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Dogs Chasing Squirrels

Dogs Chasing Squirrels: A Walking Nightmare for Some

It seems the problem of dogs chasing squirrels is aggravating to more dog owners than you would expect.

Here are owner’s concerns:

  • squirrel chasing ruining a perfectly good walk
  • arms out of sockets 
  • banged up knees from falls

 

Then the Obvious Question, “How Do I Stop It?”

Dogs Chasing Squirrels

Stopping it takes training and practice. You should start sooner than later because it can be a serious problem especially if your dog has a particularly high prey drive.

It’s not uncommon to see this squirrel issue progress to other fast-moving things like animals (cats in particular) cars, bikes, kids on skateboards and joggers – just to name a few.

It can also become quite addictive as your dog’s body releases chemicals while in the chase mode, including adrenaline.

 

Prevention Gets Down to Training

 

I know what you’re thinking! Loose leash walking and dogs chasing squirrels just don’t go together. Or, could they?

What will it take to create pleasant walks on a loose leash once again, even around squirrels?

It all gets down to training your dog. But what exactly does this include? For one thing your dog must understand to listen to you when on walks.

It should include a “Leave it!” command which should mean “stop what you are doing and make eye contact with me.”

At this point I would say that “timing is everything.”

You must say “Leave it!” right when your dog first notices the squirrel and before he gives chase. This takes practice and keen observation of your dog’s body language.

Next should be a redirect to another command like “Sit!” as you praise and a treat. Immediately back up a few steps using a treat to lure your dog to you (on your leash) as you say, “Come!” Follow that with another sit. Repeat this exercise. Praise and treat each time for a job well done. Continue on with your walk.

It’s important to understand that the “Leave it!” command should be worked on with your dog in the house first to teach him what it means.

This should be followed by proofing your dog in the back yard around light distractions before you actually go on your walk. Finally work your dog at a distance around squirrels where you get compliance to “Leave it!” with your dog. Gradually close the distance.

Basic Foundation Work Is Critical

 

It goes without saying that you must have a relationship with your dog where your dog looks to you for guidance on what to do INSTEAD of what he’s doing.   If it’s not, then you must start with foundation work before you can successfully start your squirrel diversion training.

Let’s take a look at needed foundation work.

Your dog should already be doing sits and downs for everything in the home; food, access to furniture, toys and affection. This teaches him to listen to his pack leader, as you are in charge. This develops better listening skills in the real world on walks.

You should be doing ongoing scheduled obedience training 3 times daily for just 2 minutes. This would include rapid fire sits and downs.

You could also incorporate the come command between two family members so the sequence is “Come! Sit! Down! This could be done back and forth for 2 minutes.

This kind of training will begin to foster discipline for your squirrel diversion training on walks.

Remember, once your foundation work is done inside, move to the back yard for distraction work. Follow that with real world training on walks.

 

Managing Your Dog’s Energy

 

One way to manage your dog’s energy is to engage your dog in a game of fetch. This burns energy in a constructive activity that can be controlled. Make sure your dog sits before you throw the ball.

As your dog gets better, require a sit-stay, throw the ball then release your dog to fetch the ball. Teaching your dog to sit-stay and watch the ball in action, can give you better control on your walks when squirrels appear.

Practicing the come command between family members is another way to manage your dog’s energy. You just have to be consistent in doing it every day.

If before you walk your dog, you play fetch or burn energy with the come command, he’ll have less energy for the squirrels and you may find he listens better.

Bottom line is that it does take time to train your dog and manage his energy. And while you’re managing his energy, don’t let your dog run loose and practice bad habits you are trying to stop.

By using positive dog training methods you develop an impressive display of training and management skills that will help you in all aspects of your life with your dog.

Thanks for letting me share my dog training knowledge with you. Don’t be a stranger. Feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear about your squirrel chasing dog.

Remember: “Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog

Jim Burwell, Houston dog trainer for 25+ years, serving over 10,000 clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad. Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.

Video Review: Bossy dog no longer runs the home

 

Ted was a pretty bossy dog with absolutely no manners

He really had his owner at his beck and call. With structure and routine Ted has become a very well mannered dog.

bossydog2

 

Ted was a pretty bossy dog.  He decided it was his job to run the house and have his owners do whatever Ted wanted.  Ted just needed some structure and to understand that he needed to ask for what he wanted, not demand it.  The family is much happier and found it to be easy, stress free, not harsh at all to help Ted learn some doggie manners. It really got down to teach Ted manners. This is not much different than teaching your child how to behave. It’s actually easier because in dog training your dog only has about 6 things that he truly values. When you use those 6 things and have you dog basically say “may I please” then your dog becomes well mannered. Dog training is simply understanding how to take what comes naturally to your dog and use that to teach him how to live in a human world. Hope you enjoy the video.

