Friday, August 18, 2017

Come when Called, Part Two

Come When Called, Part Two

Come when Called:
We now add all 3 Steps to Come when Called.
1.  Say the dog’s name, and Come.  ONE TIME ONLY.
2.  Have a party.
3.  Lure the dog back to you.

The reason we have 3 steps is, we start with step one, if that doesn’t work, we try step 2, if that doesn’t work, we go to step 3.  Properly practicing the steps and following the rules to Come when Called will help you build a reliable recall.  This is one of the most important things you can teach your dog.  As your dog improves, you must practice by slowly increasing distance, then adding distractions. 

The Rules:
1.  Always have a leash (or fenced-in area).
2.  When you say come, you have to see it/ make it happen.
3.  NEVER punish a dog for coming to you.

When teaching your dog "Come when Called" it is helpful to play a game that we call Puppy Ping Pong.  For this game you need at least two people and one dog.  The main part of this game is to practice the Come command.  Always reward when your dog comes to you, then practice one or two other commands, such as sit, down, look, or any tricks you may be teaching your dog.  Then the next person will call the dog.  Start off about 10 feet away from each other.  As the dog improves, start moving further away and then around obstacles like a wall or tree so that you are out of sight and the dog has to find you.  It is important that if it is not your turn to call and interact with the dog, that you ignore the dog.  It will much harder for the dog to run to the other person if you are looking at them, smiling, or otherwise engaging the dog.  Communicate with your partner during this game so they know when it is their turn to call the dog.

Related Blog articles:
Come when Called, Part One

Friday, August 11, 2017

Playtime with Caravaggio & Ahsoka

Today's video:
A little bit of fun playtime featuring Caravaggio & Devo.  

Caravaggio is our Great Dane/ German Shepherd/ Black Lab mix; he is 9 and a half years old.  He's still doing well but he is getting older and starting to slow down.  We are slowly easing him into retirement.  He still is one of the best dogs I've ever had to help teach a new puppy.  It took him a few days to warm up to the idea that this new puppy was here to stay, but he did.  This is a quick video I caught of them having some fun.  It is important for a puppy to learn to play with dogs of all shapes and sizes.  

Ahsoka is our new puppy.  We adopted her last week.  She is a Lab mix, and now about 10 weeks old.  She was only 9 pounds when we adopted her but she is growing fast.  She will be trained in all the dog basics of course, but will also become my new main working dog (as we retire Caravaggio).  All of my dogs over the years assist me in training and socialization activities with Such Good Dogs.  They are all well versed in what to do or not do around dogs with a variety of behavioral issues.  Each of my dogs also has something in particular that they are best at.  Caravaggio was best at helping assist me in training with aggressive dogs.  He has done amazing over the years at listening to me while not reacting to the other dog's bad behaviors.  I am hopeful that Ahsoka will be able to take his place as my main training dog.  At least, that's the plan.

Devo is also used in training but somewhat less often.  He is social but does not care to play for very long with other dogs.  He prefers the company and love of humans most of the time.  However he is still useful in many situations.  Because of his aloofness and small size, I do not feel he can be my "main" dog used for training.  He's more like our little princess.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Come When Called, Part One

Teaching your dog:  Come when Called
Featuring:  Ahsoka (our 10-week-old Lab mix puppy).

Come when Called:
The Rules:
1.  Always have a leash (or fenced-in area).
2.  When you say come, you have to see it happen.
3.  NEVER punish a dog for coming to you.

The Steps:
  1. Say the dog’s name, and Come.  ONE TIME ONLY.
  2. Have a party.
  3. Lure the dog back to you.

When first teaching a dog Come when called, we start with step 1 & 3.  Standing directly in front of the dog (No distance), put the treat in the dog’s nose, say the dog’s name and Come (one time), then quickly back up a few steps.  When the dog follows, stop, say “Good!” and give the treat.

Related blog articles:
Come when called, Part Two

Friday, August 4, 2017

Puppy Supply Checklist

Today's Video:
What should you have for a new puppy or dog in your home?  Here is your...

