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Category Archives: Dogs

How to Teach Your Dog to Go Through a Door Flap with Clicker Training

When we got our Miniature Schnauzer, we had already had a catflap in the back door for years. We soon realised that our little dog would easily also fit through the cat flap, and this would allow her to go in and out of the yard whenever she liked. We decided to pin it open to see if she would even use it at all, and it turned out to be a hit. It worked perfectly and in the summer it was nice to have a light steady breeze from the door. But we all know, summer must come to an end one day. And it did.

Winter came and with that freezing air blowing through the cat flap every day, all day. Unpinning the door meant having a sad little furry dog staring at it in disbelief “This used to be open all the time! Why is it locked now? And since when can the cat walk through walls?” The surprised look on our dogs face every time the cat appeared and vanished in the door was adorable and yet a little upsetting. How she wished to have the cats ability of passing through closed doors. And I wished that too. The comfort of going in and out whenever she wanted proved to make for a demanding dog, that needed help to open and close the door. Countless times a day.

Something had to change. As she didn’t understand how the door worked, we would have to show her and help her a little. I had used clicker training with other dogs before, and it was not only fun for me but also for the dog. Somehow we had never started training our newcomer with it, but now I dug out the clicker from the ominous corner drawer in the kitchen that hardly ever gets opened these days and made a plan.

Teaching my dog to use the cat flap!

My dog got the concept in a matter of hours and used the door by herself on the next day. Now she is young and very intelligent, but older dogs should also be able to learn this trick in no more than a few days.

Dog Clicker Training for flap doors – let’s get started.

Four essential things you need:

  • A clicker
  • Small dog treats or favorite toys
  • A cat flap
  • A dog (any dog will do…)

Clicker Training

If you’ve never heard about clicker training, then I will try to quickly introduce you to it. In short, clicker training conditions the dog through positive reinforcement to repeat certain behaviors. There is no such thing as active punishment in this training – “punishment” is shown in a passive manner by ignoring the dog. Dogs thrive on attention, they mostly don’t mind if it’s positive or negative attention – they often might not even be able to tell them apart. As long as their favorite humans interacts with them, that’s great news. Nothing is worse for a dog than being ignored. This is very useful when it comes to training.

A click tells the dog “That’s exactly what I wanted you to do!”, then a treat follows. Click means treat – that is very important. Never click without it being followed by a treat – even if you click by accident. Click and treat go hand in hand. For most dogs, food treats work great, it is possible though to offer toys as a reward instead. Depending on the dog or the situation – I don’t take the clicker on walks for example, but I use the same method of “Do well and something good happens” to train my dog to, for example, stay sitting while I walk away. If she waits for my release command and comes running, we play with her toy. If she runs towards me without the command, we don’t play. That way she realizes that, even though staying put might not be the most fun thing to do right now, but when that’s done, there are better things to come!

Step one

But let’s go back to the cat flap. If your dog already works with clickers, then great, skip this paragraph and read the next. For everyone who has never used a clicker with their dog, you will want to get your dog accustomed to the clicker, what it does, how it works and how he/she can actually “make it click” to get to that tasty treat.

I admit, I am very impatient and extremely lucky with my dog. I have done all this in fast forward mode, but generally it is best to take some time and be patient… Start with teaching your dog what the noise means. With your dog in the same room, click the Clicker. Your dog will most likely look up at the noise, but even if he doesn’t, make sure to click and immediately offer him a tasty, small treat.

Click again, give the treat.

Click again, give the treat. Repeat.

Click again – does your dog already look a little excited about the noise? Good, he is starting to realise that a treat follows the click every time he hears it.

This stage shouldn’t take long at all, and it’s soon time for the next step.

Step two

I thought about what skills the dog would need to open the door. To go through the door she would have to push it with her nose. So my next goal was to get her to touch the cat flap with her nose. The direct approach didn’t seem to be very successful, so I got a colorful Post-It note out of the cupboard. Maybe this isn’t necessary if you manage to make your dog touch the door with its nose. However, I wiggled the bright pink piece of paper in front of her nose and the first thing she does is give it a quick sniff. As soon as her nose touches the paper – CLICK! and treat.

Move a few steps away and show the paper, have the dog follow you, trying to touch the paper with its nose.

When the dog touches the paper reliably, you can now introduce a command such as “Touch” every time the dog does the action. Your dog will soon connect the motion of touching the paper with the word.

Keep this up until she touches the paper with her nose every time she sees the paper. Once this works well, phase three can begin – stick the Post-It on the flap door.

Step three

With the Post-It on the flap and the dog knowing the “touch” command, the next step was quite easy.

Ask your dog to touch the paper. Click when they do. Your dog might not push the door yet, so start to encourage him to touch it harder. Stop clicking if the nose only just touches it, instead click only when the dog put enough pressure on the door and the door slightly wiggles.

Does the door wiggle a little every time now? Great, then take away the click again until your dog starts to push the door harder.

This is a gradual process and encourages the dog to think about what you want it to do. When he figures it out himself, he learns a lot faster. Teach him gradually to not just make the door wiggle but to push so hard, that he has to stick his head through – at this point he will usually have realized that he can walk through as the door actually reveals what’s behind, and eventually you will be able to gradually change the slight door touching to actually walking through. Like magic!