Bad Dog Behavior

Dog Behavior: Dog Training Can Be as Easy as Just Feeding Your Dog

You know there is nothing more irritating and frustrating than unwanted dog behavior.

Dealing with inappropriate dog behavior like jumping is bad enough when you’re the one being jumped on by friends’ dogs. But, that same bad dog behavior is even worse, when it’s your own dog constantly jumping on or nudging your house guest.  Talk about embarrassing!

Bad Dog Behavior

It’s time to do some dog training.

It’s time to train your dog to do something other than jump and nudge your house guest. It sounds like a lot of work, right? Well, it’s not!

Remember, I’ve always said that dog training doesn’t take as much of a commitment of time as it does consistency and repetition.

What If 

What if I told you that teaching more acceptable behaviors like not jumping or not nudging could be as easy as feeding your dog?

Do I have your attention? I thought so. Let me explain the art of “feed training.”

Let’s say that you feed your dog 1 ½ cups of dog food twice daily. Your dog gets breakfast before you go to work and dinner when you get home from work. He does a quick sit before his face hits the bowl.

I’m suggesting that you redistribute part of or all his evening meal one kibble at a time.

Pick a behavior you like

Let’s say that your preferred behavior with house guests would be for him to go to his dog bed. So, let’s take my “kibble at a time” activity and every evening you put half or all of his evening meal in a zip lock bag so you’re simply distributing it to him differently.

Hang with me, here’s what I’d do.

As you are relaxing in front of the television, begin to toss a piece of kibble on his dog bed which is positioned close to where you are seated. When he goes to get it, praise him the second his foot touches the bed and just before he gets the treat.

Repeat this until your dog figures out that being on his dog bed is a good thing. Dogs do what works.

But You Have To Ignore the Unwanted Behavior

Ignoring your dog’s nudging you helps him to understand that the bed is the better deal, because the bed is where the reward is.

In fact, to really make this work for you in practice, do these two things to control the nudging:

1. Position yourself in a single cushion chair so that you can cross your legs (ankle on knee) and better block your dog’s access to you.
2. DO NOT look at, talk to or touch your dog. This is difficult for most dog owners because of our tendency to nurture.

As he walks away from you (and he will) toss a kibble on his bed and as he steps onto his bed, click/praise right before he gets the treat.

When you can anticipate each time he will go to his bed, add a command like, “Place” or “Go to your bed.” Pretty soon you will have the behavior you want.

Next, add house guests and practice more so that he gets really good at his new behavior.

Train your dog every evening in this way. He will get the same amount of food he normally would get just a kibble at a time.

Don’t forget, this new practice of “feed training” can work on everything. Use his food to praise/treat being quiet. If you go to your office room to work on your computer and he follows and lies down by your side, praise/treat for doing that.

Occasionally praise/treat him with his food for that same good dog behavior as he stays there quietly by your side.

As you begin training better behaviors in your dog, just make a list of all the things he does that you like so that you can remember to praise/treat his good behavior.

It’s a different way of looking at training because it is not structured training sessions.

It’s an ongoing barrage of earning the food he would normally gobble up in 60 seconds but stretched out over the course of the evening.

Try and do this every evening – weekends included. If you have to skip an evening, he gets his kibble in his bowl that night. Resume the next night.

It’s actually a lot of fun for both you and your dog!

If you are used to feeding two meals and struggling with working in structured training sessions, try this informal approach of reward for good behavior as you see your dog doing them. He will do them more often the more consistent you are with rewarding him.

I know old habits are hard to break. You’re in the habit of reinforcing behavior (he nudges–you pet) because it feels good. Break the old habit and don’t be afraid to try a new approach. You have nothing to loose and everything to gain for you and your dog.

Thanks for letting me share my dog training tips with you. I truly hope you got some great ideas and hope for helping your dog.

Please come over to my Facebook page  to let me know how this article impacted you.  Are you looking at training a little differently?

Remember: “Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”

Jim Burwell, Houston dog trainer for 25+ years, serving 8700+ clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad. Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.

His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is the culmination of these years of training into an easy, step-by-step process so that your dog understands what you expect of him, you empower him to be able to give you the behavior you want and you empower him to be successful at living in a human home.

Obedience Training Value

Obedience Training Has No Practical Value Unless Used Every Day

Getting any dog, even under ideal conditions, does not guarantee a well-adjusted dog. Most new puppy or dog owners take a group obedience training class and figure – done!

