Back to School for Dogs Too – Basic Dog Training Session 2

Basic Dog Training for Your Inquisitive Canine

Hey there inquisitive dog lover! Welcome to session 2 of our Back to School for Dogs Too basic dog training series. If you’re just joining us, check out session 1 for tips and lessons on getting started. If you’re continuing on, we say “Yay!” click-treat, and thank you for participating.

For this specific installment of basic dog training techniques, we will be focusing on “Sit” and “Down.” As a certified trainer, I have come to lump these, along with eye-contact, as the main trifecta of dog behaviors. If your inquisitive canine can master these, then you will not only set yourselves up for success, but will also create a solid foundation for many other behaviors and situations.

Here are basic dog training techniques you can learn from home. Here we go!

Sit

  • Wait for your dog to sit. As soon as his or her rump hits the floor/ground, “click and treat” (C/T) or use your marker word, as explained and outlined in Session 1 of our Back-to-School program.
  • If your dog doesn’t sit automatically, hold a treat at the tip of his or her nose and move it up and over his or her head, back towards his or her rear end. Your dogs head should look up while shifting his or her weight back, ending up in a “sit.
  • Once your dog starts sitting reliably every time, you can add in the cue word “sit.” Practice doing this 5-10 times: saying the word “sit,” pause to see if he or she does, if not use the food lure then C/T.
  • Repeat this until you no longer need the food lure.

Down

basic dog training tips for moves like sit and down
Kona practicing his “Down”
  • Begin with a treat in one hand, placing it on the tip of your dogs nose, slowly move it downward towards the ground, guiding him or her into a “down” position. As soon as your dog lies down C/T.
  • Repeat this “lure and reward” technique until your dog does the motion reliably, without pausing. When he or she does the motion reliably, you can begin to add the cue word “down,” before luring.
  • Say the word “down,” pause to see if your dog lies down, if he or she does then C/T, if not, then use the lure-reward technique to move him or her into the position, then C/T.

Repeat the following sequence for both Sit & Down:

  • Say it:        “Sit” or  “Down”
  • Show it:      Lure
  • Pay it:         Click-Treat

As your dog begins offering the behavior reliably, you can begin to fade out the food lure, using only your hand signal as a prompt. Still C/T after your dog lies down, and reward!

Tips & Troubleshooting:

  • Repeat this sequence until your dog is following reliably, then begin to fade out the food lure, using only your hand signal.
  • Practice “Sit” & “Down” in a variety of locations. Even 2-3 times a day for 2-3 minutes can be very helpful.If your dog jumps up to get the treat, lure him or her back into the down position before giving it to him. (You don’t need to “click” again.)
  • If your dog is having trouble lying down, try starting him or her from the sitting position. An alternative is to C/T for smaller, baby-steps towards the final down position – head focused downward, elbows bent, chest on ground, etc.
  • Remember to use the cue only once!
  • Wanna advance your skills? Use only the verbal or visual cue in different locations with different distractions. To “test” if your dog understands, ask a stranger to give the cue!

For a fun way to practice both “Sit” & “Down” at the same time, try”Puppy Push-Ups”! 

Remember to check back for upcoming Back to School and basic dog training posts (or subscribe to our blog), to keep up with behavior momentum and fluency!

* * *

Wanna join the conversation? Just head to the comment section below. Care to share pics and videos of your inquisitive canine?  We invite you to post on our Facebook page.

Yellow Vest: Service Dog or Canine Fashion Statement?

No matter your politics, I think you’ll join me in saluting the United States Department of Justice for its clarification on service animals – FAQs on Service Animals. As a certified professional dog trainer and behavior consultant, I see SO much inconsistent information on the subject. “I have heard stories  from well-intentioned dog lovers  — and even witnessed — what I would consider law-stretching and boundary-crossing. Some of these actions risk endangering the public, and putting dogs at risk too. Plus, they could create situations where laws would be changed that negatively impacted those that really need services dogs.”  We encourage you to read through all of the FAQs on Service Animals.

This guide dog is considered a service animal because it is trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.
This guide dog is considered a service animal because it is trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.

