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The Omlet Blog Category Archives: Training

5 Ways to Encourage Positive Behavior in Your Dog

A dog who has been taught positive behavior will be your best friend – fun, affectionate and reliable. It’s straightforward teaching your dog this canine version of positive thinking, but it won’t happen unless you lead the way.

There are many ways of teaching a dog the rights and wrongs of living in the human world, and that extends to how they interact with other dogs and the world around them. In this article, we reveal the five rules of thumb for all dog owners – whether you’re training an adult dog or a puppy.

Encouraging Positive Behavior in Puppies

Puppies recognize when we’re pleased or displeased. It’s all part of their instincts, and in the wild this instinct helped their wolf ancestors find their place in the pack very quickly. Learning their place in the big wide world is all about positive reinforcement.

1. Puppy Treats. Dogs of all ages love food and will put lots of effort into doing what you want them to do as long a there’s a yummy treat at the end of it! This means treat-based training can be used for everything from toilet training to basic obedience training and that all-important early socialization. The message here is simple and timeless – do this right, and you’ll get a treat!

2. Affection. This is arguably even better than a food treat! Bonding with a puppy involves physical contact in the form of belly-rubs, back stroking and lots of gentle words of affection and encouragement.

3. Fun and games. Tug-of-war, fetch and simply running around the backyard with you are games that puppies love. What’s more, they strengthen the bond and love between you and your pet, and that’s the perfect groundwork for training and encouraging positive behavior.

4. A trip to a favorite place. This is a great treat for dogs, and can be as simple as a trip to the park, or perhaps to a favorite street for an on-leash walk, or maybe a shop that sells some of those yummy treats! If this is being done as a reward for good behavior, make sure your puppy knows it by telling them what a good boy/girl they are as you put the lead on or get into the car!

5. Puppy playdates. Starting these early is a great way to socialize your puppy, and that provides the basis for all the positive behavior training. Young dogs love meeting each other – it’s not going to be a quiet morning out with your furry friend, but it’s one that will give him or her essential social skills.

 

Encouraging Positive Behavior in Adult Dogs

The basics are simple. Positive reinforcement rewards a dog for good behavior and ignores, rather than punishes, undesirable behavior. Punishment will only lead to confusion and fear in your dog, reducing your chances of achieving the full benefits of positive-behavior training.

Here are the five ways to make everything go smoothly, no matter which dog breed you have.

1. Keep it simple. One-word commands are better than complex ones. We’re talking here about sit, come, etc. Save the long-winded exchanges for praise and affection! A training session based on simple commands and treats is a great start for encouraging positive behavior. Which brings us to…

2. Treats. Just like puppies, adult dogs will be well and truly ‘reinforced’ if treats are involved. Some breeds are more food-obsessed than others, but all types of dog will quickly learn that good behavior results – at least in the early days of training – in a yummy treat.

3. Quality time. Dogs are social animals by instinct, and they will thrive in human company. Once you and your pet are the best of friends, the positive behavior training will be much easier. If there’s any nervousness or standoffishness in your dog, they will be less able to take on board the things you’re trying to teach them. So, keep up the contact, and play with them every day.

4. Make it fun. A long session of ‘sit, lie down, stay, come’, etc. will soon become boring for a dog. A short session of command-based training followed by a bit of fun, however, will make your dog look forward to the sessions every time. After five or ten minutes (depending on your dog’s stamina), round off the proceedings with a game or a walk. The dog will soon realize that “If I do this tricky part, I get that fun reward afterwards!” It’s a trick that works just as well with young children – “Finish your homework, and then we’ll go out on a bike ride!”, that kind of thing.

5. Get everyone involved. Once your dog has grasped some of the basics, other members of the family, or friends, can reinforce the good behavior by running through some of the training with your dog. Your pet will then learn that positive behavior is part of their general lives and applies in all situations with all people.

 

This latter point is the ‘quantum leap’ for a dog – the idea that positive behavior extends beyond their immediate owner to the big wide world around them. Getting them to this point takes time, there’s no doubt about that, and some breeds are a lot easier to train than others. However, once the work has paid off, you’ll have a doggy best friend you can be truly proud of!

 

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This entry was posted in Dogs


How To Prevent Dog Theft & What To Do if Your Dog Is Stolen

Dogtor Adem, founder and owner of Dog-Ease, is a dog behaviorist and trainer with over 15 years experience working with dog owners and their canine best friends. In this blog post, Adem provides us with helpful tips on preventing dog theft, and what to do if you experience dog theft yourself.