But it takes more than just obedience training. Here’s what one such owner had to say about her newly acquired adolescent terrier mix just after finishing a group class.

“My dog is a little too excited all the time He does not follow commands and seems to have a mind of his own when I want him to pay attention to me. Often I just feel like yelling at him or I tell him to do the same thing over and over again. It doesn’t work. Everything seems so complicated and overwhelming.”

Dogs will not be changed into great dogs with a single group obedience training class. Dogs can learn to sit, down and come if taught. But, unless you actively put these commands to use in your home every day in practical situations, it will have little every day value.

You begin to gain real every day value when you actively work your dog daily to sit for greetings, sit to eat, sit for affection, and sit to go out to pee or come in from the back yard.

And of course it helps if everyone is on the same page in your home. In other words, when your dog turns to interact with anyone else in the family he should be required to at least do a sit.

Sitting begins to set a strong foundation of expectations or rules to follow. This helps your dog to look to you for direction on his behavior instead of making decisions “like a dog”. If you practice setting simple rules for your dog you will be amazed at the “long term” results.

Obedience Training Has No Practical Value Unless Used Every Day

Don’t expect over night success

Even though you want it, your dog will not be transformed over night. He will need constant daily reminders and work.

Don’t allow your dog to be pushy. What do I mean by this? If your dog tries to run out the door ahead of you, that’s pushy. If, when following you around the house, your dog anticipates your destination and darts ahead of you, that’s pushy.

Instead of allowing pushy, promote politeness. Teach sit at the door. Proceed through the door and release your dog to follow you. The same would apply to stairs. Teach your dog to sit or wait at the top or bottom of the stairs until you get up or down. Then release your dog to follow.

While you can see very encouraging results in days or a week of training, do not get over-confident. Remember to work your dog around natural distractions that are relevant to your every day lifestyle. It will take approximately 4-6 weeks of daily work around distractions for your dog to “get it.” Also, to better help you achieve a polite dog that everyone wants around all the time consider using your leash in the house to reinforce the behaviors you want from your dog.

For example, if your dog is always jumping on the couch and into your personal space “without” being invited, teach “settle” by your feet on the floor in front of the couch. After 5 minutes of “settle” ask for a sit and then invite your dog up next to you.

Teaching this “settle” command to your dog is probably best accomplished on leash for optimum results. If done correctly and consistently the results will be nothing short of amazing.

“Settle”

Dogs that jump on me when I enter someone’s home are trying to get my attention.

I teach the owner to leash the dog and allow him to sniff-greet through a 2” crack in the door (door not opened all the way to greet.) This is followed by a sit off to the side and a “settle” while you are talking with your guest in your family room. Give your pup a stuffed Kong toy if necessary to redirect his well-intended attention away from your guest.

The bottom line

When you experience what you perceive as “bad” behavior the reality is, it is usually just normal dog behavior. It just doesn’t match up with how you think your dog should act.

As you begin looking for strategies and solutions that work, straight-forward, simple to understand concepts and principles of obedience training will be easy to implement.

Being consistent with obedience training every day in every way may be more challenging but it begins to provide you with every day practical value. Obedience training is something your dog will carry with him the rest of his life and make you proud.

Thanks for letting me share my dog training knowledge with you. I truly hope you found answers and hope for helping your dog. Don’t be a stranger. I’d love to hear what you think.

Please come over to my Facebook page to let me know how this article helped you and the way you think about training your dog. Are you looking at it a little differently? Remember:

“Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”

Jim Burwell, professional dog trainer for 25+ years, serving 8700+ clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad. Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.

His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is the culmination of these years of training into an easy, step-by-step process so that your dog understands what you expect of him, you empower him to be able to give you the behavior you want and you empower him to be successful at living in a human home.

 

Walking The Dog is a Nightmare

“Walking the dog is a nightmare!” He pulls like a freight train and when we finally get into a nice rhythm he’ll put on the brakes and smell everything and I mean everything!

I’m exhausted by the time we get back home and we still don’t get enough exercise. I’ve definitely heard that before.

Let’s look at your dog’s behavior just before you take him for a walk:

He gets very hyper when you get the leash out.
It takes a lot of work to get him to calm down just so you can leash him up before you even start the walk.
You’re tired and you haven’t even gotten outside yet.

Do you also feel that he has no good manners, little regard for rules, and knows little to no obedience commands?

Not being able to enjoy your out of control dog definitely puts a damper on all the cool stuff you could be doing with him that you both would enjoy. And, feeling like you can’t control your dog in public is, well, embarrassing.

If this is the case you should probably take a look at your relationship with your dog inside your home before we talk about controlling your dog outside when you walk the dog.