Written in clear, concise language, the FAQs on Service Animals starts with the basic questions “What is a service animal?” and moves into the more complex, such as “What does under control mean? Do service animals have to be on a leash? Do they have to be quiet and not bark?” (Yes, that is one question. Question #27, to be exact.)

You’ll find surprising information, too. Check out  Question #17. “Does the ADA require that service animals be certified as service animals?” The answer is: “No.” Well shoot, I got this one wrong! “Covered entities may not require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal, as a condition for entry.” And you may be surprised to learn that service animals don’t need to wear a yellow vest or an ID tag, special harness, or any color vest, for that matter.

See if you know the answers to these questions. Check your answers here: FAQs on Service Animals.

  • #31 – Are stores required to allow service animals to be placed in a shopping cart?
  • #32 – Are restaurants, bars, and other places that serve food or drink required to allow service animals to be seated on chairs or allow the animal to be fed at the table?
  • #33 – Are gyms, fitness centers, hotels, or municipalities that have swimming pools required to allow a service animal in the pool with its handler?

The DOJ clearly spells out the difference between service dogs and therapy dogs. Therapy dogs, sometimes called comfort or companion animals, provide comfort by being with a person and have not been trained to perform a specific job or task. But we think they should be able to pass one of the various 10-step evaluations such as the one provided by Love on a Leash to ensure they have the skills to be comfortable and polite in public. And, by the way, misrepresenting a dog as a service dog is pretty serious business. Don’t do it.

The Love on a Leash nonprofit is a wonderful resource for learning more about therapy dogs. And how your dog can become one. As a certified professional dog trainer and behavior consultant, I am eligible to administer the Love on a Leash. If you would like more information on the process, or would like your inquisitive canine to be tested, we invite you to contact us.

* * *

Wanna share pics and videos of your inquisitive canine? We invite you to post on our Facebook page.

A Dog Training Pop Quiz: Is Your “Home Alone” Dog Bored or Stressed?

Spring is in the air! Soon the dog days of summer will be here. What do the warmer weather and change of seasons mean for your inquisitive canine? Will he or she be spending more time alone? Will they have to entertain themselves? If there’s a sudden shift in your routine and your dog isn’t used to solitude, and doesn’t like it, there may be some behavioral issues coming down the pike.

Poncho and I developed this Home Alone quiz to help determine if your dog might be bored, be on the brink of isolation distress (or separation anxiety), or just hunky dory with some new found solitude.

Q: Going through your ritual to leave for work and/or school, your dog:

  1. Lies on his or her bed, watching you get ready, relaxed.
  2. Begins pacing around back and forth, clinging to you.

    Footer-Testimonial
    Some dogs enjoy catching up on naps or gnawing on chew toys when left alone during the day.

Q: You head out the door and close it. Your dog:

  1. Stays behind, relaxed as if they’re saying “Have a nice day!”
  2. Whimpers, whines, and scratches at the door to go with you.

Q: You come home from being away for only a half hour or so. It appears your dog:

  1. Didn’t appear to care one way or another. He or she was happy when you got home, and nothing out of the ordinary when they greeted you.
  2. Eliminated on the rug, chewed up the door and window frame, vocalized to your neighbors, and even left the tasty treats you offered up.

Q: You come home from being gone all day. It appears your dog:

  1. Didn’t appear to care one way or another. He or she was happy when you got home, and nothing out of the ordinary when they greeted you.
  2. Eliminated on the rug, chewed up the door and window frame, and left the bowl of food alone, chewed up paws, and according to your neighbors barked and howled all day.
  3. Is excited to see you, as if running to say “Welcome home!” However, you notice that not only is the food in the bowl gone, but your dog went counter-surfing and dumpster diving in your kitchen, redecorated the living room by chewing up the couch and pillows, helped with laundry by dragging it all over the house and chewing up your new socks, and topped it off by re-landscaping the yard by digging up the flowers you just planted.

THE RESULTS

If you’ve answered mostly 1 for each question, then bravo to you! You’ve done a great job at teaching your dog to be independent and comfortable on his or her own! If you’ve answered mostly 2 for each question then we recommend you consult with a certified professional dog trainer who specializes in separation anxiety conditions or vet behaviorist to discuss signs and symptoms related to canine isolation distress.

