Posts Tagged ‘train your dog’

Dog Trick Training Goals for 2014

February 3, 2014
Pierson on a Leash with Look Command

Because Pierson knows the “look” command, it is easy to get his attention so he can learn new dog tricks.

On Friday, I went over how I’ve managed to keep my New Year Resolution to teach Maya and Pierson more dog tricks. So far we are on the right track. But a resolution shouldn’t end after just one month. I want to keep going. So I’ve made a list of tricks and have resolved to teach at least one a month:

*Heel-Sit – Maya and Pierson know heel and they know sit, but they don’t know how to do both at the same time with a specific command. Yes, they will sit at my side if I stop walking at a walk, but I want them to be able to do it when I call them from across the yard or something.

*Sit in a Specific Spot – I think once they learn to heel and sit at my side on command, it will be easier for me to teach them to sit in a specific spot I point to. This will help me with photo-taking.

*Stand – Stand means to stand up on four feet after being in a sit or down position. Sephi knew how to do this one, but I don’t think I taught Maya. Or if I did teach it to Maya, I haven’t made her do it in so long that she’s probably forgotten.

*Back up – To back up means to walk backwards. I think it will be easy and fun to teach. It can be especially useful if Maya and Pierson are trying to crowd me for their treats or toys.

*Cover Your Eyes – I don’t think this one will be easy, but I think it would be fun to try anyway. They both know how to shake, and I saw in a book how I can get them to cover their eyes.

*Wave – I started this one with Pierson some time back but didn’t stick to it. Once I have a better idea on how to teach it, and when I commit to teaching more consistently, I think both he and Maya will get it.

*Roll in a Blanket – I bet Pierson will learn this one easily since he’s done it on accident a few times. He will already grab his blanket on command so it is a matter of getting him to roll over with it in his mouth. Teaching this to Maya will probably be more difficult since she has no interest in the blanket.

Pierson Playing with Blanket

Pierson was getting stir crazy in winter. He wrapped this blanket around his head by himself while playing.

*Jump Up – I won’t teach this to Maya because I am worried she may develop arthritis. She’s a Lab and I understand Labs are quote prone to this. Pierson, on the other hand, is quite bouncy. It will be a breeze to teach him to do this on command.

*Put Toys Away – This one will be the most challenging. I can already get them to pick up a toy, but to teach them to put it in their toy box will be a bit more challenging. Putting toys away is completely backwards from what they want to do with the toys!

I got many of these ideas from the “101 Dog Tricks” book by Kyra Sundance and her dog Chalcy. She has some great ideas on how to get dogs to put toys away and cover their eyes. The book does not give detailed step-by-step, like what showed on Friday for teaching “all the way” and “hold”. But since I am a certified dog trainer, I can fill in the blanks easily enough.

This list may change or be taught in a different order. But having a list will help me stay on track with our dog training resolution. If Maya and Pierson learn each trick so quickly, why am I taking a whole month between each? There are a few reasons for this:

1. Reinforcement – Repeating the same trick for several days helps them retain what they’ve learned.

2. Gives Confidence – By having Maya and Pierson do dog tricks they already know, they have the confidence and the desire to learn more.

Synchronized Spinning

Synchronized Spinning – Maya and Pierson have this trick mastered. So if they don’t succeed at a new trick, I give them the command for another trick they know well so that training ends on a positive note.

3. Keeps Training Fun – Learning is more fun when you do things right. If you’re being told you’re doing things wrong more often than you’re being told you’re doing things right, then learning becomes a chore. When dog training becomes a chore, it is more challenging and, therefore, more frustrating. We enjoy training and we want to keep it that way.

Dog Tricks for Treats

Learning is also more fun when you get lots of treats. 😉

Do you like teaching your dog new tricks? What are some dog tricks you want to try?

January Train Your Dog Challenge

January 31, 2014

One of my resolutions for 2014 is to teach Maya and Pierson more dog tricks. So far, I have been pretty good about keeping this resolution. Maya and Pierson have learned two new things this January.

TEACHING ALL THE WAY (aka head down)

You saw Maya do the “all the way” trick posted on January 6th. Now I have a photo of both Maya and Pierson doing it together.