Ready to do that?

 

Walking The Dog

 

How does a walking nightmare start to begin with?

More than likely your dog hasn’t had enough structure. Here’s what I mean. Structure is simply rules that are clearly and consistently put into place that begin to set expectations for your dog. You should require that he should sit for his meals and sit for any petting he gets from any family member – just to name a few.

Not having nearly enough required structure inside begins to confirm his thinking about your relevance outside on a walk. The message you have sent inside now translates to him taking charge and doing exactly what he wants on the walk as well. You’re just that 2-legged critter at the other end of the leash slowing him down.

Desensitize your dog to “walking cues.”

Desensitizing your dog to walking cues is easy.

If you do this consistently, you’ll find that it will begin to “set the tone” for walking.

This is what you do when you get ready for a walk.

If the first thing you do when you prepare for a walk is to go to the place where you keep the leash, go there multiple times. BUT, don’t pick up the leash, just simply return to your seat and do something else.

It helps if this is done around walking time. Repeat this exercise until your dog no longer gets excited about you going over to where you keep the leash. Got that?

Now, your next step is to repeat this exercise but this time pick up your leash, put it back down and then return to your seat and do something else. Repeat this exercise until your dog no longer gets excited about you going over and picking up your leash. Now, you’ve really got him wondering!

Now I suppose you might be thinking, “Why don’t I just teach him to do a sit/stay while I put the leash on him? Why make all the trips to the leash?” You could teach a sit stay but think about this:

If your dog is acting out as much as I have described, he doesn’t have any patience and he’s pushy. He wants things right now and that’s probably true with more things in his life than a walk.

A more important lesson is teaching patience, tolerance and politeness. He needs to learn that patience and politeness leads to doing fun things with you – like a walk.

Once he learns this important life-lesson from you as you desensitize him to you getting the leash, you then begin working on the sit/stay so that you can leash him up. Teaching your dog this important lesson can be done quickly in a non-confrontational, non-physical way that exhibits your strong leadership qualities.

Your dog will learn that pushy, obnoxious and being rude gets him nothing. Patience, tolerance and politeness gives him access to food, toys, games and walks with you. These lessons are easier for some dogs to learn than others. Patience and politeness comes naturally for some dogs while others struggle with this lesson and get frustrated in the process.  Have patience.

I have always said that your dog is your teacher so also look for the lesson he is teaching you. Dogs have a way of causing you to reflect on your own problems if you take the time to look. It could be that your dog is trying to teach you patience.

Now let’s go outside.

The first thing you want to do is to make sure that you have a good 6’ leash and equipment that will help you get better control your dog on a walk.

This could be a gentle leader, head halti or a walking-type harness that allows you to attach your leash to the front chest area for optimum control NOT the top at the back which would maximize your dog’s control.

The bottom line is to use effective, humane tools and kind methods for teaching your dog to walk politely on a leash. No special collars, no beating up on your dog, no gimmicks.
How to structure your dog’s walk.

Once you are outside its best to allow your dog to pee/poop and relieve himself. Once he’s done this have him sit, then begin walking. Here’s how I recommend you structure walking your dog. I break it down into thirds.

The first 1/3 and last 1/3 of the walk he walks by your side at a brisk pace. You exercise your dog, yourself and your leadership skills. Your dog should sit before you start each of “your 1/3.” For the time being, controlling 2/3’s of the walk is important as it helps to keep him mindful of who’s in charge and you do this using an activity that has intrinsic value to him.

The middle 1/3 is your dog’s free time to pee, poop, sniff, etc. The message you want to be consistently clear to your dog is, “You still get your free-time but it is on my schedule not yours.” Later on you can give more free-times to your dog as he gets better at walking with you.

As you begin training your dog, just remember the lesson he may be teaching you and ask yourself, “Am I a good student?” Also think about this: Instead of spending time focusing on the end result, discover the benefit of being in the process – learning is in the doing – not always necessarily the outcome.

So, what do you think?  Ready to give it a try?  Let me know below if you have questions.

We’re always learning and there’s a bunch of you out there we are grateful to be able to serve and learn from.  

I’m really interested in your thoughts and opinions on this.  I’m here to help.

“Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”

Jim Burwell, professional dog trainer for 25+ years, serving 8700+ clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad.  Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.

His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is the culmination of these years of training into an easy, step-by-step process so that your dog understands what you expect of him, you empower him to be able to give you the behavior you want and you empower him to be successful at living in a human home.

Are you engaged with your dog

You Do Not Have to Have a Diamond Ring to be Engaged

I’m definitely engaged!  Yes sir, every morning with our lab Sammy and he doesn’t sport a diamond ring on his finger or his collar.