There are medications and behavior modification plans that can be implemented to help with these issues. If you’ve answered 3 to the last question, then consider your dog might be bored – scenarios such as this means your inquisitive canine is designing his or her own scavenger hunt! Providing enrichment is key to help prevent boredom-related issues.

Being passionate about this topic ourselves, we’ve blogged about it a lot! So click here to find out more about enrichment for dogs.

Keep in mind that our canine companions are social animals. They enjoy the company of others and often do not do well when left alone – unless you condition them to do so. Taking the time to teach them independence and coping skills are key to raising a healthy and happy dog!

 Updated January 27, 2018

Jack Russell Superstar: The Amazing & True Tale of Jesse the Jack

What’s your Inquisitive Canine’s favorite thing to do? Sniff? Explore? Agility?  Maybe yours is more of the eat, pray, love type. My sidekick Poncho enjoys a lot of different activities, and he’s very good about any work-related task I request of him.

I’m bringing this up because of one of my favorite videos. Just Jesse the Jack stars Jesse, a Jack Russell Terrier, and Heather, his genius handler. Heather honed in on Jesse’s natural abilities and taught him amazing things by capitalizing on behaviors she liked and putting them to good use.

I know you’ll enjoy and appreciate Jesse. While watching the video, zero in on how Heather adapted his innate canine skills to our human environmental needs.

For example:

  • Retrieving – brings the television remote.
  • Targeting – uses nose and paws to close doors and cabinets.
  • Jumping – grabs things for Heather.
  • Digging – uses paws to massage Heather’s back and to clean the sliding glass door.
  • Tugging – helps Heather get dressed and tucks himself into bed.

Oftentimes, the always exuberant Jack Russell Terrier isn’t taught to direct his abilities in appropriate ways. The excellent digging skill results in a torn up lawn or tugging turns a couch into a shredded mess. Behaviors need to be put to use in ways that are fun for your dog and for you.

So, Inquisitive Pet Parent, what can your dog do? Any behaviors that can be redirected?  Leave a comment because we’re inquisitive, too!

We’d love to make some new friends. Post snapshots and videos of your favorite Inquisitive Canine on our Facebook page

Training Options for Outgoing Dogs

The list of inquisitive canine-specific sport and activities keeps growing and growing, and as a dog trainer and dog mom I think that’s fabulous! Having such a variety of options for dogs and humans to choose from is wonderful. Individual dogs usually have a preference for a certain sport. Think about it. Is your dog a sniffer? A fetcher? A swimmer? A catcher? Pusher or puller?

I live in the Santa Barbara, California area and am able to play with my inquisitive canine all year round. Check out the following list of some of the more popular sports for inquisitive canines. Think of adapting them to the indoors. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find a new pastime for you and your dog.

K9 Nose-work: For the hunter rather than the gatherer. Perfect for nose-y and scent-driven inquisitive canines. Work is play for these suitcase sniffing types. I think it’s safe to say, this is Poncho’s number one sport!

Agility dog_012915
Agility can be adapted to a dog’s size, age, and other factors.

Dog Agility: For the jumper, tunneler, climber, targeter, and balancer. The sport includes a human handler who directs a dog through an obstacle course in a race for time and accuracy. There’s a lot of fun equipment like climbing frames, balance beams and winding tunnels. Agility can be adapted for dogs of all skill levels, ages, and sizes.

(Musical) Canine Freestyle: A contemporary dog sport that combines obedience, tricks, and dancing! (Musical) Canine Freestyle allows for creative interaction between dogs and their humans while strengthening their bond in a fun and artistic way. (This would be my number one activity because I enjoy dancing and I know Poncho would be a willing partner!)

Flyball:  For the more team-player, prey-driven dog. Teams of four dogs race from a start/finish line, over hurdles to a box that releases a tennis ball to be caught after the dog presses the spring-loaded pad, then back to their handlers while carrying the ball.

Cynosport Rally Obedience or Rally-O: Think of it as a formal obedience obstacle course. Dog and handler teams navigate a course with numbered signs indicating different exercises to perform such as Sit-Down-Sit, Straight Figure 8, Send Over Jump, and Recall Over Jump.