Head Down All the Way Dog Trick 002

Maya and Pierson have both mastered the dog trick where they put their heads all the way to the floor.

Have your dog lay down in front of you. Tell them to stay, and then squat down and put the treat in front of them. If they reach for it, say “no”, “eh eh”, or “wait”. Slowly bring the treat (or toy) to the floor, leading their nose downward. Say “all the way” or “head down” the moment their chin touches the floor. Then say “good” and give them the treat or toy as a reward.

If they have a hang of this, move the treat down and a little out so that their entire muzzle is flat on the floor. Next, work your way up to where they don’t just touch the floor, but actually rest their head on the floor for a few moments.

Eventually, you will be able to say the command without having to put the treat in front of their nose and leading them into the position. Don’t worry if they don’t get to this point right away, like Maya. Train for only a few minutes at a time and be sure your training session always ends with a reward. So if your dog doesn’t get to the point where his entire muzzle is on the floor, that’s okay. Reward him if he is at least getting his chin to touch the floor. Reward your dog for what he can do and stop training before your dog gets bored or before either of you get frustrated.

The hardest part of this trick for both Maya and Pierson was keeping them from trying to crawl after the treat in my hand. It’s easier to teach this trick if your dog already knows to stay or wait.

TEACHING HOLD AND CATCH (aka balancing a treat on the nose then flipping it into the mouth)

The next trick is still in progress. I’m trying to get them to balance a treat on their nose, and then catch it when I give the release command. Once again, Maya was the first to get a hang of the trick. She will hold still without me having to hold her nose while Pierson still needs me to touch him. Both of them are still trying to learn how to flip the treat into their mouths rather than flip the treat behind them. Maya catches them more often than Pierson.

Pierson Balances Dog Treat on Nose

“I can see the dog treat. Why can’t I eat it?”

To teach this trick, hold your dog’s muzzle. Be gentle. Don’t make them uncomfortable, but hold on well enough that they can’t move around. When they seem to be holding still, give the “hold” command. Reward.

Next, add a treat to the mix. Hold your dog’s muzzle and gently balance the treat on their nose. This is a very tough one for most dogs because the can see the treat and really want to move so they can get the treat. Hold their nose gently and say “hold”. If they try to move out of your hand say “no” or “eh eh”, whichever your dog is more familiar with. If you dog doesn’t try to move out of your hand, hold for a few seconds. If he does try to move out of your hand, hold for only a split second. Try to only hold for just under the most amount of time your dog will hold still. You can gradually increase this amount of time over several training sessions.

When you reward them, let go of their muzzle and give the release command. I can say “catch”, but I use “okay”, which is the command I use to release them from “stay” or “leave it”. At this point, don’t worry about whether your dog flips the treat in their mouth. You want to teach them to balance it first.

Once you think they understand the “hold” command means to hold still, cradle their muzzle in your hand rather than hold it. After several successes, simply touch their chin when you give the “hold” command. Eventually, you can have them balance the treat on their nose without you having to hold them still at all.

Pierson Tries to Balance Dog Treat on Nose

I still have to touch Pierson’s chin in order to get him to hold still and balance the dog treat on his nose.

To teach them to catch the treat rather than flip it backwards is not easy. The best way I can say to do this is to double-reward them when they do it. In other words, if you give the release command and the flip the treat behind them, let them get the treat as their reward. But if they actually flip the treat in their mouth, give them another great right away and give lots of extra praise. Make a big deal out of their success.

The hardest part about this trick for Maya and Pierson is teaching them to hold still. I think it was easier for Maya because I have sort of used it before when I tried to balance my glasses on her nose.

Maya Balancing Dog Treat on Nose

Maya is good at balancing a dog treat on her nose.

Student Dog Maya Wearing Glasses

Maya already knew how to hold still and balance a pair of glasses, so teaching her to balance a treat on her nose was easy.

January is train your dog month. Dog training doesn’t have to be a chore. Teaching tricks is a lot of fun. So take up the challenge and remember to keep training sessions short and train often.

To see what’s next on our dog trick training agenda, come back on Monday to see. 🙂

Check out the blog hop below for more Train Your Dog stories, tips, and challenges.

