shelter dog adopted food

Busy life and a bored dog

flirt pole pitbull

Flirt Poles are a great way to exercise a dog

How do exercise your dog without wasting precious time?

You live a busy lifestyle between the kids and work the idea of taking your dog for a long evening jog just doesn’t sound appealing to most families.
 Unfortunately, unless you own a senior Basset Hound hanging out in the backyard all day simply isn’t enough.   Even with a large backyard dogs do not exercise themselves enough to meet their basic mental and physical needs at least not without picking up some bad habits like barking, digging and chewing on your shrubs. 
A yard alone doesn’t exercise your dog!  Nope! No excuses it just flat out doesn’t.
Realistically a very high percentage of family dogs do not have their basic exercise needs met which is a huge problem because your dog is forced to practice behaviors like digging, escaping, barking and fence fighting.  These behavior problems may eventually lead to rehoming, frustrated dogs and frustrated neighbors.
Try these tips to provide your dog with the exercise it desperately needs without adding a ton of work to your plate.
  • Only feed out of Kong Wobblers or feeding puzzles. Spending 30 minutes chasing their food around twice a day is a lot better than spending 30 minutes twice a day barking at squirrels.
  • Stuff a kong with peanut butter and freeze it.  This’ll give your dog another 30 minutes of mental exercise time when they are not getting into trouble.
  • Do you already take your dogs for a walk?  If so then just pop a weighted backpack to your dog! This give them double the workout without any additional work from you! ( not ideal for dogs prone to joint and back issues)
  • Buy a flirt Pole!  It’s like CrossFit for dogs.  Plus the kids will have fun with it too. Keep in mind that this should be used as a training device not a wild free-for-all Chase session.
  • Turn on a bubble machine for 30 minutes of fun time to chase bubbles.

Stop! Don’t run out and get another dog!

If you’re not meeting the mental and physical needs of one dog then you definitely can’t meet the physical and mental needs of a second dog!   It simply doesn’t work like this more often then not they will teach each other bad habits not the good ones.  Training must come from you you can’t expect another dog to teach your dog to stop digging, barking or chewing…. it just doubles the trouble!

Treats, Squirrels and More

You should never limit your motivational tool box to food rewards.

While we use a significant number of training treats in our classes we encourage all owners to think outside the box. You will have far more reliable behaviors if you learn to utilize the other rewards that already exist in your dog’s daily life.
First let’s consider what is a reward to your dog.
 Does your dog get excited when you pick up your keys to go for a car ride? Does your dog get excited when you walk towards the cabinet which holds his food? Does your dog go bananas when you pick up the leash?
If your dog is becoming excited for something consider this a reward. Your dog obviously finds it incredibly enjoyable and it’s a great opportunity to start to build some manners.
Make a list of all of the things your dog gets excited for whether it’s being invited onto the couch, being handed it’s favorite toy or just having a leash snapped on to his collar these are all opportunities for rewarding your dog utilizing something other than a food reward.
How to teach your dog to say please by sitting.
When you pick up the leash and your dog becomes very excited roll the leash up in your hand so none of it is dangling (if it’s dangling your dog may choose to bite at it) and wait. Your dog will probably offer the same behavior that’s worked for him for the last year or the last 6 months which may be spinning around in circles barking or even jumping on you.
I want you to ignore all that, so don’t try this exercise if you are in a hurry.  It may seem counterproductive but allowing your dog to cycle through those behaviors.  That will allow him to problem-solve and learn what behaviors do not work to get the leash put on.
Eventually your dog will offer a, behavior that is calmer.
If your dog was previously jumping on you and biting at the leash then you’re calmer Behavior might be standing and pausing for a second. If your dog was previously just spinning in circles without making any physical contact your, behavior might be a sit.
The moment you get the behavior that you’re happy with say “yes” and snap the leash to your dog’s collar. After a week of this your dog will automatically choose the behavior that gets him his reward having the leash placed on him the fastest.
You will be surprised by how little your dog now have to cycle through the other behaviors that formally earned him the reward of having a leash put on.
 Remember you get what you reward.
training bully dogs

We use all rewards, not just treats!

Faster Training With Markers

trick training

Markers are great for all dogs

Why we use reward markers…. 
When you take a class with Bennett Canine Training you will be asked to select a reward marker during your first session with us. A reward marker is a very clear way of communicating with your dog which increases your dog’s understanding of the content we are teaching and decreases how long it takes your dog to learn new behaviors.

What is a reward marker? 
A reward marker or a bridge word is used to tell your dog the exact minute they performed the correct Behavior.   A great example of this is if you were teaching your dog to make eye contact with you. If you asked your dog to look in your eyes and then simply fed him a treat you would be treating him while he was looking at the treating your hand not your eyes.   The moment you move your hands your dog WILL instinctively look at your hands. Whereas if you were able to use a word to say “that’s correct, now your food is coming” you can Mark while your dog’s eyes are still on your eyes before they look to the treat. Another important example would be if your dog was at a park off leash and you ask your dog to leave something, you want to be able to pinpoint the exact minute they left the object, even if it’ll take five to 10 seconds for your dog to make it across the field to you. Timing on your rewards is critical.

Why don’t we just use good boy? 
Technically you can use good talk good or good boy, but often times this word is used very frequently by strangers meeting your dog or by family and friends when they’re interacting with your dog. We want our marker word to be a special word that is used only when we will produce a reward after it.  This word is only between Handler and dog. If we choose to use good boy and our dog jumps up on somebody and they say good boy then they’re reinforcing that incorrect Behavior.
 
When to use a marker word? 