Done!

My dog was finally able to make her way in and out of the house whenever she wanted – and we could finally take off the second layer of socks.

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This entry was posted in Dogs


Want to involve your dog in your wedding? Here are some things to think about…

Wedding season is in full swing, and many couples are choosing to include their treasured four legged friends in their nuptials, giving their dogs a prominent role to play in their big day!

If you are planning your wedding and want to include your pooch in the celebrations there are a few important things that you should consider…

1 – Check your wedding venue is pet friendly

Some wedding venues do not allow animals, so remember to check that they will be allowed into your venue if you plan to include them in your ceremony.

2 – Decide what role will they play

Will they have a role in the ceremony? Perhaps they’ll be pup of honor and walk the bride down the isle? They could be flower dog or even ring bearer (if your dog can be trusted not to run off with the rings!), or perhaps they will just turn up for a few pictures after the ceremony?

3  What will they wear?

Most weddings include a colour theme so your may wish to dress your dog in a collar to match the bridesmaids, or a bow tie to match the groom!

4 – Agree how long they will stay at the wedding

Would you like your pooch to stay for the whole day and evening or perhaps arrange for a dog sitter or friend to take your dog home before the evening celebrations commence? All of the excitement, food, music and noise may be too much.

5 – Consider incorporating your pet into your cake design or wedding favours

Wedding cakes come in all shapes and sizes, so you could ask the person that makes your cake to incorporate your beloved pet into the design.

6 – Pick your flowers carefully

Some flowers are toxic to dogs, so be careful which flowers you choose for your bouquet if your dog is joining you on your special day. Daisies, Tulips, Hyacinth, Daffodil’s  and Lilys are extremely poisonous to dogs.

7 – And finally – don’t forget to include them in some of the photos!

Remember to pack a few treats in your bridal handbag or the grooms pocket to help encourage your dog to pose for a few photos to create memories that you can look back on for years to come!

 

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This entry was posted in Dogs


Bring Your Dog To Work Day: The Aftermath

Did last Friday’s Bring Your Dog To Work Day not quite go to plan? Did your dog show you up in front of your colleagues? Maybe your dog was an angel and ticked everything off your to do list?

Get your dog office-ready in time for next year with Omlet’s Head of Pups’ top tips for dealing with the 9-5…

  

Who let the dogs out?

If Friday was your dog’s first day at the office it would likely have been incredibly overwhelming and therefore, would have influenced their behavior and potentially made them act strangely. Try introducing your dog to the office and colleagues again but in short bursts, slowly building up to one whole day in the office. This will help your dog become familiar with all the faces, sights and smells and they will be better equipped to handle whatever is thrown at them.

Maybe your dog’s day at the office highlighted some gaps in their training or social skills, take the time to focus on these areas.

If you missed our preparation post for Bring Your Dog To Work Day you may not have thought to bring this and that with you on the day. Write a checklist of things you wish had taken with you so you are ready for your dog’s next trip to work.

Was your dog missing a secure space to hide when it all got too much? If your dog has been previously crate trained, taking a portable travel crate to the office with you and placing a blanket over the top will create a quiet dark space for them to rest when the bright lights of the office are too distracting for a nap.

Bring Your Dog To Work Day

Omlet is a proud sponsor of Bring Your Dog to Work Day, an annual event that raises money for charities dedicated to making a difference to the welfare of dogs. Visit their website to read more and make a donation!

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This entry was posted in Dogs


Fruity Frozen Yogurt Treats for Dogs

Try out these delicious homemade frozen treats that dogs will go crazy for! These are super quick and easy to make, and kids will love getting involved with different fruity creations…

You will need…

An ice cube tray – (moulds to make larger ice cubes are available on Amazon)

500g Greek Yogurt

200ml of water

A selection of dog-safe fruits, such as apples, bananas, blueberries, mango, peaches, raspberries, strawberries, and watermelon.

We used an ice cube tray which makes large 2 inch square ice cubes. This quantity made approximately 8 at this size ice cube.

Method

Prepare the fruit and cut up into smaller bite size pieces.

Depending on the size of ice cube tray, fill the molds up to a third high with yogurt, followed by a small splash of water. Pop a few small pieces of fruit into the moulds, before continuing to fill the molds with yogurt, splashes of water up and pieces of fruit up to the top.

Pop in the freezer for at least 4 hours depending on the size of the ice cube moulds.

Allow the treats to thaw for 5-10 minutes before feeding to your dog.

Other Frozen Treats…

If your fruit bowl contents are on their way out and unlikely to be eaten by the humans in the house, you can also freeze cut up pieces of the fruit, like apples and bananas, to give to your four-legged friends directly.

Don’t forget!

Remember to give your dog treats in moderation, alongside a healthy diet. Supervise your dog when eating these frozen treats and remove at any sign of distress. These frozen fruit cubes should be given to your dog as a treat, with other solutions in place to keep your dog cool, such as access to shade in the garden and the coolest room in the house, fresh water, walks at the coolest time of day etc. Consult your vet if your dog is showing signs of distress or potential heatstroke.

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This entry was posted in Dogs