Now before you think I’ve gone off my rocker let me explain what I mean.

Every morning as Sammy and I walk, I see so many dog owners walking their dogs or, rather their dogs are walking them. The owners are very disengaged with their dogs and pre-occupied. They are not participating in the walk. Again, give me a minute and I’ll explain.

Here’s what I mean.

• They are talking on their phone.
• They are texting on their phone.
• They are ear bud equipped and on their iPods.

Their dogs seem to be resigned to doing their own thing – walking separate from their owner while still connected, but only via the leash. Once the poop walk is over its back home and off to work the oblivious owner goes.

Or at the dog park, owners are throwing a Frisbee with one hand while chatting with friends on the phone in the other hand. They are disengaged with their dogs. They are doing the mandatory walk or Frisbee throw then pay no attention to what the dog does next.

I already know what you’re thinking. Yeah, maybe that’s true BUT, at least they are exercising their dogs.

Your dog has been waiting for you to come home with the expectation of spending quality time with you doing something he likes to do – run and play outside with you-even train with you. So go get that Frisbee or ball and engage your dog. Don’t just put him in the back yard, give him a courtesy toss and leave him out by himself.

Owners with dog problems have one thing in common: They do not truly exercise their dogs. Their dogs are not walked at all or not enough to provide their dog with a good cardiovascular workout.

It is a fact that most all dog behavior problems are stress related. Another fact is that exercise can reduce stress and become a major contributor to a well-mannered dog. But you have to step up to the plate and engage your dog.

So, if you walk away from your game of fetch, your dog won’t continue to play. Why? The most important component is missing: YOU.

Are you engaged with your dog

Here are 3 amazing benefits you can get when engaging in activities with your dog. You can’t just do it for a while. It’s a lifestyle change that will change your life in a great way – forever.

Benefit #1: “A tired dog is a good dog.” That funny statement has more merit than you may think.

It’s been proven that aerobic, rhythmical exercise done at the same time every day with your dog – even to just a moderate intensity, can be a huge buffer for stress, create emotional calm and greatly improve your dog’s confidence. This is great for those high energy, young adolescent dogs – especially the bossy types!

Don’t be surprised if your relationship with your dog improves to levels beyond your expectations.

Benefit #2: Playing with your dog at the same time every day – games like fetch, tug-o-war can build your dog’s confidence and also improve the relationship between you and your dog by consistently adding positive activities in your lives.

Playing games creates positive emotional responses so that your dog can’t feel stressed or anxious at the same time. Play with your dog should always have rules. Here are some guidelines:

• Always require your dog to sit to start the game.
• Always require your dog to take the tug toy on cue.
• Always require your dog to release the tug toy on cue.
• Always end the game by requiring your dog to sit – then game over.
• Any tooth-to-skin contact immediately stops the game.
• Always put the interactive toy away until you decide to play again.

Tug-o-war is not always appropriate with all dogs depending on temperament. You know your dog and how comfortable you are with him. This should be an adult-only interactive game. It is a good way to burn predatory energy.

Game playing can be paired in with dog obedience training. Once your dog does 6-8 sits and downs he then gets to fetch the ball. This becomes a win-win situation and is a step in the right direction to wean him off food treats. Train with your dog but make it fast and fun. Remember, training doesn’t have to be limited to dog obedience. You can have fun with your dog teaching him tricks.

Benefit #3: Teach your dog to do a down. Once he is lying down, begin massage-like stimulation with light to moderate pressure in long, slow strokes and kneading motions.
Massage like this can help your dog to relax and relieve himself of stress. Good especially if you do this every day at the same time. Your dog will begin to look forward to this time with you.

The benefits of investing time in these ways could produce nothing short of a miraculous transformation from mischief to manners. It doesn’t cost a thing, yet ironically many fall short of devoting enough quality time to their dog.

So begin to partner with your dog, not just own your dog.

If you commit to this investment in time with your dog today, you can expect to receive immediate dividends that will compound for you every day, every week and every month. It will not only improve your relationship, your dog will become a much better listener and – for all the right reasons. He wants to!

So, let me know below—-are you REALLY engaged with your dog?  

We’re always learning and there’s a bunch of you out there we are grateful to be able to serve and learn from.  

I’m really interested in your thoughts and opinions on this.  I’m here to help.

“Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”

Jim Burwell, professional dog trainer for 25+ years, serving 8700+ clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad.  Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog. 

His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is the culmination of these years of training into an easy, step-by-step process so that your dog understands what you expect of him, you empower him to be able to give you the behavior you want and you empower him to be successful at living in a human home.