Puppy Supply Checklist

There are many things to consider when bringing a new puppy or dog into your household.  Please take your time when choosing to add to your family.  Adopting a new animal into your home should be a decision for a lifetime.  That means you will care for that animal for its entire life.  That could be 10-20 years or more depending on the animal.  Please be responsible and respectful when making your decision.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Meet Ahsoka

Meet our new puppy:  Ahsoka.

She is a Lab mix, currently 9 weeks old and 9 pounds.  
We adopted her from Maui Humane Society.

We are very excited to add a new member to our family.  You will be seeing many future training videos featuring our little girl Ahsoka.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Small dog Puppy Party

Check out our video of a small dog puppy party (and Caravaggio) we had earlier this week.
Remember, socialization is important!


Bambu, a 12-week-old Pomeranian.
Brother Finnegan & Cornelius, 4-month-old Shitzu/ Bichon mixes.
SGDs pack Caravaggio & Devo, and honorary SGDs pack member, Nalu.

Proper Socialization is teaching a dog not to react to everyday things they will encounter by slowly desensitizing them to these things.  It is important to positively expose a puppy to as many different environments and situations as possible.  Keep in mind that exposure
needs to be slowly introduced at the dog's pace, not the owners.  Letting a puppy explore new things at his/her own pace will help them become more comfortable and help avoid negative reactions.  Another way to think of socialization is to consider it desensitization.  For example when having your puppy meet new people remember to include a variety things:  such as people who are short, tall, adults, kids, someone with a hat or glasses, someone in a wheelchair or on crutches, etc.  Improper socialized dogs can be frightened by normal human greeting behaviors.

Proper socialization is the number one way for you to avoid having a dog in the future that will develop serious behavior problems such as aggression. 

Once your dog has been approved by your vet to be around other dogs, start taking your dog everywhere you possible can.  A friend's house, a barbecue, a busy street, different pet stores, or even to work (if you're allowed).  The more places you can take your puppy, the better socialized and more calm your dog will become in any future situation.

Remember to go at the puppy's pace and not your own.  A puppy should always appear happy and relaxed during socialization. 

Socialization for a puppy should start as soon as possible but the best time to socialize a dog is before five months of age.  This does not mean socialization after this age is not important.

Related blog articles:

Trainer Tip:  Proper Dog Socialization
Breed of the Month:  Pomeranian
Breed of the Month:  Bichon Frise

Also scroll down the list at the side of the web page to see many more dog socialization videos.  

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Stay, Step One: Duration (time).

Teaching your dog to STAY.
Step One:  Duration (time).

Means to a dog:  Stay in this place until I come BACK TO YOU to release you.
Practice this cue FIRST.

Means to a dog:  Stay in this place until I ask you to do something else.  
ANOTHER CUE will follow the wait command.

First you must start by teaching a proper Stay command.  Do not move onto teaching the Wait command until you have trained the Stay command in all 3 parts.

3 Parts to the Stay Cue:
1.  Duration (time)
2.  Distance
3.  Distraction

Release Cue:
This means to a dog, you are now free to do what you want.  Common Release Cues include:  Break, Free, & Release.  I highly discourage owners from using “Okay” as a release cue.  This is a very commonly used phrase, and your dog may be randomly released by a passing stranger.  Use commands that are not common in every day speech.

To teach the Stay cue, put the dog into a Sit position in front of you.  Teaching the Stay is command you will need 2 hands for.  One hand will be giving your stop sign hand signal while the other hand delivers treats.  Put the leash under your foot to work without the distraction.  For this, you will also need a Release Cue.  Basically, you will rapidly feed your dog treats to remain in the Stay position.  We are teaching the dog that remaining in a Stay is highly rewarding.  As your dog is chewing the last treat, give your “Good,” then quickly give your Release Cue while turning on your heels and walking away.  Do not worry if your dog does not immediately follow.  After a few practice sessions, they will easily pick up the Release Cue.

