and foremost, I believe in the use of crates. Not only does it cut your house training time in half with a puppy, but it soon becomes the dogs safe haven. Our dogs learned very quickly that when we say "Go to bed, girls" it means a treat is soon to follow. It is so funny to see all of the dogs scramble for their perspective crates when we tell them to go to bed. They patiently wait to be delivered their treats, in the order of hierarchy, with their cute little noses sticking out the door of their "bed". This consistency also makes it easier for neighbors when they have to take care of our place; we simply tell them our command, and it works out great.

Back to my comment on hierarchy. This is one rule that really needs to be followed if you own multiple dogs. I know it is our instinct to root for the underdog (yes, pun intended), but make sure to always feed or give treats to the top dog, and then work your way down the chain of command. This helps reinforce that you are dominant and that you understand their canine language. It also keeps the underdog a little safer.

My favorite training tool is the dogs' favorite tool as well, treats, any kind of treats will do. Choose something very small when you first start working to train or re-train your dog, this way you'll not be overfeeding you friend while working with him/her. Say the command, then the dogs name, and repeat the command. This is important because then the dog knows who you are talking to. This point came up when we were training Rose and Lily at the same time, and they would both do the same thing at the same time; which is not good when you want one to come and one to stay. So, again, make sure to use the dogs name with each command.

It is very important to reward your dog immediately upon his/her accomplishing whatever it is that you are asking of them. For example, if you are using the command sit, hold the treat directly above and a little behind the nose and tell them "Sit, Rover, sit", as soon as his butt touches the floor, give him the treat. It is best to reinforce the command "Good, Rover, sit" as you are giving the treat, it helps remind Rover of the initial command and why he is being given a treat.

Consistency is key when training any animal. Make sure that the entire family always uses the same command, and also make sure the kids are involved in the training process. Again, this reminds the dog that all human members of the family are dominant over him/her. Remind kids that it is never safe to approach a dog that is eating, but on the other hand, make sure that your dog is not food aggressive. If the dog is at all uncomfortable with you approaching it while at its bowl, he/she needs a little work. Start by petting the dog while it eats, and move up to being able to touch the bowl, and then eventually you need to be able to pull the bowl out from under its nose.

Hierarchy is the mainstay of every animal kingdom, and if we learn this and respect it, we will all coexist a little more peacefully with our beloved furry friends. We would not let our children be raised without any manners, and the same should go for our pets.

I think I hear someone coming.... Gigi is ready to "door dash" (this is the term to describe a dog that rips out the door and runs barking to meet his/her guests, my pet peeve) as we speak... Did I mention I'm not an expert? Ha!

Make a miracle today!

1 comment:

Daisy said...

I'm still smiling at the irony that your rabbit looks just like mine! Our Buttercup is a big bunny, and we think she looks like a cow. She's a good Wisconsin rabbit that way.