Dog Tricks: More than Just a High Cute Factor!

Dog Tricks: More than Just a High Cute Factor!

Dog tricks have more than just a high cute factor. They are great motivators for your dog. Believe me, not a week goes by that I don’t get asked – at least once or twice — to teach a dog a trick because it’s cute and the dog owner just wants to be able to show off his smart dog with, “Watch my dog do this really cute trick!”

Come on, admit it. You have too, right?

Dog Tricks: More than Just a High Cute Factor!

Even though dog tricks have a high cute factor, there is added hidden value to dog tricks. Check of just some of the benefits of dog tricks.

• Dog tricks can take you in a fun direction beyond the basics.
• Dog tricks are a fun way to exercise your dog inside and out of in-climate weather.
• Dog tricks can strengthen the bond between you and your dog.
• If you have kids, trick training is a way to keep them interested in dog training!
• Dog tricks help to build confidence in your dog.
• They’re easy because you can make a trick out of something your dog already does.

 Let’s talk about these benefits.

Dog tricks can take you beyond the basics.

Teaching your dog sit, down and come when called – while very important commands – can get just plain boring and, if you are like me, it kind of begs the question, “What else is there?”

BUT – the basics are important as foundation commands your dog should know “in order to do tricks.”

An example would be: In order to better teach your dog to roll-over, it would be good if your dog knew how to lay down first. If you wanted to teach your dog to wave or shake, it would work better if your dog knew the sit command.

Learning the basics should be the first step in doing tricks because of how some basic commands are integrated as “first steps” in many dog tricks.

Trick training your dog keeps his listening skills sharp.

He not only becomes a better listener, he begins to anticipate doing fun things with you and becomes more compliant in a natural way.

Good, bad weather exercise.

Lots of exercise awaits your dog as you plan to teach him “roll-over” or “crawl.” It’s great fun and can be easily taught indoors out of the heat and/or rain! Creating mental fatigue along with getting your dog physically tired can be a “double-header” for you on those extreme weather days.

Bond-strengthening tricks.

Every time you do things with your dog, he loves you more. Just make sure you keep it mutually beneficial. Both you and your dog have to get something from working together.

Dogs are pack animals and if there is one thing that is very evident, it’s the more “inclusive” your relationship is with your dog, that is, the more your dog is included in the things you do, the more bonded he becomes to you and the more he WANTS to please you. He is less stressed and you have fewer behavior problems.

Dog tricks keep training fun for kids (age-appropriate interaction, please.)

Let’s face it; kids know what’s cool and what’s not cool. Getting the family dog to do a sit is cool at first but it does get boring and is no longer cool. But sit and “High Five!” is really cool – especially in front of your friends! Lying down is cool at first but looses its cool quickly. Add a roll-over to the down and the “cool-factor” goes through the roof! Kids love it. Dogs love it. It’s mutually beneficial. It pays dividends.

Dog tricks are great confident builders.

Some dogs are very soft and just lack confidence. What a better way to build confidence in your dog than to train your dog using tricks. Being able to perform dog tricks is the beginning to teach your dog that he is in control of his environment. Making certain choices (performing tricks) causes things to happen – praise/treat(s). That’s confidence!

It’s Easy to Take What Your Dog Already Does and Make it A Trick

I have often just observed a dog and decided that what I see them doing naturally would be a great trick. What do I mean?

Here’s a great example.

Our past Greyhound, Katie, the “couch potato queen” used to wake up from her naps on the couch, hit the floor and do a really long stretch – butt up in the air and front elbows on the ground — nothing like a good stretch after a nap to get the juices flowing again! It looked so cute I decided to make a trick out of it.

I just needed to call it something like “take a bow.”

My next step was to catch her every time she did her stretch so that I could praise/treat her. In no time at all I had a new trick – on command.

So in summary dog tricks can take you in a new, fun direction with your training outside or in doors out of the extreme weather, build confidence and a bond that will never break – all while entertaining the kids!

The main thing is to have fun and enjoy the ride. Don’t get too hung up on the “hurry up and finish part” – it will come soon enough.

 Here’s Another Example

Here’s a YouTube video of CeCe a little dog here in Houston.  I taught her these tricks and because of those tricks she landed 2 commercials here in Houston.  The last one for Center Point EnergyMay I introduce Miss CeCe Spain!   CLICK HERE

 

If this sounds AND looks like fun, check out my Train A Trick A Day.


“Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”

Jim Burwell, professional dog trainer for 25+ years, serving 8700+ clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad.  Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog. 

Dog Training Common Sense Tips

Dog Training: Common Sense Tips

Dog training your dog should include good ol’ common sense. You could say they go together like peanut butter and jelly.

