Training & management go hand in hand

It is a common misperception among pet people that once training begins, all is well. Depending on the training goals, Barkley’s excessive barking stops, Chewie’s chewing moves to toys only or basic obedience just takes shape. This is NOT the case. This article is one of the best illustrations of how even the most rigorous training doesn’t mean that the dog just simply knows what not to do.

So many factors beyond the training lessons come into play, and owners MUST continue management techniques to help their training efforts flourish into long-term success. These techniques can include removing the undesirable chew targets from an area, using barriers in the door ways of rooms while house training, removing food from counters to prevent counter surfing, and any other actions that help your dog be successful by minimizing or eliminating unwanted behaviors.
But, for how long? That question is almost impossible to answer. Your dog will tell you through the training process. Her age, personality, genetics and many other factors influence how quickly she learns and how strongly the training will stick. Once you’re confident she has mastered the behavior, you can relax your diligence.

Why positive obedience training?

CalSittingFor many years, people–including trainers–used forceful methods to train dogs not to do the things that drove us crazy. Hitting, kicking, jerking on leash, the “alpha roll” and other methods of punishment were used when we discovered unwanted behaviors. Even now, it isn’t uncommon to find these types of punishment in attempts to change behavior.

More recently, however, experts in dog behavior and training have determined both the downfalls of these methods and the upside to more positive training styles for companion animals and even those being trained for service. Simply put, positive training uses a rewards-based system to show dogs what we want them to do.

Not only does positive training produce results, but it builds a strong, long-term bond between the dog and person. It is less stressful, and it should be fun for both. There is also virtually no risk of injury. With methods using physical punishment, bodily harm to the dog can happen before the person even realizes it, or the dog could react aggressively out of fear or pain and injure the person.

Another benefit to positive reinforcement training is that it can begin as soon as you meet your dog. Because physical punishment was a component of training in the old days, a program couldn’t begin until at least six months of age.

Positive, force-free training is the most effective form of training to produce good behavior for the lifetime of your dog. Whether training basic manners or solving more complex behaviors such as house-training, excessive barking, and inappropriate digging or chewing, positive training will help you and your dog meet your goals and feel good about how you got there.

Surviving the dog days

RestingDogOppressive heat has been upon us for some time, and we likely still have a few weeks of these dog days of summer left. It’s easy to just stay inside with air conditioning and ice cream, but that can cause problems for our four-legged friends, who need to work out some energy.

While outdoor exercise provides the space needed to run, make noise and play until the heart’s content, heat can be dangerous for our pets. Here are some ideas to stay safe in the heat and expend some energy indoors.

  • Set aside time in the early morning and late evening for trips outdoors.
  • Even then, limit time, rest more frequently and stay away from concrete. As concrete heats, it can burn paws AND affect the way dogs’ bodies react to heat (remember, they sweat through their paws). 
  • Wherever you’re playing outside, be sure there are shady areas close-by for breaks.
  • ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS have water available (to drink).
  • Having a kiddie pool accessible is a lot of fun for water lovers and can beat the heat.
  • Never leave a dog in a car in the summer—not in the shade, not with the windows down. Just NEVER.

There are lots of fun games you can play inside to keep your dog occupied (bonus-if you have children, they could be in charge of these games to stay busy too).

Finally, these frozen popsicles can help keep cool and busy after being outdoors on a hot day (or anytime).

Before you know it, we’ll be ready to use some of those same games for snow days!