With dog theft on the rise, it’s only natural that we might feel worried about taking our furry family members out and about at the moment. I think most of us can agree that if anything should happen to them, we would feel devastated. So, I have put together my top tips for keeping your dog safe from theft when both at home and out and about. Following on from this, I’ve also put together some tips on what to do should you find yourself in the awful position of your dog having been stolen. I hope you never have to refer to them, but they might just help you be reunited should you find yourself in this unfortunate position.

 

MY TOP TIPS FOR PREVENTING YOUR DOG THEFT

 

START AT HOME

By this I mean you should review your current security measures at home. Start by ensuring gates and fences are secure and avoid leaving your dog in the backyard unattended. You may also want to ensure your dog cannot be seen by people passing by when you are out of the home. You can do this by making them a base in a room away from any windows that can be easily looked into or even by closing the curtains on these windows when you are out.

 

MAKE SURE YOUR DOG IS MICROCHIPPED

It is not only law to have your dog microchipped, but it is also best practice. If your dog is ever separated from you a simple scan of their chip in their neck area should reunite you pretty quickly. Keep your dog’s microchip details up to date. It’s usually really easy to do this over the phone or online.

 

ADD AN ID TAG TO YOUR DOG’S COLLAR AND CONSIDER A GPS TAG ALSO

By law, your dog should have an identification tag attached to their collar when outside of your home. This makes it really easy for you both to be reunited without needing your dog’s microchip to be scanned. You could also consider attaching a trackable GPS tag to your dog’s collar. There are many on the market to choose from and these can be purchased online, if not from your local pet shop. Some also have fun features to use on a daily basis such as tracking your dog’s activity levels.

 

TEACH YOUR DOG THE RECALL COMMAND

Teach your dog the recall command and make coming back to you a fun game that you can play throughout your walks together. Offer a tasty treat or engagement in a game such as fetch each time they return to you. This makes them more likely to want to return to you, seeing the recall as a fun part of your walk. Head over to the Blog page of my website www.dog-ease.co.uk/blog/ to watch a tutorial on how to begin this training if you haven’t already had a chance to.

 

KEEP YOUR DOG’S ATTENTION

Make it fun for your dog to stay close to you on your walk if you are letting them off leash. For example, you could practice off leash heel work as you walk, offering a tasty treat as a reward for their focus, or play recall games. Taking a special toy such as a ball can also help to keep your dog’s attention and focus with them chasing and retrieving during your walk.

 

KEEP YOUR DOG IN SIGHT

Following on from keeping your dog’s attention, avoid letting your dog go out of your sight on a walk or leaving them unattended outside a shop, school, or even in your car. The less opportunity for them to come into contact with strangers without you also present, the better.

WALK WITH OTHERS

If possible, walk with a family member or socially distanced with a friend. You could also try to walk in public areas where other people are walking and present too. Pick times of the day where other people are likely to be around and walk in daylight if possible. If this is not possible, try to walk in well-lit areas. Safety is often found in numbers and the more people that are around the less likely you may be to be targeted.

 

CONSIDER TAKING ANTI THEFT DEVICES WITH YOU

Consider taking an anti-theft alarm or another similar device on your walk with you, even a whistle is better than nothing to be able to attract attention with. You could also try to keep your mobile phone handy to use if necessary, although it’s best to not allow your cell phone to distract you from what is going on around you as you walk. See the next tip!

 

STAY ALERT

Following on from the tip above, stay alert and be vigilant on your walks. Watch out for any unusual activity or people in the areas you might typically walk. It is best to limit your use of any electronic devices such as your cell phone, even to listen to music. The more aware of your surroundings you are, the more likely you will be to spot anything not quite right.

 

AVOID CLOSE CONTACT WITH STRANGERS

Avoid letting people you don’t know pet your dog or telling people you don’t know any details about you and your dog. It’s nice to be friendly but be vigilant about the information you share.

 

BE LESS PREDICTABLE

If you’re particularly concerned, change up your routine frequently. This makes it harder for anyone ‘watching and waiting’ to predict and plan to ‘bump into you’ on a walk.

 

PREP OTHERS WHO ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR WALKING YOUR DOG

If you use a dog walker, ensure you ask them what steps they are taking to avoid your dog from being stolen. You can also ask that they remain vigilant in securing your property when returning your dog to your home and ask that they look out for and alert you to any unusual activity.