I do find that when working on dog training, some folks don’t think about some of what I consider common sense or “no-brainer” things when it comes to dog training their dog. I’ve got lots of “hind sight” that should count for something.

Dog Training Common Sense Tips

 

So, let’s take a look in my rear view mirror at what I’ve learned that’s worked for so many years.

Jim’s common sense tips

Ready? Ok then, let’s take a look at my tips you might not have thought of when you train your dog because they’re easy and, they do just make good common sense.

  • The first tip is “always work and train your dog on leash – even in the house.” You would be absolutely amazed at the difference in your dog’s response to you if you just pick up the leash and hold your end of it as you do your basic training. Even for behavior modification around the house, I’ve learned over time that dogs that are attached to a leash (as opposed to being unattached) are more compliant and responsible
  • Remember that it takes about 4-6 weeks of daily training for dogs to learn a new behavior and commit it to permanent memory AND do it around distractions that are relevant to you. That’s a lot of work.
  • Practice what you need your dog to know how to do around distractions that are relevant to your personal situation. If you don’t do it this way then your dog will NOT know how to behave in those situations. And, if you expect that level of response, but you’ve not taught him in the right situations, neither you nor your dog will be a happy camper. Especially your dog, if you are constantly correcting him.
  • When using food treats for training, systematically wean your dog off the treats so that he performs flawlessly for you around distractions without food.
  • Be consistent in your training. Remember, it’s not how long you train at each interval as much as it is being consistent with your training each and every day.
  • Teach your dog to respect your personal boundaries. He should never come into your personal space unless invited. If you dog learns that then no one gets jumped on by your dog. Dogs judge relationships based on who can control their personal space.
  • Develop a good habit of rewarding your dog’s good behavior. For example, no one seems to remember to reward a quiet dog but instead, they step right up with verbal corrections when he barks.
    • If you see your dog being quiet, praise and treat him. You’ll be surprised at the mileage you’ll get out of that simple tip. If you like him lying on the floor across the room from you, praise/treat that behavior. The more he’s rewarded for that behavior, the more of that behavior he will give you. Use his kibble as his treats. Kick the value of the treat up as you add distractions.
    • Make a list of all the things your dog could possibly want and assign a value to it. An example would be performing a sit, down and stay for his meals. A sit may also be good for going out to go potty as well as coming back inside.

Now, you might say, “I know that stuff already!”

If you do already know this stuff, then I’ve got some questions for you: Do you practice this stuff? And, do you practice this stuff consistently every day?

Most dog owners are looking for fast results – and tend to think that just because their dog can sit or down, he’s good to go around distractions. But he won’t be. It takes many months of consistent practice to get your dog good around your typical distractions.

So come on. Get off the couch, turn off the TV, turn on your common sense and let’s train!

I’m always curious about your input – it’s important to me.  

We’re always learning and there’s a bunch of you out there we are grateful to be able to serve and learn from.  

I’m really interested in your thoughts and opinions on this.  I’m here to help.

“Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”

Jim Burwell, professional dog trainer for 25+ years, serving 8700+ clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad.  Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog. 

His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is the culmination of these years of training into an easy, step-by-step process so that your dog understands what you expect of him, you empower him to be able to give you the behavior you want and you empower him to be successful at living in a human home.

Do You Make Excuses for Your Dog?

Do you make excuses for your dog?  Think about it. Making excuses for your dog’s behavior may not only be the wrong solution but it could be an unsafe solution. Let me explain with an example.

A young lady who we will call Susan has a small Jack Russell named Bell. She wrote to me about an incident regarding her dog and by the tone – and length – of her email I could tell she was deeply troubled.

Apparently Susan has a cleaning lady come daily to her home on week days. The cleaning lady enters through the front door each day and Bell greets her on the front porch when she opens the front door.

Bell’s issue according to Susan

This has always been the typical greeting after Susan and Bell have returned from their walk. However, on the day of the incident Susan got a late start for her walk and had just leashed up Bell to go when her cleaning lady came into the foyer. The cleaning lady bent down to greet the leashed pup and got bit on the hand.

Susan was not only devastated but embarrassed with Bell’s behavior and immediately put her away to see to the cleaning lady’s wound.

Susan wrote to me for advice.

What had caused Bell to snap and try to bite someone with whom she has always had a pleasant experience? Susan was desperate for answers.

Not having nearly enough information about Bell’s history, I wrote Susan with questions of my own in hopes to help Susan understand Bell’s dilemma.

Susan’s excuse

The next day and before I got answers to my questions I received another email from Susan saying everything was alright now. Bell and her cleaning lady had a happy encounter and greeting and things were all okay.

