Before becoming a professional trainer, I had the normal questions about dog training that most people have. I researched the topic online, read other books and was horrified at the suggestions being thrown around with ease by many different sources. Choke your dog with a choke chain, use a shock collar, squirt your dog in the face with a squirt bottle or throw cans with marbles or pennies were frequently suggested because “that is the way you train a dog”.
Come when called, or recall, is one of the more important behaviors that you can teach your dog. It can also be frustrating to teach if you don’t know some simple rules. Sometimes people get frustrated because their dog “just isn’t getting it” as quickly as they would like. I don’t put a timeframe on training.
It is very important to work with your puppy to teach him or her to have a soft mouth. Dogs don’t naturally understand to be gentle around people unless they are taught the correct way to interact with us. I currently have a client that has a wonderful 9-month-old Labrador Retriever puppy. He is in no way “aggressive” in his behavior, but has the roughest mouth I have ever worked with.
If your dog gets easily distracted outside, increasing the frequency of your dog's attention towards you is an important strategy to practice. This behavior lessens the normal desire to constantly scan the environment for distractions. It is also a very basic way of “starting the conversation” with a dog. If your dog learns to check in by looking at you, it will be easier to ask him to do things that you like such as walking nicely, Stop or come to you. There are two strategies to increase the frequency of eye contact with your dog.
Finding strategies to properly exercise dogs is an ongoing challenge. As puppies get older they might slow down a bit, but they still need daily mental and physical stimulation.
I frequently hear the puzzled remarks of people that have a backyard, but their dog still doesn’t behave properly. It is important for you to remember that dogs often do not self-entertain. Dogs find things to do in whatever space they are in, often choosing activities that we deem inappropriate. Backyard examples include digging, barking and chewing on landscaping.
Sometimes people remark that there must be something wrong with their dog because they still need so much time and attention even though they are in the backyard for hours a day.
Dogs need structured play and training no matter how much space they have to roam. The fantastic benefit of a backyard is that it provides easy access for training sessions, games of fetch and play.
The other issue that I see with backyards is that people get into the habit of letting their dogs out, playing in backyard and not going on walks. The biggest issues that can arise for dogs that don’t get a lot of time out of their yards are decreased skills in leash walking as well as dog-to-dog interactions.
I recently read about a new rescue organization devoted to helping Australian Cattle Dogs find a good home. Australian Cattle Dogs were included on my list of high-energy dogs and it is not surprising that many people find them extremely challenging.
The other day a client asked me why her 1.5-year-old dog urinates on her living room rug about once a month.
My answer? I don’t know.
Just because I am a professional dog trainer doesn’t mean that I know why dogs always perform certain behaviors.
It is often difficult to know how a dog will react to a cat until you see them together. This topic is important if you already have a cat and might be considering bringing a dog into the family. Even though I don’t have a cat for daily practice, 2 of my 3 dogs are totally fine with the small number of cats they have come into contact with.
I get asked this question very frequently. My basic rule of thumb is that all dogs should receive at least 60 minutes per day of physical exercise and 15 minutes of training to be happy, well-adjusted dogs. This is just a starting point. The numbers can vary greatly depending on the age, breed and individual requirements of your dog.