Treibball: For the playful herder. A dog must herd and drive large exercise balls into a soccer goal. Great for inquisitive canines who enjoy spending time learning with their human partner.

K-9 Weight Pull: Perfect for any inquisitive canine breed that enjoys pulling. The competitive sport is similar to sledding; dogs pull cars, sleds, and/or wagons.

Dock Jumping/Dock Diving: For water loving pooches! Dogs compete in jumping for distance or height from a dock into a body of water.

So many choices should make it easy to find something appealing. If not, continuing with the basics allows you to strengthen your bond with your dog and provide  mental and physical enrichment for both of you.

Plus it’s just fun! Happy learning!

We’d love to make some new friends. Post snapshots and videos of your favorite Inquisitive Canine on our Facebook page

It’s Valentine’s Day for Dogs, too. Show Your Love with Some Dog Training

The day dedicated to sweethearts is right around the corner. That means you’ll want your inquisitive canine to be feeling the love. Valentine’s Day often means chocolate, and lots of other, candy. Poncho and I want to send a gentle reminder to make sure you’re managing your environment, keeping all of those types of human yummy treats out of your dog’s reach. Yes, safety is top priority for pets – through management of his or her environment – but that doesn’t mean you can’t show your love in a multitude of other ways.

brown dog staring at human
Spending time together is one of the best ways to tell your dog “I love you.”

How about making it a scent-ual Valentine’s Day and setting up a Kibble Hunt? Poncho loves playing this as much as we love setting up the course.

A few tips on setting up Kibble Hunt:

  • Instead of serving his or her food out of a bowl, set up a scavenger course in and around your house.  In the yard or inside your home, or both. If your dog eats kibble, this will be easy! Just place pieces in strategic places around the yard. Or, if it’s an indoor arrangement only, place pieces of kibble around areas of your home. Behind doors, under corners of rugs and pieces of furniture, or wherever your dog likes to explore or is easy to explore. Note: If your dog eats wet food or out of a Kong toy then you can certainly “hide” these as well. Kong toys are convenient to hide around the yard or areas in kitchens. Wet food can be divided  into  smaller containers and hidden in various places.
  • Add a bonus. Although I usually hide Poncho’s regular kibble, I’ll also place a few pieces of his favorite treats. Why not? Makes the game that much more fun! Plus, it’s Valentine’s Day!
  • Set your dog up for success. If Kibble Hunt is a new activity for your dog, or if your dog is more of a runner than a hunter, consider letting he or she watch you set up. Leash and tether your dog in an area where he or she can watch you arrange the course. Then, “let the dogs out” to search and rescue all the goodies. You could also have your dog watch through a window, seeing all the steps you’re taking, in order to assist in the hunt.

Kibble Hunt is an excellent physical and mental stimulation activity for your dog and will help keep him or her occupied when spending time on their own. Providing opportunities for dogs to use their hunting skills helps build confidence. Also, it’s just darn fun! By the way, Kibble Hunt is just one of the many and very fun activities in our Out of the Box Dog Training Game!

What better way to say “I love you” to your inquisitive canine? Wishing you all a very happy and pawsitively rewarding Valentine’s Day.

The Inquisitive Canine Doggie Blog is written by Joan Mayer, a certified professional dog trainer based in Santa Barbara, California. Joan is also a human-canine relationship coach and frequently consults with Poncho, her 10-pound mutt who knows a lot about human and canine behavior.

Joan and Poncho love making new friends. Post snapshots and videos of your favorite Inquisitive Canine on their Facebook page

Does Your Dog Like to Share Their Food and Toys?

When it comes to resources – food, toys, and locations – many animals, dogs included, prefer to keep it all to themselves. Learning to share is just that, a learned behavior. Guarding ones resources, is an innate behavior – and one that is very handy for survival.

Teach Your Dog to Enjoy Alone Time

Dear Poncho,

Our dog Tessa is a wonderful addition to our family. She’s smart, lovable, and very obedient. Our only problem is leaving her alone. She cries, barks, and shreds her bed in the crate. If we leave her in the backyard, she chews at our fences, although eventually she settles down. She has also destroyed my car’s door panels when I’ve left her in there for even short periods of time (with open windows, in the shade, and with water, of course).