To improve the cue, gradually make the dog wait longer between treats.  At first there may only be 1-3 seconds between treats.  As your dog improves, start making it harder and harder by making the dog wait a little longer between rewards.  Do not go too fast.  If you feel the dog is going to break the Stay, either treat them before they move, or release the dog before they release themselves.
It is VERY IMPORTANT to build up time before adding distance or distractions.  Building up a reliable Stay with time will make it easy to transition into training distance and distractions.  You should be able to get your dog to Stay for at least one minute before moving to adding distance.  Work on improving only one part of the stay cue at a time.  First duration, then distance, then distractions.

Related blog articles:

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Dog Paddle Boarding: Day 1

Devo is learning how to paddle board.  Although Devo is not a huge fan of the water, he does enjoy being with mom.  To get him used to how the paddle board works, we have taken him out a calm day.  I am teaching him where to stay on the board and when it is okay for him to jump off and swim to shore (and when it is not).  Today we are doing some basic foot moves and turns to get him used to the movements of the paddle board.  Remember to always use a dog life vest for safety.

Remember to remain calm when teaching your dog something new that they are unsure of or a little scared of.  The more calm and in control you are, the earlier it will be for your dog to learn the new thing and become comfortable to doing it.

Related blog articles:

How to teach your dog to swim
Teach your dog to swim in the ocean:  Step One
Teach your dog to swim in the ocean:  Step Two

Monday, July 10, 2017

Dog wrestle on couch.

Just a quick little video of Caravaggio & Devo playing on the couch.  I think it is adorable when a very large dog plays so well with a very small dog.  It just goes to show that all dogs can be friends given proper training and socialization.

Related blog articles:
Puppy party with Bambu
Devo and the evil hand fan
Socialization with Lucy & Yoshi
Riley plays with tree bark
Puppy loves tennis ball

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

4th of July Trainer Tips

Trainer Tips:
Keeping your dog safe on the 4th of July.

The Fourth of July is today and with it comes some terrifying sounds for your dog.  This  Trainer Tip is focused on keeping your dog safe during the holiday and helping ease his anxiety and/or fear of the sights and sounds.

Have ID on your pet:
This is the number one most important thing!  More pets run away on July 4th than any other day of the year.  Be sure that your pet has proper identification tags with updated contact information.  On the 4th, be sure to keep your pet on a leash and keep a close eye on him when out and about.  

The best thing to do for a dog that gets nervous, anxious, or fearful during fireworks is to properly prepare BEFORE the day arrives.

Desensitize your dog to firework sounds:
One of the best things you can do is to prepare your dog before the 4th by desensitizing him to the sounds and sights of fireworks.  There are several places online that have video and audio downloads.  
Dogs & Fireworks has a free download and step by step guide.

To desensitize your dog to the sounds of fireworks, download one of the many free samples online.  Start by playing it near your dog at low volume while doing normal every-day activities and/or during feeding time.  If your dog seems comfortable, slowly turn up the volume while continuing to do activities.  Be sure NOT to stare at your dog when you play the video/audio clip.
Engage your dog in activities he enjoys while playing the clip in the background.  This can include short training sessions for treat rewards, or maybe a game of fetch.  Be sure your dog appears comfortable and seems to be enjoying himself.  Use high value rewards:  whatever your dog likes best.
If your dog is still feeling comfortable, continue turning up the volume to the max.  Remember to use very high rewards for calm and good behaviors.

Try Lavender Oil:
Lavender is a naturally calming scent for both humans and dogs.  I have recommended lavender in the past for dogs with arthritis.  To use lavender for your dog, take some time to give your dog a massage and give some good petting.  Put just a little dab of lavender oil on your hands before massaging your dog and/or petting him in his favorite spots.  Use nice, calm, slow strokes.  Slowly massaging the outsides of the spine from the neck down is another proven approach.  Be sure not to use a lot of lavender.  A little dab will do just fine.  You do not need a lot to get the smell, and we do not want to have dogs licking excessive amounts of oil off themselves.  The point of this exercise is to associate the smell of lavender with a nice calm, relaxed state of mind.  You should do this for a few days (or more) prior to the fireworks on July 4th.  Your dog will build an association to the smell of lavender and being relaxed and calm.  Before the fireworks begin, put your dog in his "safe place" with the scent of lavender.