 

USE SOCIAL MEDIA AND LOCAL NEWS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE

Check local social media pages and local news for up-to-date information on what is going on in your area. Often any worrying incidents are reported by residents with details of suspicious people and even sometimes vehicles too look out for.

 

BE MINDFUL OF WHAT YOU SHARE ONLINE

Sharing your location and details of your pet on non-private forums such as on non-private social media pages can alert potential thieves about your destination. Make sure you are mindful of what you share and where you ‘check in’, with or without your dog.

 

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOUR DOG IS STOLEN?

In the awful event that your dog is stolen, here are some tips to help you find and be reunited with them.

 

REPORT THE THEFT IMMEDIATELY

Report the theft immediately to the police and ensure it is recorded as a crime rather than as a lost pet. You should receive a crime reference number for your records.

 

CHECK CCTV

Check all available CCTV footage in the area your dog was stolen from to gain evidence of any people needing to be identified or vehicles that may have been involved. You might also want to check in with neighbors and those in the local area to see if anyone has any footage from their own security systems – from Ring Doorbell footage to Dash Cam footage. Anything is worth a shot and could lead to identifying something or someone.

 

CONTACT YOUR MICROCHIP COMPANY

Contact the company your dog’s microchip is recorded with and register your dog as stolen. If your dog is scanned by a vet elsewhere, they should then be alerted to this and your dog returned to you.

 

CONTACT LOCAL VETS

Contact all vets in the local area to let them know of the theft. Provide a photo of your dog if possible and include details of any markings or particular features that they have so they can identify them more easily.

 

MAKE THE PUBLIC AWARE

Make other people aware of the theft by putting up posters stating your dog has been stolen, with your contact details on them. You should also post a copy of such posters, or an equivalent, on social media sites. If you ensure that the settings of your post are set to ‘public’ you can ask others to share your post and reach a much wider community. The further your dog’s details are shared, the more chance you have of your dog being identified and returned to you!

 

DON’T GIVE UP

Don’t give up hope! Keep sharing your dog’s details far and wide. Someone somewhere might know something and help you to be reunited.

 

I hope you found the above tips useful. Stay alert and keep safe!

 

Dogtor(tm) Adem

Owner of Dog-ease Training & Behaviour

www.dog-ease.co.uk

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This entry was posted in Dogs


Dog Collar vs. Harness – Which is Better for Your Dog?

It can be tricky to decide whether or not your dog should wear a collar or a harness for walks. A lot of it depends on your dog himself, from the breed to his age and activity level.No matter what type of breed you have, one thing’s for sure, they all need to go out on walks! The main two types of leash attachments that you can use for your dog are harnesses or collars.

Whether you just got a new dog and aren’t sure which to use or you are looking to switch things up, it’s important to know the pros and cons for both dog harnesses and collars before making a decision.

Collars

Pros

Dog collars are the best when it comes to controlling aggressive dogs, puppies or dogs who are in training. It gives confidence to the owners where they can let their dog walk without any fear. It comes with many direct benefits while providing better control to the handler. Dog training is one of the most important reasons for buying a dog training collar. It is one of the first dog training tools that an owner would need. It helps your dog to successfully overcome obstacles. It also helps to guide your dog and secure his attention if it has a short attention span.

Your dog may get a bit rowdy during the walking session. It’s the dog collar that can correct its behavior when it is misbehaving. Dogs can go on jumping fences, playing in woods, or getting into mischief; so, you should consider durable dog collars with breakaway fasteners.

A dog collar is more convenient than a harness: The main benefit of collars

is that they can be left on at all times as opposed to a harness, which should only be worn during walks and it’s much easier to snap a collar on and off than a harness.

Another great benefit of wearing collars comes with the metal ring where you can attach your pet’s ID tag

or name plates with your address, your phone number, veterinarian office phone number or the tag of the dog registration organization where your dog is registered for identification in case he or she gets lost.

Are you a fashionista or do you love to express individuality? You can even use a bow tie or bandana/scarf as an attachment for the collar.

 

Cons

What can go wrong when you lead a dog by the neck? Quite a lot, it turns out.

The safety of your dog’s neck plays a vital role here. If dogs constantly pulls against their collar, they can injure themselves or reduce the airflow they are getting. Some smaller breeds, like miniature dachshund or poodle, are prone to collapsing tracheas, and a rough tug on the collar can quickly turn into an emergency situation.