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Clicker Training Your Dog – Is it for You?

January 3, 2011
Clicker Training

Clicker for Clicker Training Your Dog

As a dog trainer, I think the clicker is an awesome training tool.  Even though clicking to train sounds very simple, it has to be used appropriately or it may not work effectively.  You have to click the moment the dog does good.  And you have to use it EVERY time.  As a dog trainer, I don’t use the clicker.  Why isn’t it for me?  Because I prefer to give verbal praise.  I just can’t help myself.  Trying to get in the habit of clicking is really difficult for me since I have trained using verbal praise my entire life.  And I started dog training early (I started at age 10 with my beloved Sheltie and childhood friend, Cassie).

If you are new to dog training or you think you can overcome your preconditioned methods of training, the benefits to clicker training are many:
*Positive reinforcement – Clicker training followed by a treat is a clear signal to your dog that they did well.  When they don’t do well, they don’t get a click and don’t get a treat.  No negative reinforcement applies with clicker training.
*No force – There is no need to force your dog with a leash or collar jerk with clicker training.  Reward your dog when he does what you want and do nothing when they don’t.
*Easy to use – It is a simple click and a treat.
*Easy for the dog to understand – Your voice can vary in tone and you may inadvertently convey frustration or impatience.  The click is a clear and concise sound.  If the clicker is used consistently and right when your dog does well, they quickly come to understand the sound of the click as a job well-done.
*Builds confidence in the dog – Rewarding your dog when they do well with a click and avoiding any negative reinforcement helps your dog learn what to do instead of what not to do.
*Great training tool for dogs who are usually shy or stubborn during training – Both shy dogs or stubborn dogs can give up during training if they are having trouble understanding what you are trying to teach.  Clicking gives a clear signal of when they have done well.

If you are considering clicker training for your dog, be sure that the answer to the following questions are yes:
*Can I remember to use the clicker during training every time my dog does well?
*Can I consistently click right at the moment that my dog does well?

For a basic beginning in clicker training and tools, visit our a-Store – Dog Training Supplies.

New Year’s Resolution – Train Your Dog

December 31, 2010


Dog Training Can Be Fun

Perhaps you read one of my posts about the book “101 Dog Tricks”.  In that post, I said I was going to train Maya some of the tricks.  Well, guess what?  I haven’t.  I have been making excuses and procrastinating.  Enough is enough.  It is time to get back on track.

Perhaps you also have a dog which you have been meaning to train.  Well, it’s the new year.  Let’s start a New Year’s Resolution and make a plan.

The first part of the plan is eliminate excuses.  One of the biggest excuses (and one which I have used) is that we just don’t have enough time.  Well, this excuse is really really thin.  You only need to spend 5 minutes a day for training.  That’s it!  Just 5 minutes.  If you want, you can spend two 5-10 minutes sessions a day.  But if time is an excuse, then just do 5 minutes once a day.

Another excuse is that your dog just may not be motivated.  While it is true that some dogs are hard to motivate, you can start your training sessions with things that are easy and fun for your dog.  The easier it is for your dog to earn rewards, the more likely they are to participate in training.  Start simple and work your way up.

Another excuse is that perhaps you do not know how to train.  With all the resources we have available, this excuse should no longer apply.  If you are reading this post, then you have access to the internet.  And with access to the internet comes a lot of free information.  There are websites galore out there who can give you some great tips.  And you don’t have to limit yourself to just reading about dog training.  There are lots of dog training videos on You Tube.

After you eliminate your excuses, it is time to prepare.  Preparation includes getting treats which your dog loves and the right equipment for dog training.  Treats should be small, even for big dogs.  Dog training supplies can include a clicker (if you choose to use clicker training methods), leash, or a treat pouch.  None of these things are required, but they can help. 

And the final step you need to make before beginning is to make a schedule.  A good time to train is after you eat dinner but before your dog eats his.  Or perhaps you can do it right when you get home from work.  But set a time and stick to it.  After a week or two of fun dog training, your dog will know and look forward to the training schedule.

Training your dog is very important.  A well-behaved dog is a happy dog.  And a family with a well-behaved dog is a happy family.  So no more excuses.  It is time to get out and train!