We don’t know what to do about her complete agitation when she is away from us, and I don’t have time for long and intense training. Please help!

Thank you,
Cara

Dear Miss Cara,

Sounds like your assessment of Tessa’s behavior is right on track: she’s agitated when left alone, as opposed to being bored or angry. I can totally empathize, because I used to dread spending time alone. Now though, after my folks helped me out, I have the confidence to do so, and actually look forward to it. Sure, it’s great being a mama’s (and daddy’s) boy, but frankly I need a break now and then. Allow me to provide my pooch’s perspective. Continue Reading “Teach Your Dog to Enjoy Alone Time”

Dog Training Basics to Prevent Fido From Being Left Out of the Group

Dear Poncho,

Help! We’ve had family staying with us all weekend, and our dog, Wiley, has had a hard time behaving. At the family’s request, when we go outside, we have to put him inside, in his crate. That’s because if we let him out when we go out to play, he jumps on and nips at us, the extended family, neighbors, the gardener and anyone else stopping by for a visit. When we are inside, Wiley must be sent outside in the yard.

Wiley is part of our family, and I want him to blend in and be able to play with us. When we try to ignore him by turning away, he jumps on our backs and also continues to nip. We just can’t have him doing that, especially to my 85-year-old dad or our 2-year-old granddaughter. We’ve tried lots of praise when he sits and we pet him, but then he jumps and nips. I hope you have some suggestions for us — we’re so frustrated, we’re happy to try anything you suggest!

Ellen (Wiley’s mom)

Dear Miss Ellen,

Sounds like Wiley is living up to his name — skilled and clever at getting what he wants. I’d be happy to offer some tips on how you can help your own inquisitive canine become part of the group, not left out in the cold.

Let’s talk about dogs and a few of the general behavior traits we possess: jumping to greet, having enormous amounts of energy (especially when we’re young or haven’t burned off the excess energy), using our mouths to explore the world, wanting attention (positive or negative), preferring to be around people than alone and always game for a good time.

Hmm, yep, sounds like Wiley is a full-blown canine extraordinaire! My first tip is to understand these characteristics and appreciate Wiley for who he is — a dog who loves people of all ages and wants to spend time with his family.

Continue Reading “Dog Training Basics to Prevent Fido From Being Left Out of the Group”

Before You Adopt a Dog, Preparing for Your New Pooch

Dear Inquisitive (& Expectant) Dog Parents,

If you or someone you know intends on spending the pawliday season giving or receiving the gift of a puppy or adult dog, then yippee and woohoo! As a dog mom, I know how meaningful the human-animal bond is. I’m truly thankful each and day for the relationship my sidekick (Ringo) and I have.

Speaking as a certified professional dog trainer, I can attest that being proactive and planning ahead before bringing a new puppy or adult dog (or any pet, for that matter) into your home, can help ease the transition and reduce stress — for everyone, including the dog. So for those who are in pet-parent-to-be mode, we’re here to assist you in making the transition a little easier by providing a few simple tips to help start you out on the right paw.

Planning to Succeed Leads to Success

Health and Wellness:  Similar to human health practices, prevention is key! So we encourage you to schedule a wellness exam for your dog, to be sure he or she has been evaluated, and is receiving all they need to maintain good health. This goes double if you have zero health history about your dog. If you feel your dog doesn’t need a full exam, ask if you can bring your dog in just to say hi, meet the staff and get a treat. This will leave a nice impression the next time your dog has an appointment (FYI, this goes for any dog, not just newbies).

The Right Resources: If you’re in the market for a groomer, dog training services, dog walker, petsitter or daycare facility, you’ll want to start investigating for names and places sooner than later.

For day-to-day needs, look to local pet supply stores, garage sales, thrift stores, friends cleaning out their garages (checking expiration dates on products) and, of course, the Internet. When hiring someone who provides such services, an Internet search, along with word of mouth from friends and neighbors, is a great way to begin your hunt. As for those you’d hire, we feel interviewing two or three is a sensible approach. If possible, have your dog meet each provider as well, since your dog is the one who’ll be spending the most time with the person. You’ll also want to vet the person you intend to hire. Many pet-related industries are unregulated, so check for credentials, not just a business license.