Other dogs’ necks are as thick as their heads, e.g. pugs and whippets, so slipping out of a collar is effortless. Even if you have a tough mutt or working dog, repeated pulling on the neck can lead to thyroid damage or spinal injuries over time. Please avoid using collars to walk dogs with medical issues such as glaucoma, neck injuries, or spinal malformations.

Collars should also not be used on toy breeds and brachycephalic breeds, such as Chihuahuas, Chinese Crested, Italian Greyhound, Maltese, Toy Poodle, Yorkshire Terrier, Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Pugs and Boxers.

 

Harnesses

Pros

The main benefit for using a dog harness instead of a dog collar is the control you have over overly excited dogs, as you have more control over them. If it comes to safety and security harnesses are generally better at preventing accidents because they fasten more securely around your dog’s body and are simply the most secure, and most comfortable way to hook your dog up to his leash. It covers your dog’s chest, shoulders, and upper back, which disperses pressure over a larger surface area whereas collars give you better control over your dog. While dogs can easily slip out of their collars and potentially run into traffic or another person’s yard, harnesses offer much more security and safety.

A good harness will reduce pulling, increase your control over your pup, and decrease stress on his neck and joints. Bonus points: because it secures closer to the dog’s center of gravity, a harness gets tangled in the leash less and helps prevent jumping.

Also here, for the individualists among us, there are different kinds of harnesses, starting from cool, cute or practical, such as bags where you can put some treats or eco-friendly waste bags.

 

 

 

 

When it comes to specific breeds or diseases, a harness has a better function for your dog:

  • Brachycephalic breed: These breed dogs typically have flatter faces, “shortened head” and refers to the short nose and flat face of dogs like Pugs, Shih Tzus, Chihuahuas, Chow Chows, Pekingese, French Bulldogs or Bulldogs. Respiratory issues may be better managed with a harness.
  • Tracheal collapse: This is a medical condition where the trachea will fold in on itself causing trouble breathing and a cough. Please avoid using a collar because it applies further pressure and can even worsen the condition.
  • Risk factors for spinal problems: A condition called intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) makes long-bodied breeds such as dachshunds very prone to slipped disks. By using a harness you can take pressure off the neck and back and help prevent further damage.
  • Orthopedic disease: Dogs with orthopedic disease can have a hard time getting up to walk so a harness can help you get them up and move around more easily.

 

Cons

Harnesses are just less convenient than collars for humans. A collar can just slip on, but harnesses take more time to fasten.

Harnesses can be uncomfortable: Harnesses are bulkier than collars, so they can be more uncomfortable for your dog. Some dogs really don’t like wearing harnesses, so it can take some time for them to get used to it.

Harnesses may not have a place for carrying an ID tag. It’s best to get a harness with a ring for a tag-or use both a collar with a tag and a harness when out walking.

If your dog wears weather protection or due to some illness needs to wear clothes, a harness might be a bit more of a disadvantage than a collar. The clothes might cover the harness ring(s), so that you’re unable to put a leash on. Alternatively you can attach the harness over the clothes but make sure -in general- it’s neither too tight nor too loose.

 

Summarizing

So, collar or harness – which one is now the better option for your dog? There is no general answer to this question as it always depends on the breed and health of your pooch and the use of the item. However please, always keep in mind:

  • Collars are less restrictive on movement, which is good for working dogs who are running around all day. Collars are also better for dogs that don’t pull and can calmly walk by your side.
  • Harnesses are better for overly excited dogs as you have more control over them.
  • Smaller dogs and brachycephalic breeds should avoid wearing a collar.
  • It is absolutely advisable to get your puppy used to both, collar and harness.
  • If you want to transition an older dog or even a pup from collar to harness be patient – the adjustment phase may take some time. Bring some treats along on your first few harness walks to distract your dog from that unfamiliar feeling, as well as associate the change with positive rewards.
  • It also depends on the use of the item. If you want to have a walk with your buddy or take a ride with him in your car (to fasten the seatbelt), it is recommendable to use a harness. If you just let him out in the backyard or take him to your friends’ house, a collar is totally fine – same goes with dog kennels.

To sum up, harnesses are usually the best choice for walking dogs because they don’t put pressure on the neck. But collars are generally more comfortable and have a place to hold an ID tag. At best, let your buddy wear both: If you can’t attach a tag or name plate to the harness, use a collar for the ID tag and a harness for the leash.

