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Posts Tagged ‘Positive reinforcement dog training

Things To Do With Your Dog on Rainy Day

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rainy-boxIs the rainy weather keeping you and your dog indoors? Is your dog in need of activities because she is missing her daily walk? Here are some ideas to give your dog some mentally stimulating activities when the weather is bad.

1 Make a play date for indoors

Invite one of your dog’s friends and their owner over for a play date. If your dog gets along with a dog in the neighborhood, or one of your friends dogs, why not invite them over for some indoor fun? If you aren’t comfortable inviting dogs to your house, the Yellow Green Farmers Market is under cover and is dog friendly. Remember to take a towel with you to dry off upon arrival.

2 Try a shaping exercise

If you haven’t see the Sophia Yin video that demonstrates a shaping exercise, a rainy day is a good time to try it out. Shaping encourages your dog’s problem solving skills and is lots of fun once your dog catches on. Clickers are great tools for shaping behavior, but you can use the word ‘yes’ if you don’t have a clicker. Click here to see Sophia Yin’s video.

3 Try some targeting exercises

Targeting involves teaching your dog to touch a designated body part to a designated location. Nose targeting is most commonly taught. You can begin with targeting your dog’s nose to your hand, but using targeting sticks (pictured above) are also fun. In addition, targeting has many practical applications. Click here to read Pat Miller’s fabulous article on targeting.

4 Try doing Nosework (searching)

K9 Fun Nosework is one of my favorite classes to teach. It is all about encouraging your dog’s scenting abilities. The beauty of this exercise is that the dog does most of the work. It is very enriching and burns alot of energy. You don’t have to wait for my next class to try it. Jill Marie O’Brien is the founder of this fun dog sport and I had the pleasure of taking her seminar on teaching “K9 Fun Nosework”. Click here for Jill’s blog about getting started in Nosework.

5 Invest in a new interactive dog puzzle

There are tons of dog toys in pet stores. While squeaky toys and chewing toys are extremely popular, puzzle toys that encourage problem solving can be a great solution to a boring day inside. Why not pick up a puzzle toy on your next pet store visit and put it away for a rainy day?


5 Must Do’s During Your Dog’s First Year

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Sammy loves Starbucks

1 Introduce your puppy to lots of humans
I’m not sure that it’s possible for your puppy to meet too many people in the first few months. Invite friends, family, coworkers and neighbors to your home to play with your new puppy. Introducing treats during the interaction will help your puppy associate humans with wonderful things.

A quick trip to a place like Starbucks is a great method to introduce your pup to a more diverse range of humans. Bring a friend and some treats with you. While your friend is securing your beverage order, you can socialize your puppy. I mean who can resist a puppy? If anyone even makes the slightest cute comment about your pup, ask them if they would like to give your puppy a treat. Your pup is likely to love strangers after a few of these events.

2 Arrange for play dates for your puppy
Safely introducing your puppy to other dogs and puppies is crucial to keep the from becoming dog reactive or dog aggressive later in life. If your puppy has not completed all of his puppy vaccinations, be very careful to go on play dates with dogs and puppies of good health. In addition, a young puppy should never be exposed to dogs of questionable temperament. Allow your dog to play with well mannered, “good” dogs.

3 Take a group class
Group classes are perfect for learning communication skills, making friends, and having some fun in a controlled environment. Your dog will learn to give you focus even in some very distracting conditions. You may need a private lesson or two if you are having trouble with translating what you learned in class to your behavior management issues at home.

4 Send your puppy to sleepovers with trusted friends or family
I know its tough for every pet parent to let go, but a sleepover at a friend’s home teaches puppy that “I’m going to be ok without mommy.” A dog that loves you is wonderful, a dog that is co-dependent is… not so wonderful. Even in a dog friendly world there will be times that you can’t take your dog on vacation or on business trips. Give your puppy the life skill of being ok without you. And of course… allow your friends to spoil the baby with walks, play and games to make good associations with being away from home.

5 Take overnight trips with your puppy
Whether its a dog friendly hotel, staying overnight at a friend’s, or for the really brave… a camping trip, will acclimate your puppy to changes in environment. Many of our Broward County Parks have camping facilities. Make it fun and keep it short.

Dawn’s Top 5 Dog Friendly Places & Events (Greater Fort Lauderdale & Broward County)

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#5 Boater’s Park (accessible only by boat)
North side of the Dania Cutoff Canal, west of Anglers Ave. / Ravenswood Rd., Dania Beach, FL 33312
ImageBoater’s Park is one of those totally underused gems in the park system that I hate to share with the public. The park can only be accessed by boat, which keeps it quiet and clean. With shelters, electrical outlets, clean restrooms, and grills, you and your dog friends can have a perfect day under the shade trees. The iguana population tends to congregate on the seawalls of Boater’s Park, so hang on tight to leashes of prey driven dogs.  Don’t have a boat?  Club Nautico is also dog friendly.  They rent boats.