 

Here is her excuse:

“It was at that moment I realized that the day of the incident we had not yet had our walk. Bell was displeased about this and had acted out on our cleaning lady. Today I made sure to walk Bell as usual – before our cleaning lady arrived and Bell is all better now!”

So let me ask you, is Susan’s  dog’s behavior acceptable?  Or should she seek the advice of a professional and consider a dog training program to work on a viable solution?

Has Susan’s excuse masked a more serious problem that would surface again later and cause more pain and problems?

I’m always curious about your input – it’s important to me.  Do you make excuses for your dog? Please comment and let me know what you think.

We’re always learning and there’s a bunch of you out there we are grateful to be able to serve and learn from.  

I’m really interested in your thoughts and opinions on this.    – I’m here to help.

“Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”

Jim Burwell, professional dog trainer for 25+ years, serving 8700+ clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad.  Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog. 

His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is the culmination of these years of training into an easy, step-by-step process so that your dog understands what you expect of him, you empower him to be able to give you the behavior you want and you empower him to be successful at living in a human home.

Is Your Dog Possessed?

Dog Behavior: Its Like My Dog is Possessed!

“Its like my dog is possessed!” Have you ever thought this? There is so much written about dealing with and training puppies but so little on managing the next stage of mischief, canine adolescence. It’s almost as if sometimes you don’t know why your dog does what he does.  He should know better!

 

Is Your Dog Possessed?

 

Get a leash – get a grip

Problems associated with adolescent dog behavior can develop in your dog very quickly if you do not take the time to train. At the very least, teach your dog to respond to “No,” “Sit,” “Come” and “Settle.” Not getting a grip on your dog’s behavior with obedience training and ultimately your dog’s adolescent behavior is setting your dog and you up for years of problems down the road. My recommendation: Get a leash – get a grip.

What’s a leash got to do with it? Well, I’ve said this for years in all my writings about dog behavior, but most don’t think of, or just flat won’t put a leash on their dog in the house to start controlling their dog. It’s too inconvenient. They will put up with the behavior before stopping the behavior – which is what you can do with a leash.

A dog off leash gets to make its own decisions about what to do. When a dog is on leash he is simply more compliant and responsible because he now knows you can reinforce the behavior for which you’ve asked.

Instead of allowing your “possessed dog” free rein to jump on you, put a leash on your dog and require him to settle down by your foot. A foot on the leash will go a long way to settling down a rambunctious dog. Practice this a few times a night for just a couple of minutes each night—just for a couple of weeks. Increase the amount of time you require your dog to settle. You will have a changed dog.

I also get many complaints about adolescent dogs going absolutely crazy when you get the leash out to go for a walk. Some have claimed it takes 5 – 10 minutes or longer just to get the leash on – and then it’s a struggle when you try to exit the door for your walk. These goofy juveniles want to charge out the door – over you, through you, around you but definitely not after you!

Yet another area people often perceive as “bad” behavior with their dog, when in actuality it is usually just normal dog behavior is time to go walkies.
It is true that many dogs get extremely excited about going for a walk! Finally we get to do something other than sit around. “Okay, let’s go!” Somehow your dog thinks that by acting half crazed running around and jumping and biting at the leash, the walk will start sooner. What’s the solution?

 Preparing for the walk – the fakeout

This quick fix worked for one dog owner. She was the proud owner of three dogs – Labrador retrievers – and all their leashes and gear hung on a vertical coat rack by the front door. The trigger for their crazed insanity was her approaching the coat rack full of leashes and gear.

This is the solution we came up with. She approached the coat rack a dozen or more times each evening removing one or two leashes and jingling the collars and then immediately hung them back up and returned to her seat.

After many repetitions each night for a week, the dogs didn’t even began bother to get up, they just laid there and yawned, because she never completed the loop of putting the leash and collar on any dog. They began to get desensitized to her going to the coat rack and so they stayed calm.

Once she achieved the calm she wanted, she leashed up her dogs and went walking. The dogs learned that by being quiet, they got their walk. Being loud and crazy goMom leaving the gear on the rack.

Train your dogs to give you the behavior you want – whether it’s a simple sit or a settle. The trade off is they get their needs satisfied. Pretty soon they will be offering you the good dog behavior all the time.

I’m really interested to hear if you have this problem.  Do you?  – I’m here to help.

“Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”

Jim Burwell, professional dog trainer for 25+ years, serving 8700+ clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad.  Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.

His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is the culmination of these years of training into an easy, step-by-step process so that your dog understands what you expect of him, you empower him to be able to give you the behavior you want and you empower him to be successful at living in a human home.