 

 

 

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This entry was posted in Dogs


10 Common Dog Training Mistakes

It’s a fantastic achievement to transform that over-excited, jumping, weak-bladdered puppy into a trained and trusted friend and companion. The transformation isn’t automatic, but comes about through persistence, organisation, and a few simple dog training tools.

You can find several training tips on our Omlet Dog Guide. Here, we’ll highlight a few things that can slow down the training process.

1 – The training sessions are too long.

This is definitely rule number one. Training takes a lot of canine concentration, and if you overdo it, the dog will become bored and/or impatient. And, frankly, so will you. A training session should be between five and ten minutes. After that, it’s time out. You can resume the training with another 10-minute session an hour or so later.

2 – You’re getting impatient.

You might think your dog is the cleverest pet you’ve ever met. But he’s still a dog, and not a human, so you shouldn’t expect miracles. A dog has to concentrate to learn new commands, especially ones that go against his natural instincts to run, bark, eat, and jump up to greet people. Many owners lose patience when, for the umpteenth time, the dog fails to respond to a command, lies down instead of sitting, forgets to wait when you tell him, and so on.

As soon as you lose your temper, your dog will sense the hostility and begin associating training with human anger. Understandably, he’ll not be too keen on taking part in future sessions.

3 – You’re on auto-repeat.

If your dog fails to get the hang of a new command or trick on the third attempt, let it go. The mystified mutt will have made three incorrect guesses, and getting it right after ten attempts will not make the training stick. Revisit these ‘fails’ in later training sessions. Review your approach – was it too vague, too similar to another command, or have you fallen into the traps mentioned in points 1 and 2 above?

Similarly, if your dog fails to lie down when you say “lie down”, don’t repeat the command endlessly. It will tell the dog he doesn’t need to respond immediately, or it might make him think that the command for ‘lie down’ is actually “Lie down! Lie down!  Lie down! Lie down! Lie down!…etc.”

4 – Everyone’s moody.

If a dog is tired, grumpy, hungry, or expecting his regular walk, a training session isn’t going to go down well. The same applies to the human trainer – if you’re not in the best of moods, the dog will know, and neither of you will be in the best frame of mind for a training session.

5 – The default approach is punishment.

There are two ways of training a dog – the old-fashioned correction-based method, and the much better ‘positive reinforcement’ method. The old way involved punishing a dog for getting things wrong, while the modern way is to reward him when he gets it right. Some owners mix and match the two methods, which can be confusing. The poor dog doesn’t know what’s coming next – a tasty treat or an angry gesture.

You should never shout your dog’s name in anger or as part of verbal punishment either, or he will come to associate his name with negative things.

6 – The training is inconsistent.

Always use the same command words for each action, and make sure the dog performs the required action once he’s learned it. If you give the command and then let it slide if the dog doesn’t bother responding, you’re undermining the process. When training a dog you’re establishing sets of rules, and consistency is the only thing that’s going to make them stick.

If using a dog clicker, make sure the clock is reinforced with a treat. And don’t click loads of times for a single training action or behaviour, or the click will lose its meaning for the dog.

7 – The training is tailing off.

If a dog learns new tricks and performs well in early training sessions, it doesn’t mean the behaviours will stick in his head forever. They need reinforcing every day over the dog’s early months, otherwise he will get rusty (a bit like you trying to recall those school French lessons 20 years later). Some owners make the mistake of thinking a paid-for training session can replace a year of regular and patient training. It can’t.

8 – Bad behaviour is being rewarded.

If a dog is misbehaving, it can be tempting to shout his name angrily, and then reward him with a treat or attention when he comes. To the dog this means bad behaviour = reward. Ignore the bad behaviour as much as you can, and draw a line by distracting the dog by asking him to sit or lie down (without using his name). You can then reward the good behaviour.

9 – You’re overdoing the treats.

If dog treats are given too frequently or the portions are too large, the dog may decide, later, that he will only listen if there is food involved. There are also health issues involved with overdoing the snacks too. Praise, play and affection are just as important as food treats when training.

10 – A bull terrier can’t be a sheepdog!

There’s no single ‘best way’ to train a dog. It depends on breed and temperament. So, don’t rely on previous experience or the advice of another dog owner, if the dogs in question were completely different characters. 

No dog is born pre-trained. But by avoiding these 10 common mistakes you’ll make the training much more effective, ensuring that everyone involved – human and dog – has a great time during the process.