Have a "Safe Place" for your dog:

For many dogs the thing that makes them feel best and most safe is to be able to get as far away from the sights and sounds as possible.  Have a spot ready that your dog will enjoy and be comfortable in.  Make it somewhere far away from outside walls and windows.  This will make it easier for him to relax.  The best thing would be a kennel or crate.  Dogs generally enjoy den-like enclosures, and having your kennel or crate set up before the 4th will help them have a nice spot to go.  It is also helpful to place sheets or towels over wire crates to help block sound and lights.  Be sure to take the temperature into consideration.  It is summer and things get hot quickly.  Do not make your "safe place" uncomfortable for your dog by making it too hot.  You are most looking for a den-like area for your dog to feel safe.  If possible feed and/ or treat your dog in this area prior to the 4th.  Make sure the area is lined with a bed or comfy blankets for your pup as well.
Also remember to try and give your dog something he enjoys to help occupy him such as a chew bone or Kong filled with some yummy treats or peanut butter.

This is not something I would generally recommend.  Sedating a dog during fireworks may not have the effect the owner wants.  Sedation may actually make a dog more anxious or nervous.  If this is an option you are considering, please talk to your vet.

Communication & Energy:
If you will be around your dog during the fireworks, the best thing you can do for them is to remember to remain calm and feel like the fireworks are no big deal.  Dogs react to energy.  If your energy is telling your dog that you are calm and not at all worried about the sights and sounds, your dog will feel that it is okay for him to relax as well.

Remember Body Language:
Energy is important, but always remember you also communicate with your dog through body language.  There are three things on your body that are rewarding to dogs.  Touch, talk, and eye contact.  This means that any time you touch a dog, talk to a dog, or look at a dog, you are basically rewarding whatever behavior they are doing.  This is important because we do not want to unintentionally reward bad behavior.  
That means during July 4th fireworks, if your dog appears fearful, anxious, or nervous, do not do any of these 3 things.  Do NOT pet your dog and tell them its okay.  By doing this, you are basically telling your dog to continue being scared.  Obviously this is not what we want.  Instead encourage or lead your dog to their "safe place."  Remain calm.  Ignore any nervous or fearful behavior and only reward calm, relaxed behavior.

Exercise your Dog before Dusk:

A fantastic way to help your dog is to thoroughly exercise him before the fireworks begin.  Be sure to get your evening walk in before it starts to get dark.  The less energy your dog has, the less energy he has to put towards being fearful.  A tired dog will be more comfortable and will be able to more easily ignore the sounds and sights of the night.

Other Helpful Tools:
There are many other helpful tools on the market that you may want to try.  These include soothing dog sounds, and shirts/ vests that are supposed to help keep a dog more calm.
Soothing Dog Sounds:
There are many places online where you can download free or cheap music sounds that have been proven to help calm dogs.  Many people use these sounds or even leave on the radio when their dogs are left home alone.  These soothing dog sounds might be useful to help drown out the scary sounds coming from the fireworks.  Try some free samples here.
Thunder Shirt:
The primary use for this product is for dogs who get nervous during storms, but it may also be helpful for July 4th.  The Thunder Shirt applies gentle, constant pressure to the dog.  It is similar to swaddling an infant.  It is supposed to help sooth the dog and make him feel more safe.  
Calming Cap:
The Calming Cap is a tool used to help block out possible sights that may make a dog nervous or fearful.
Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP):
DAP is a synthetic chemical based on a hormone produced by lactating female dogs that helps keep her puppies calm.  It may help relax your dog during fireworks.  

More Helpful Articles:
Victoria Stilwell July 4th Tips
Nine Calming Aids for Fearful Dogs
Keeping Dogs Calm on the 4th of July

Below is an introduction to the infographic from Kevin O'Donnell...

Keeping your dog comfortable during fireworks this July 4th

Dogs experience fireworks much differently than humans. Their enhanced senses can be causes of stress, anxiety and panic. In fact, more dogs run away on the 4th of July than any other day of the year.

Luckily we are here to help! By taking a few precautions you can keep your dog safe and relaxed. Check out the infographic below for tips on keeping your dog comfortable during fireworks this 4th of July.