#4 Markham Park
16001 W. State Rd. 84, Sunrise, FL 33326
markhamMarkham Park has a lovely 3.5 acre off leash dog park, “Barkham atMarkham” that is usually well maintained and landscaped. Remember that visitors of off leash dog parks assume a lot of risk. Use some common sense when deciding to bring your dog. Check the area from the parking lot for aggressive or confrontational dogs. Make sure everyone is supervising their dog(s). If you are comfortable with the dogs and owners, spend some time making new friends. Try to walk the pathways and don’t wait for an incident to occur. Get in and out of there in 20 – 30 minutes. The park also has a rarely used nature trail that is great for reactive dogs. I suggest limiting your visits here to cloudy days as there is ZERO shade in this part of the park. In addition to camping facilities and just a ton of open space, you can also desensitize your dog to gun fire noise here! There is a target range at the far end of the park, so don’t let the noise catch you or your dog off guard. The biggest drawback about this park is that it is located in the evil city of Sunrise. Sunrise carries some draconian ordinances on their books regarding pit bulls. Their ordinances require that pit bulls be muzzled and kept on a six foot leash.

#3 Pine Island Ridge Nature Center
3900 S.W. 100th Ave., Davie, FL 33328
???????????I normally access this park from Tree Tops Park. This area is the highest natural elevation in Broward County and is surrounded by the Forest Ridge community. One of my favorite elements of this park is the abundance of trees and shade. If you are not an early bird, the ridge is a good choice is you want to beat the heat of the south Florida sun. Hang on tight to your dog’s leash; you may encounter Gopher Turtles or horses and riders on the equestrian trail. This is a beautiful place, but sometimes the noise from planes on final approach to Fort Lauderdale Airport can be annoying.

#2 SunTrust Sunday Jazz Brunch and Riverwalk Linear Park
20 N. New River Drive, Fort Lauderdale, FLangelina
First Sunday of the month, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Riverwalk Park, Fort Lauderdale
Whether you are setting up a canopy and chairs (get there early), docking your boat (get there earlier), or just walking through, this event has it all. There are 4 stages, each featuring musical performers. There are food and drink vendors, although many people choose to bring their own picnic or grill. This dog friendly event has plenty of space and shady park areas if you need a quiet space too. The pathways near the stages often get crowded, so be careful. This is a great event to visit with your friends or to meet new dog and human friends. The linear park is a great place to walk your dog on any day of the month, and ends at Las Olas Boulevard where you can grab a bite to eat at a dog friendly outdoor café.

#1 Plantation Heritage Park
1100 S. Fig Tree Lane, Plantation, FL 33317
ph maddieAside from the fact that this park is just minutes from my house and is the park where I teach group dog training classes, this park is my favorite. With a large fishpond and fruit trees, this county park has a neighborhood feel to it. There are people that walk and socialize their dogs at Plantation Heritage daily. For dog owners with reactive dogs, there is a nature trail that is rarely visited, and there are only a few blind corners on the walking paths. There are plenty of ducks and geese to entertain your dog (beware of the poop on the pathway). On Tuesday evenings, the park does a food truck event that is family and dog friendly. There are no off leash areas in this park, but it is a short car ride to Happy Tails Park. One drawback, a disc golf course was recently constructed at this park. If your dog is a Frisbee fan, this may pose a big challenge for you.

What are you waiting for?  Get out there with your dog!!

What is dog socialization?

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Socializing Sammy

Dog trainers like me forget that we sometimes speak our own language.  Yesterday, after I kept repeating that her puppy needed socialization urgently, my client asked what that meant.  My bad.  Not everyone knows.  When I searched my usual resources to find a succinct definition, it wasn’t easy to find.  Everyone expects you to already know.  So, thanks for the great question.

Dr. Ian Dunbar, the founder of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers defines it as, “Socialization is the process of becoming familiar with all kinds of animals, people, places, and things; as well as learning how to behave in society.”

People want their dogs to feel safe and comfortable in all of the situations that they encounter in the future.  Dogs should be happy to explore new places, meet new people, and meet new dog friends.  There should be no fear associated with these encounters.

