Training Tips

Training is really important for you and your pet. I will go through some really basic general training tips and some other training tips my family and I have been practicing with our dogs after the poison incident. Make sure to keep your pet’s favorite snacks’ handy! Any dog, any breed, any age can learn just about anything, even pronouncing words! You just have to spend a lot of time, practice and have a really good snack that your dog loves. Oh and of course love your dog =F Some of our techniques:

House breaking your dog can be very difficult; there are many methods of teaching your pet to learn to go outside instead of inside. When they urinate (#1) inside or in a ‘no no’ zone, have them smell it (you may have to help your pup with this step by gently pushing their head and directing their nose to the affected area.  The trick is keeping them there as they generally do not like it, they will wiggle and struggle but hang tight for a good minute or so and use a reinforcement word such as “NO” or “BAD,” or whatever word you want to use.  This will be your go to word when your dog does something bad from now, or in the future. Then you immediately take your dog outside in which they will usually finish.  Use your positive reinforcement word such as good boy or good girl and then give them a treat once they are complete. If you also want your pet to only have their biological functions in one area, you have to spend a bit more time (boy does this pay off at the end) and walk your pet to the designated bio area and let them do their business there, then when they are done give them a snack and remove them from the area.  A leash may be required to guide them.  After doing this a few times, they will learn that is where they go to the bathroom and then when you have guests or are playing in the back yard you can avoid stepping in #2!

You can also give a very light tap on the dogs nose, not hard enough to hurt your pet, just as soft as one would hold fresh bread trying not to smush it =) and use your reinforcement word.

Also another very good general technique is to poke your dog just as soft as the bread example above. Tap around the head/neck/body and as you are doing it make a noise, this will break the dogs attention and allow him/her to focus on your commands, (some people also use a whistle or clicker for a similar effect).

Once you and your pet learn the basic commands such as sit, stay, lay down, paw/high five, you can excel to some harder ones such as roll over (this was incredibly difficult to learn for my dogs), speak (to bark), and even to say “I LOVE YOU.” One has to be very patient and persistent; when you are teaching your dogs to do a trick, teaching them a command, and teaching them rules – when they get it right give them a small piece of a treat. You might even be able to use your dog’s regular dry food, carrots, or plain cheerios as using big snacks may end up being costly.

To get your dog to speak on command, you have to first get him/her to bark when you are playing / engaging them. Keep treats on you when you are playing and when your dog finally barks, say speak immediately after they bark and give them the treat immediately, then the good boy/girl.  For my dogs to get them to speak I would rile them up and play little bit rough with them and then when they would bark I did the above. Then once they spoke on command, instead of telling them to speak, I told them “say I love you” and I would pronounce it slow, and eventually they got it! It takes a long time, but it is very possible. Blue still has trouble saying “I love you.”

Probably one of the most helpful tips that I can give and this one also applies to children – speak to your dog as if you were speaking to an educated adult.  Do not baby talk your loved ones as this is detrimental to their development.  Do not make words sound cuter, do not use slang, speak to them as you would speak in a professional environment. Dogs are extremely smart, there is no point in dumbing them down.  A smarter friend will make it easier as you become closer.  Communicating with your dog is the key to success in raising a wonderful dog.  You can teach them advanced tricks just like you see on TV or on Animal Planet.  Never be closed minded, do not think your dog can not accomplish a task – take the time to work with them and communicate effectively and love your dog.

Another important tip is that dogs ‘live in the moment.’ What that means is they live in the now and not in the later.  Example; (especially at the early stages of training [puppy if you can – if you are rescuing an older dog then they are still puppies =F and you can teach them as well]) If your dog urinates inside you need to catch them in the act or shortly after and then use the steps I listed above.  If you do it 10 minutes later they will most likely have no idea why you are scolding them, they may show signs of awareness but you are scolding them they do not know why – they are good boys and girls!  Every dog is different but generally dogs are in this state.  An example to help explain – when you leave your house and leave your dog alone, whether loose, crated, tied up, when you get back they are extremely excited when you get back.  To them you have been gone forever and you may have only been gone for 10 minutes.  This does not mean they do not understand time, but their grasp of time is just different.  Think of a child before understanding the concept of time.  An example of dogs and time: I have successfully taught my dogs 5 minutes and 10 minutes.  If I have to take them out I let them out and say 5 minutes – I would wait 5 minutes and bring them in whether they wanted to or not. Do this enough times (no pun intended) and they will learn 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes my dogs wait by the door to come in.  The next step for me was 10 minutes, you can go as far as you want.

After my dogs poison incident, my dog Blue that was still a puppy at the time was not coming when we called him and he ended up devouring the poison. A dog must listen to its master; for one Blue ate the poison, your pet could run into the street, chase a squirrel, try to bite, etc…

To teach your dog to come when called or to generally listen (again always carry treats on you): if they do not listen, remove them from the area and either crate them if they have one to sleep in, leash them in a secluded area, put them in a room by themselves, or place them where ever their designated “timeout” area is – if they do not have one, find a spot and create it. Leave them punished for a few minutes, let them go and then rinse repeat when they do not listen and as puppy’s or learner permit rescues they will mess up =F They will learn, dogs are smart and are very social and want to be near you, so separating them from their master is a big punishment.

One rule we have taught and for a while we were struggling with is when there is food on the floor or when food drops on the floor, for them not to go scavenger mode and scurry for it. This is important for many obvious reasons, such as when chocolate or some other harmful substance is dropped. To accomplish this, purposely drop one of their treats on floor and when they go for it, use your go to word/poke-n-noise or both techniques to get their attention off it. Rinse repeat and that is it. I cannot stress this one enough. It is a very easy one to teach – what this also reiterates is that you are in control of the food. Which means they do not go looking for food when you are asleep in the garbage, table, counters, strangers, backyard, parks, etc… Your hand or a hand provides them food, not the floor, ground, or other means of scavenging.

Hot Sauce is one of the greatest tools we have used to train our dogs. They do not like the sour/spicy taste. I keep a bottle of hot sauce handy for mainly garbage scouring prevention. When my family devours a bottle of hot sauce, instead of washing it out and throwing it in the recycling box, I water it down and keep it by the trash. Anytime we throw away something that can harm our dogs; (chocolate, bones, etc…) we squirt it in the garbage. Most of the times our dogs are always around us and usually watch us throw away goodies, so we pour hot sauce in front of them, then make em smell it, and they know after that to not mess with it.  Any hot sauce will work, the spicier the better, I use Tabasco and Red Hot as they are my favorites. Make sure you select a hot sauce that does not contain onion or garlic or any other items listed here. If your pup happens to like hot sauce, then go with a bolder sauce like a habanero sauce, I have not encountered an animal besides myself who likes that – so if your dog does let me know and send me a pic =F