Imagine that your marker word is a camera and you want to take a picture of the exact moment your dog does the correct Behavior. If I was working on teaching sit, I would use my marker word the second my dogs butt hit the floor or if I was working on down I would use my marker word the second my dog’s elbows hit the ground.

What word should I select for my marker word? 
It doesn’t really matter as long as you consistently use it before giving your dog the food reward. Timing is more important.  It should go, marker word pause food reward with only one to two seconds in between.   Marker words that I typically recommend for my students are yes, nice, super, yup or sweet.

Good luck in training and have fun!

Leash Pressure and Pulling Dogs

blue pitbull bennett canine training

See the slack in the leash?

If you struggle to enjoy walking your dog because your dog pushes all of his weight into the leash you are not alone.  Thousand of owners out there struggle with their dog pulling.  If I had to venture a guess I would say at least 80 percent of dog owners wish their dogs walked better on the leash.  Loose leash walking doesn’t have to be a unreachable goal.  You can enjoy walking your dog if you can learn to  correctly use the leash.

 

Understanding collar/leash pressure is a must for achieving a enjoyable loose leash walking experience.  Have you ever seen a dog or a puppy the very first time that they are on a leash?  A lot of dogs and puppies become frightened the first time that the feel the restraint of a leash.  Their reaction is often to pull against the leash even harder, cry, roll around like a fish out of water or even bite at the leash. 

Why do puppies act like this the first time they are on a leash?

The dog or puppy is cycling through behaviors trying to figure out how to make the collar pressure go away; because he doesn’t like how it feels to have pulling on the leash/collar.  Their response is referred to by dog trainers as the opposition reflex

Dogs and puppies quickly learn to “get used to” this feeling which is ultimately why they pull.  If the owner just stood there, keeping the leash the exact same length and allowed their puppy to cycle through behaviors the puppy would eventually take a step towards the owner which would result in the feeling the puppy didn’t like (pulling on the collar) to go away.  Thus teaching the puppy the best way to make collar pressure go away is to give to it, by moving towards their handlers.  Unfortunately, many handlers overreact to their puppy’s overreaction, so they miss out on teaching this important opportunity.

Communicating through the leash:

Think of your leash as a phone line and every time there is solid pressure in the leash there is static in the phone line.  If you want to communicate with your dog through the leash you must have a loose leash.

A dog who understands to move with leash pressure can be asked to lay down with downward collar pressure, they can move to your left side with gentle guidance and they can back up with the slightest two finger tug.  In order for a dog to get to this level the owner must understand that collar pressure is a cue.  Just like sit or down your collar pressure is a cue that means “move this way”.

The pact of loose leash walking,  if I don’t pull on you then you don’t pull on me

Both parties; dog and owner, must agree on this pact.  I frequently see people trying to force their dog to heel by only providing 2-3 feet of leash and keeping their dog by their left side.

There are actually several problems with this attempt at teaching loose leash walking. 

 If your dog only has 2-3 feet of leash then your dog may not have any place to walk without pulling. By keeping your leash to short you are teaching your dog to pull.  You teach your dog to pull by not giving them enough leash to walk any were without having tension on the leash.

Another problem is that the well meaning owner is mistaking Heel and Loose Leash Walking.  By not having your goals clear in your own mind no wonder the dog ends up confused.  Heel is a position that you can call your dog into, their shoulder to your leg.  It has nothing at all to do with the leash and should be able to be trained off leash.  Loose leash walking is keeping slack in the leash.

You need to understand that your dog is either pulling or not, so if your out walking your dog and you are only giving your dog 2 feet of leash how can he walk without pulling?  Your training him to pull by pulling on him.  I know that sounds crazy, but the more opportunities that you give your dog to feel a tight leash the more you are desensitizing them to collar pressure. 

We want our dogs to be very sensitive to collar pressure. 

The more sensitive they are to the collar the less they pull.  There is no kinda of pulling, if you or your dog or you has taken the slack out of the leash your dog is practicing pulling.

Your leash should have a nice U- shaped drape in it if your dog is not pulling.  Once student’s dogs understand collar pressure and owners have great leash skills the biggest complaint you should have is your dog stepping on the slack in the leash.

Leash Rules:

  • Your dog should have at least 5 feet of leash between your hand and his collar, the longer the leash the better.
  • Don’t wrap the leash around your hand this shortens the leash and makes it harder to tell when your dog is pulling
  • Reward your dog every time he puts slack back on the leash by verbal rewards, treats or moving forward
  • Bring rewards like toys and treats, going forward can also be a reward for your dog.
  • Don’t accept pulling; each and every time your dog pulls you must address it.  If you feel as though you are in to much of a rush to train use a training collar like a easy walk harness for when you are in a hurry and a different collar for training sessions.
  • Stay calm, just because your dog is excited and worked up you don’t have to be. 
  • Pay attention while walking your dog.  If you want them to pay attention to you then you pay attention to them.

 The magic collar:

Why is it that when you try a new “no-pull harness” or new training collar that your dog immediately seems to be better on leash?  Remember, the puppy that has never been on a leash before?  They were sensitive to the new feeling, so they had a big reaction to even a little bit of pressure.  Since harnesses and training collars change what pressure feels like your dog is more sensitive to the new pressure. 

You often will see that your dog is immediately more sensitive to collar pressure, but just like with a regular flat collar you can quickly desensitize your dog to the new training tool. 

When to use a training collar:

You never want to rely on a training collar to teach your dog to walk nice on leash, but these training tools are great when you are too busy to train, you aren’t strong enough to keep control of your dog and if you need a little extra help until training sets in.

We will be posting how to teach yielding to collar pressure in the next few weeks.

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Leaning in Collar Pressure