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This entry was posted in Dogs


How To Teach A Dog To Swim

Richard Whately, 19th century Oxford academic and Bishop of Durham, taught his dogs to climb trees on the banks of the river Cherwell, and jump into the water from the branches.

Fortunately, there are much easier ways of getting your pet dog used to taking a dip. But the key word in the previous paragraph is ‘taught’. Dogs are not born swimmers – they need teaching to a certain extent, even though most of them can stay afloat and doggy-paddle their way back to shore if you throw them in. But this is certainly not a recommended way to introduce pooch to the pond!

Many of them need no persuasion at all, and jump into rivers, ponds and the sea at every opportunity. Others are less eager to take the plunge, and some breeds are simply not built for the doggy paddle.

Sorting the Water-Dogs from the Non-Swimmers

Dog breeds with no snout, such as the Boxer, English bulldog, French bulldog, Pekingese and Pug, have great difficulties keeping their noses above the water. Their squashed muzzles – ‘brachycephalic’ is the proper term – means they are simply not built for swimming. Similarly, breeds with large heads and muscular upper bodies such as American bulldogs and Staffordshire bull terriers are not able to swim well, or at all.

Dogs with short legs find it hard to get very far in the water, even though they are capable of holding their heads above the surface. This applies to such breeds as the Basset hound and Dachshund.

Taking the First Dip

For dogs that can swim in theory but are a bit nervous, or simply not yet used to taking a dip, there are a few tips and tricks that should turn them into water dogs in no time.

  • Choose a location with water shallow enough for you to easily rescue the dog if it starts to panic. Somewhere with a slope is ideal – a lakeside, a gentle river, or a coastal pool. A paddling pool at home is where many dogs take their first swim.
  • Try to choose a quiet location, to minimise distractions and enable the dog to concentrate on the swimming lesson.
  • Keep the dog on a long lead during these early dips.
  • Take a stick or toy to tempt your dog into the water. If you go in first, the dog will be more inclined to follow. Some will leap in at once, others need more time to get used to the idea. Never drag, throw or otherwise force a dog into water.
  • Doggy lifejackets can be bought, if your pet is particularly nervous, or if you’re not sure whether he will be able to swim very well, based on his body shape.
  • Once the dog is used to being in the water, wade further out (tricky in a paddling pool!) and encourage him to follow you. It’s all about building confidence.
  • To help a nervous dog get used to having its feet off the bottom of the pool or river, hold him by the middle for reassurance. Paddling with the front paws will be instinctive, and you can encourage use of the back legs by raising the dog’s back end slightly. He will instinctively kick his hind legs to regain equilibrium.
  • Once the dog is paddling at the front and kicking at the back, he’s cracked it. You can now let him test his new skill – but stay close and be prepared to hold him by the middle again, in case he tires or suddenly panics.
  • It’s a good idea to take a towel to dry the dog once it’s emerged from the water. Smaller ones in particular can get cold very quickly. Be prepared for a gentle soaking as your wet pet shakes the water from its coat!

For many dogs, the so-called training process will be over in a couple of seconds. Many hounds swim as naturally as they woof – breeds such as Newfoundlands, Poodles, Otterhounds, the various Retrievers, Spaniels, Setters, and – surprise surprise – Portuguese and Spanish Water Dogs, for example.

And rest assured – you don’t need to teach them to climb trees as well!

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This entry was posted in 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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Crate Training Your Dog from The Bark Buzz

Did you just get a new puppy who is learning the rules of the house? Maybe your dog has behavioral problems, such as chewing on shoes or furniture. Or maybe you just want an easier way to travel with your dog. If you’re in any of these situations, crate training your dog might be the best option.

Crate training can be a controversial topic, but if we look at how dogs live in the wild, we realize it is a natural method to keep your dog comfortable and calm. Dogs are naturally den animals, which means that they feel comfortable in a small area they consider safe. A crate can simulate that for your dog.

A couple of other things to consider:
Never use a crate as a form of punishment.
Pay attention to your dog’s reaction to the crate- some dogs are more averse to crates, especially rescue dogs or any dog that spent a lot of time in a cage as a puppy.
Make sure you choose a crate that is properly sized for your dog. You can buy a larger crate that your dog can grow into, just block off a section of it until your dog grows.

Below you will find a guide to crate training your dog the proper way. As with any type of training, never force your dog to do anything they are visibly uncomfortable with. Treat this as another way to bond with your dog!

How to Crate Train your Dog
Courtesy of: TheBarkBuzz

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