Milo's Dog Training

Dog training in Hampshire, Surrey & Berkshire


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How to Teach Your Dog to Sit or Lie Down and Wait in 10 Steps

It’s easy to teach one’s dog to sit on demand, because it is something that dogs tend to do naturally. Teaching your dog to sit and wait until you release him is another matter. This trick takes some patience, time and quite a few tricks. I often hear people telling their dogs to wait or to stay, assuming that this will make the dog stay in place. However, unless you specifically taught your dog to stay in position (sitting or lying down, or in any other position), your dog won’t know that he has to stay until released. Let’s fix it! Teaching the dog to stay is about teaching him self-control, which is also helpful for dogs having issues with excitability, meeting visitors etc.

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Lead Reactive Dogs – 4: Triggers.

This is the last part of the series on lead aggression. Please read parts 1, 2 & 3 first.

Think about a recent situation which involved you seeing another owner walking towards you and your dog. What was your reaction? Did you hold your breath for a moment? Maybe you tightened your grip on the lead? Probably, you even pulled the lead a bit or started talking to your dog. Chances are, you did all three and something else, if you were walking a dog that is reactive on lead. The behaviours are not themselves a problem. The issues arise, when your dog learns to associate them with other dogs approaching him. After that you are trapped in a vicious cycle:

In addition to your behaviour and body language, there are other possible triggers for your dog. A common trigger is a certain type of dogs. For example, your dog has been attacked by a large white dog and will display aggression towards similar looking dogs. Another possible trigger is a certain place. For example, your dog may only react to other dogs on a narrow pathway or on a certain street corner.

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First Step to Stopping Your Dog Pulling On The Lead

Earlier this week I wrote about common mistakes that owners make when using a leash.  Avoiding these mistakes will make your dog less likely to pull on his leash and will help to reduce existing leash pulling.  Puppies are especially prone to pulling, because of their high energy and curiosity.  Moreover, when a puppy is small and cannot pull hard enough to bother anyone, his leash pulling is more likely to be neglected.  Only later, when the dog becomes stronger and heavier, the owners usually ask for help.

So now that we know what not to do, let’s talk about teaching the dog not to pull the leash.  One of the best techniques is described in “My Dog Pulls, What Do I Do?” by Turid Rugaas.  I tend to stick to this method, because it can be modified for each individual case and works reliably.  The technique is built on the discovery approach.  I strongly suggest that you read this book, if your dog is pulling a lot.  I will outline my version of this technique.

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Relaxation for dogs

Image from Blinky Dog

Have you ever envied those people in the pub, whose dogs just lie under the table calmly? It can be you in just a couple of weeks. Today I would like to share an ingenious technique. I learned it from my mentor, while interning at Whole Dog Training. The exercise will teach your dog to relax and to calm down, while waiting by your side.

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The Foundation: “Look at me”

 

Let’s continue with the foundation series. We have been working on the dog training basics and tried exercises that teach dogs the basic behaviours needed for more advanced training:

1. “Touch” (also called targeting), which teaches the dog to follow owner’s hand

2. “Eye contact”, which teaches the dog to focus on the owner instead of a distraction

The last foundation exercise is “Look at me”. It comes handy, when you need to get the dog’s attention quickly and when teaching a dog to walk on a leash without pulling. Essentially, it is a proactive variation of “Eye contact”: you don’t wait till the dog looks at you, but rather teach it to turn to you on a cue. You can use any sound, that is loud enough to use outdoors. I prefer to use a kiss sound, some people whistle or click their tongue. As usual, start in a quiet environment and gradually increase the amount of distractions.

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The Foundation: “Eye contact”

You may have heard that you are not supposed to look a dog directly in the eyes as it can be dangerous and provokes aggression. Indeed, dogs tend to avoid direct eye contact, when signaling peaceful intention. A dog staring in the eyes of another dog is most likely trying to challenge it. So, it is true: direct eye contact can be a sign of not so friendly mood. However, I am sure that your dog(s) often look you in the eyes for the same purpose people do: questioning, demanding attention or just keeping in contact. I think they learn it from us and are not as uncomfortable with eye contact as some sources lead you to believe.

So, why is eye contact important? First, it is the primary way for us, humans, to know that we have the dog’s attention. Some dog’s are good listeners, but Milo appears to only be able to use one sense at a time, and hearing is not his favourite. Second, it allows your dog to improve its concentration abilities. Finally, teaching the dog to make eye contact, when it sees a distraction (i.e., other dogs) or when in doubt, ensures that you will have your dog’s attention at critical moments. Today I will share one of the exercises that teach your dog to make eye contact.

Exercise #3: “Eye contact”

This exercise will teach your dog to focus on you instead of a distraction. If your dog is food motivated, use treats. If a ball is more tempting, then use a ball or a toy as a distraction.

1. Have a clicker in one hand and a few treats (or a ball) in another.

2. Show the treats to the dog. You can let it smell it or move your hand in front of the dog’s nose, teasing.

3. Move your hand slightly away from the dog, so the dog can’t reach it, but can still see and smell the treats.

4. Look at the dog and wait until it looks at you. Click and treat. Initially, you can reward the dog for just looking away from the distraction. The goal is to gradually bring the dog to make eye contact with you, when the distraction is present.

5. Once your dog starts making eye contact consistently, you can increase difficulty by changing hands, moving the distraction, bringing treats closer to the dog etc.

This exercise serves as a foundation for work with certain behavioral problems in dogs. For example, the same idea can be applied to treating reactive dogs (dogs who overreact to certain stimuli). In that case, you can teach your dog to look at you, when it sees other dogs, people or other things to which the dog may overreact.


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The Foundation: “Touch”

A dog’s ability to focus on the owner/handler is the foundation of successful dog training process. The dog should be able to keep its attention on you and must always expect guidance from you. This week we will be practicing a few simple exercises designed to teach the dog to focus on you and to improve your clicker training skills. In addition, it will accustom you and your dog to the regular dog training sessions. For those of you, who are not yet familiar with clicker training, I will outline the basics tomorrow. In the meantime, I will suggest modifications to the dog training exercises, that will allow you and your dog to benefit from dog training regardless of whether you use a clicker or not.
Before you begin, make sure you have enough treats, a clicker (optional) and as little distraction as possible around you. It is always better to start training at home.

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