Socialization is one of the most urgent priorities of puppy owners because their is a window of time where puppies are most accepting of this process.  I have written a few articles on socialization, and I can see the need to do more.  Basically we expose puppies to new people, places, and things at an intensity where the pup is comfortable.  We also pair the experience with delightful things like toys, play, and food.  Dr. Dunbar and another one of my heroes, Dr. Sophia Yin have written many books and articles on the subject.  Stay tuned for more blogs about socialization from Oh Behave too.

Finding Time To Maintain Your Training

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Play with me!

Working training into your daily schedule doesn’t have to be a chore.  As a dog trainer that completely understands the busy lives of her clients, part of my job is to help my clients find time to make training a part of their daily life.  Admittedly, when you get your new puppy or a dog that is new to you and your home, a lot of time has to be devoted to housetraining, socialization, bite inhibition training, basic obedience, and addressing special needs of rescues if needed.  Teaching your new dog or puppy how to get a long in your life takes a lot of up-front time and dedication.  For those of you that have trained with me, thanks for making that commitment to your new family member.  I know it was sometimes frustrating and emotional, but I’m sure most of you will agree it was worth it.  So what happens after all of this exhausting work during the first year?   Well, a few (very few) will get the training bug and go on to intermediate or advanced levels, competitive activities, or therapy work.  But most dog owners forget to maintain their new found skills and then find themselves in embarrassing situations at dog friendly events or out in public when they least expect their skills to fail them.

The key to maintaining your basic skills is to practice them often and in different environments. My best advice about remembering to practice and finding time for it is… MAKE IT FUN!  First think about some of the fun things you do with your dog.  A quick training session can take place in or near the parking lot of your favorite venue.  Some of Maddie’s favorites are:  a county park, a nature trail at a county park, dog friendly events, Sunday morning Jazzfest, or a quick trip to Starbucks.  Keep your practice session short.  The reward is getting to do whatever activity you came to do, once your dog completes a couple of quick cues.  Start with something easy.  Hopefully you’re not so woefully out of touch that your dog forgot ‘sit’ or ‘watch me’.  If you are in that category, you’re going to need a few remedial trainings at home in a distraction free environment first.  What else do you do for fun?  How about playtime in the backyard?  There’s no rule that says that playtime can’t include some practice too.  Why not incorporate a ‘down stay’ in exchange for throwing the ball?  How about a ‘drop it’ in exchange for a tug game.  Most dogs consider walks to be pretty fun.  Why not try some snazzy heeling in the driveway in exchange for a brisker than usual pace on the walk, or trying a new and previously unsmelled route?

I will leave you with my personal favorite for finding time every day to practice with Maddie:  training while multitasking.   Maddie has figured out that while I blow dry my hair is a great time to drop a toy at my feet and give me that pathetic look so I’ll kick it to her.  Currently, I am working on ‘back up’ in exchange for me to kick a toy.  There are no rules against multitasking while training.  You can also incorporate this into your TV watching rituals and cooking tasks.  Be creative and have fun!!

Dog Outside & Unsupervised? It’s Risky!

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Fort Lauderdale Police Dept leaves gates open after searching for perpetrators

There are probably a few of you out there that leave your dog outside and unsupervised in a fenced yard, that will never have anything bad happen to your dog.  This article is not for you.  This article is for  every dog owner that has called me or will call me in the future because they leave their dog outside unsupervised in their fenced yard and something bad happens.  While I am totally opposed to dogs living outdoors, bad things can happen even when a dog is left unsupervised in a fenced yard only for a few minutes.

How many reasons do you need to NOT leave your dog outside and unsupervised, even for a few minutes, in a fenced yard?

1) The open gate.  If your gates are not locked, someone (lawn guy, pest control guy, law enforcement, etc) will leave it open when you least expect it.

2) The fence can be jumped or climbed.

3) There is a hole or another area that can be compromised with a little digging or squeezing through.

4) You cleverly put your dog on a chain or tether so she wouldn’t jump the fence, but gave her too much line.  You came back outside to a dog hanging death.

5) You tether your dog without enough lead to hang himself… BUT have made it aggressive because you did not keep him safe from things he may fear.  He is tethered so he cannot flee from frightening people or animals that are around when you are not looking.  Better lawyer up for the bite that’s in your future…

6) Bufo toads.  Click here if you don’t know about them.

7) Your dog is prey driven and will kill any animal that comes into his space.  Hey if you’re ok picking up the pieces and hiding the next door neighbor’s dead cat in your garbage bin.. rock on.

8) The great Evinrude theft of 1988.  I lived across the street from 3 dobermans and a boat with 3 Evinrude engines in South Miami.  One morning the Evinrudes disappeared and the dogs were found dead from poisoning.