Start with the Basics. There are thousands of pet products on the market nowadays. For sure you’ll need a collar with ID, as well as food, bowls, a leash, and a comfortable all-purpose dog harness. Depending where you live, a license might be required as well. Check with your county animal services department. Microchips are optional, but quite handy; ask your vet for information regarding the insertion of a chip. If your dog came with a chip, the facility or person you got your dog from should be able to provide you with what you’ll need in order to update the contact information.

When it comes to toys, beds, treats, and games you can play with your dog, we suggest you test out a few you think your dog might like, at least until you get to know his or her preferences. Then you can go nuts and start spoiling them silly. (Guilty!)

Social Director Extraordinaire: Depending upon the age, breed, temperament, and likes and dislikes of your dog, you’ll want to plan activities that enrich your dog’s life — both physically and mentally. The following is a list of things you can do with your dog (most all are budget-friendly):

  • Neighborhood walks for fun and to show your dog his or her new neighborhood. Until your dog learns to stay with you and has a good recall, staying on leash is highly recommended. (Plus, it might be the law). Bring along treats to reward behaviors you like, and when introducing your dog to new people and other dogs.
  • Field trips to places you frequent. Many dogs love car rides and running errands. Make sure your dog is kept safe while going for rides. Seat belts and car seats are easy to find, inexpensive and help protect your dog from injury.
  • Meet-and-greets with friends and neighbors. Allow your dog to set the pace as to how quickly he or she wants to socialize. It might be overwhelming with all the new changes, so be patient.
  • Dog training classes. No matter your dog’s age or skill level, classes with an emphasis on manners or sports are enjoyable activities for having fun, learning new skills and enhancing your bond.
  • Yard play. Playing games in your own home and yard — fetch, tug, hide ‘n’ seek, scavenger hunts, K9 Nose Work games or just chillin’ with each other and giving belly rubs — is quality time and enjoyable for everyone, and often the best part of the day.

Huddle Up: No matter how many people will be caring for your dog, delegate responsibilities and how they’ll fit into your current schedule.  Feeding, walking and exercise, potty outings, clean-up, vet appointments, grooming, and training are just a few general responsibilities that make up your dog’s daily agenda. Make sure everyone knows the routine, his or her list of duties and that maintaining consistency is essential to your dog adapting and learning what you want.

Environmental Management: No matter the age of your new dog, he or she will need to learn about, and settle in to, your environment. Puppies will require additional guidance on house-training, which includes rewarding desired behavior, tighter management and observation. Older dogs still need to be taught where the bathroom is and get rewarded for using it. For housetraining help, check out this post highlighting some useful tips.

Puppy- and dog -proofing your home will also set your dog up for making better choices. Take the time to section off off-limits areas,  safely putting away those things you don’t want your dog to get to (lead your dog not into temptation, and not into danger). As you learn more about each other, you can slowly increase your dog’s boundaries, allowing more freedom.

Sleeping arrangements: You’ll need to decide where your dog is and isn’t allowed to sleep. Will your dog slumber in his or her own bed? Crate? Your bed? Floor? Couch? There’s no right or wrong answer. Just make sure you’ve approved it, it’s safe and you’re able to monitor your pooch — at least initially, until you know his or her sleeping patterns.

Pet siblings: If this is a second dog or second pet, you’ll need to take the necessary steps to introduce your new dog to the seasoned residents. Allow each of them to set the pace on how fast they want to establish a relationship. Keep the vibe positive and easygoing, while at the same time safe. Read more tips on introducing a new dog to a resident dog.

Tracking down resources, gathering supplies, delegating responsibilities and establishing a dog-friendly environment are key components in setting you and your new canine companion up for success. We encourage new pooch parents to begin developing a plan of action to help your dog feel welcomed! By doing this, you’ll make the adjustment easy on everyone, which leaves more time for fun and games (and belly rubs).

Happy Pawlidays
On behalf of Ringo, myself and The Inquisitive Canine team, we wish you and your family a joyous and pawsitively reinforcing holiday season. Your readership is the ultimate gift, and we thank you for being part of our family. (Want to see the official Mayer Family holiday photo? Check out our Inquisitive Canine Facebook page where we’ll be unveiling it mid-December).