I often am told that people simply do not have time to practice with their dogs. While setting aside time to spend one on one with your dog is ideal, I completely understand that sometimes life gets busy. We are, after all, human. Even though life is full of demands, your dog still needs repetition and consistency in order to develop the behaviors that you want in your canine companion. Most people that I work with, do not realize that nearly every second spent with their dog, whether set aside or not, is time spent training. Why not integrate your dog training practice into your daily routines so that you can make the most of your time and bond with your dog? There are lots of ways to do it. Here are just a few:
SIT and DOWN: Sit and down commands should be practiced whenever you need your dog to stop moving and freeze into position. Practice down and sit stays while you answer the door, read a magazine, or brush your teeth. Whenever your dog is moving around and you want them to stop, replace the negative behavior with a positive one. Utilize those commercial breaks! You will thank me later.
PLACE: Working on Place is easily to accomplish while you watch television, eat dinner or check your email! Start with short place challenges during commercial breaks and then when your dog gets better at it, extend out to actual show segments. Put them on place while you start reading your email, see how many you can get through before your dog tries to get up! While snuggling with your dog during your downtime is often a relaxing time for many owners, this is a way to get in your practice so that when guests come, they can be just as relaxed. Don’t forget, if you don’t practice, your dog is not going to remember what to do when you need it to. Be consistent!
WAITING: Even the simple act of going through a doorway is a great opportunities for integrated practice. Have your dog do a sit/stay or a down/stay and wait at doorways. You should always go through first. Have them sit/stay or down/stay while you put down their food. Release them from their stays with a “you’re through”. This way they understand that you own the food and they are motivated to listen!
Can you think of a way to integrate your dog training practice into your everyday life? Let me know! I’d love to read your ideas.
Are you a new graduate or have you missed out on the group class portion of your program? Our group classes offer a great opportunity to refresh your training, socialize your dog with other well mannered canines, and to be around other people who understand both dogs and the training process. So if you decide to attend, what should you bring with you to class? What should you expect to happen? How should you prepare? What if you are a group class veteran? How can YOU get the most out of class?
When you are headed to group class, here is a list of items that you should bring:
When you arrive at the meeting place, you will find a group of people with their dogs. These will be dogs of all sizes, who have gone through a variety of training levels. Some of them will be veterans of group class, others will be new, just like you! A trainer will arrive to guide the group through a series of exercises. Control walk, sit, down, stay, heel, and even come will be used in a variety of challenges. You will learn how to work your dog in an alternative environment and with distractions (the other dogs and their owners). There will be a five minute break in the middle of the class to offer the dogs a moment to relax, owners to interact, water to be consumed, and potty breaks to be taken.
You should know that many dogs get excited around the other dogs, and will be more challenging to work with than normal. Remember that this is the same for all dog owners, especially when they start out, and that everyone is paying more attention to their own dog and their own experience than to you. These classes are supposed to be fun and challenging, so try to keep a positive attitude and do not take yourself or your dog too seriously. These are learning experiences. Mistakes are required for progress!
Some dogs that attend have some social issues either with other dogs or other people and sometimes both. So do not allow your friendly pet to run up to other dogs without asking first. When the group session begins, the trainer will point out these circumstances. It is always a good idea to keep a leash distance between your dog and the others there.
What if you have attended group classes in the past, and you don’t feel as though either of you are being challenged anymore? You should definitely still attend group classes! Tell the trainer that you are looking for additional challenges, and they will offer you different ideas of how to work both your and your dogs skills to a higher level. Here are a few ideas:
Can your dog keep up? You may even find that there are multiple veterans in the class that can work with you to offer a greater challenge in a separate class, or through trainer-guided challenges. These classes are for YOU, be sure that if there is something that you want to work on or something you’d like to see, tell the trainer. We need to know what you are looking for to offer you the best service.
Ask about our advanced small group classes for an even greater challenge! Remember, as veterans with dogs who are successful in group class situations, you are one of the best motivators we have for the people who are new to class. Encourage people. Tell them your stories. Your ability to guide your dog through class, even without the elevated challenges, can be enough to motivate others to work harder with their dogs. Help them to achieve the same levels of success and companionship that your family enjoys!
The American Kennel Club offers a Canine Good Citizen program designed to measure your dog’s social manners out in public with other dogs and humans. The testing evaluates several things your dog has been trained for, such as walking on a loose leash, meet and greets with dogs and people, basic commands, distraction work, separation with a trusted person and grooming. Upon passing the test, the American Kennel Club issues a certification formally acknowledging him as a Canine Good Citizen. The test is required by most therapy dog programs, and is a great foundation if you are interested in doing this type of work with your dog. The ten items on the Canine Good Citizen test are:
Make sure your dog can accomplish the objectives not only in your home, but also in different environments with new distractions. Group Classes are the perfect place for this. In fact, let me know you are working towards this goal and I will specifically help you with some of the requirements. If your dog performs well at group class, that is a great first step in earning the certificate.
I am a certified Canine Good Citizen tester and would be happy to help you and your dog reach this goal. Please contact me for more information if you are interested in having your dog become a Canine Good Citizen.
For all rules and regulations, visit The AKC Site.
The “Leave It” command can help prevent your dog from consuming something dangerous if taught correctly. Dogs are conditioned pretty early on that things on the ground are fair game. Do your dog and yourself a favor and take some time to teach your dog this life saving command.
Of course, there are several ways to teach this command, so if your dog is not getting it with this method, there is always a different way.
© 2013 Well Mannered Dog Training Charleston, SC