9) Sicko people/sicko kids – They taunt, abuse, throw rocks at, beat, and steal unattended dogs.  Are you ok with that?  PS.  If you don’t know what happens to stolen dogs… WARNING- GRAPHIC PHOTO click here to learn about where bait dogs are obtained.

10) The next door neighbors that call animal control every time your dog makes just the smallest sound.  Have fun with those citations and interviews.

11) Poisonous plants.  Are you sure all of your plants are safe for dogs?

12) Destructive behavior – I have received countless calls about shredded outdoor furniture, ruined landscaping, and destructive digging so bad that it involved interruption of cable tv service.

13) For escape items 1-3 above… while roaming, your dog bites a child or another dog or gets caught killing a cat, another dog or a kid.  See #5  – better lawyer up and prepare to take responsibility for the death of another living creature.

14) The pool/canal.  Are you sure your dog knows how to get out safely if he falls in?  Is there a way out of your canal?  I’m not going to tell you about the condition of the bodies of dead animals that have floated to my dock because they fell off their dock and couldn’t swim to safety.

15) Other dogs and dangerous creatures.  What if an aggressive dog can get in your fence and kills your dog?  I’ve even read about a swarm of bees killing an unattended dog in the yard.

16) Stupid people (city employees from Hollywood, FL or ignorant landlords from Hollywood, FL)… they open the unlocked fence and walk into the yard and get bit.  See #5: lawyer up if you have any assets to lose.

17) Trigger happy law enforcement.  Haven’t you read the headlines?  A police officer responds to domestic violence call and kills the family pet because he went to the wrong address.

18)  Barking to be let back in the house with the family. If you are out there in the yard, your dog will have no need to bark to be with the family.  If you are ok with the barking, I hope your neighbors are ok with it too.  If not, see #10, annoying next door neighbors that call Animal Control.

19) Presents.  This is a continuation of #7, but instead of leaving the dead or maimed animal outside, your dog sneaks it back in the house.  A dead animal on your living room floor is one thing, but it gets really exciting if the animal is alive and flees somewhere in the house where you can’t find it.  It will come out and visit later.  Rats are real crowd pleasers.

20) Broward County Animal Care Fee Schedule.  Yes there are fines associated with your dog ending up at the shelter.  Add together an “at large” fine and the boarding fee, and then taking your dog to the veterinarian because he contracted kennel cough or something worse, it gets pretty pricey.  Oh and oops, did you forget to vaccinate or register your dog? – That’s $300 bucks!

It’s up to you what level of risk you are willing to take with your dog’s safety.  It’s important to know what can potentially happen to unsupervised dogs to make an educated decision about risk.

Written by dawnhanna

September 2, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Getting the Most From Group Classes

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Enzo, a proud recent grad

Group dog training classes are typically reasonably priced and a great opportunity to learn valuable skills.  There are so many learning opportunities and socialization opportunities involved in taking a group class.  Here are some tips to make the most of your group class experience.

*Find a class taught by a Certified Professional Dog Trainer.  There are plenty of hobbyist dog trainers giving classes.  You will be much more likely to incorporate what you learn in class into your every day life if the teacher is a professional that receives continuing education, and is up to date on the latest training methods and equipment.

*Find a class that uses positive reinforcement methods and does not allow coercive, or aversive methods in class.  The old school jerk and pull leash corrections can lead to aggression or fear aggression in some dogs.

*Make note of any prerequisites and be honest with yourself about if you meet these requirements.  For example, enrolling in my Rally class if your dog doesn’t sit or down on cue would be very frustrating for the student. 

*Follow your trainer or their company on social media.  I post tons of articles, tips, and dog friendly events on the Oh Behave Facebook page and my Twitter page.  It’s free information from reputable sources.  Why not take advantage of it?

*If the teacher and space at the facility allow for it, arrive to class a few minutes early.  It’s a great opportunity to get individual attention from the trainer if he or she is not teaching another class.  In addition, most dogs need some time to acclimate to the environment before they are ready to give you their attention and focus.

*Read your syllabus and handouts, do your homework, and come to class prepared.  Your experience in class will be frustrating if you are not using the right equipment, treats, or have not practiced.

*If space and the teacher allow it, have all adults in the family attend class.  It is best to avoid changing handlers in the middle of class, but the adults in the family should be familiar with all of the practice exercises to provide consistency at home.

*Make friends with your classmates after class.  If appropriate, making friends with other students in class is a great way to continue to socialize your dog.  Some of my students have enjoyed the company of their classmates at dog parks and other venues because they made that connection in my class.  Remember, not all dogs are appropriate for play sessions with other dogs.  Be sure to ask the owner first.

Your group class experience should be fun, informative and a great value.  Make the most of your experience.