Daily Training Rituals With Your Dog

A member of our dog training forum wrote to ask me, “I was wondering if you would give us an example of a typical day with your dog. For example what games do you play with your dog throughout the day? What is involved in training sessions? How long do you leave your dog alone during the day? How often do you give your dog a time out or rest period? Anything else that you can think of to add. Thanks in advance.”

Adam replies: 

Good question!

The answer– like so many things in life– is: It depends.

My rituals for pet/companion dogs is different than if I’m training a high drive sport or working dog.  In addition, the age of the dog will factor in, as well.  The one commonality you’ll find is that dogs crave a consistent schedule, so I try to keep things as regular as possible: Feeding times, exercise time, play time, training, etc…  Yet, we also keep in mind that the dogs are here to please us, and not the other way around.  So, if something important comes up, I don’t let the dogs’ schedules interfere with mine (within reason).

Dog #1: Here are some sample daily rituals for an older dog who is already trained and has low exercise requirements:

6:30: Wake up, let the dog out to urinate.

7:00: Have breakfast and watch the news on TV.  The dog is required to stay on his “place board”, which is next to the sofa.

7:30-8:00AM: Get dog (and myself) ready for our power walk.  Dog must hold a sit-stay while I put his collar on, and a down-stay while I put on my shoes and jacket.  Take the dog for a 1/2 hour walk.  Dog must walk on a loose leash the entire time and wait at certain curbs.  Upon return, I let the dog out to defecate.

8:15: Feed dog.  Let dog out to potty, again.

9:00: Start work.  Dog is allowed to lie around the house where ever he desires.


11:00-11:15: Dog will come outside with me to check on the chickens and watch me fill up his water bowl.  He’ll usually chew on some grass then go lie down and sleep in the sun.

12:00 noon: Break for lunch, dog must stay on his place board.

12:30 – 3:00: Office work.  Dog is sleeping.

3:00 – 3:30: Sit-stay while I get car ready.  Dog then rides in back of SUV while I run errands, if weather is cool or if I’m going somewhere I can bring the dog.  For example: Home Depot, where he’ll hop out of the truck and walk alongside me on a loose leash.  We’ll also practice sits and downs while putting stuff in the shopping cart or waiting at the checkout.  The dog usually gets a lot of attention so I make him hold a sit-stay while people pet him.

3:45 — Pick up the mail: Dog must sit while I get the mail from the mail box, then it’s his job to carry the mail back to the house.

4:00-5:00 PM: Wait in the entryway for the UPS man to visit.

5:00 – 6:00 PM: Hang out with Carla in the kitchen while she prepares dinner.  Occasionally get a piece of cheese in exchange for doing a trick.

6:00 – 7:00 PM: Hold a down-stay while he watches us eat, or stay on the place-board.

7:00 PM: Dog gets to eat.

7:10 PM: Outside with the dog to let the chickens free range.  During this time, I’ll work the dog through a training regimen, just to keep him sharp.  That lasts about 15-20 minutes.  Then I’ll play fetch with him for half an hour.

9:00 PM: Carla will give him a half a tortilla to eat, then spend 20-30 minutes cuddling with him.

10 PM: Lights out.  The dog sleeps in our home office, across from the master bedroom.  He doesn’t move all night.


Dog #2: A younger dog who is not yet trained:

Pretty much the same as above, but I will add at least two additional training sessions of 10-20 minutes a piece.  One in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Since younger dogs typically have more energy, I will also add a 20 minute treadmill session in the late morning, usually around 11:00 AM.  While the dog is on the treadmill, I’ll be sitting next to him with my laptop, tablet or phone so that I can work while the dog is burning off excess energy.

When I have two or more dogs at the same time, I will use the presence of the additional dogs as a distraction for the dog I am training.  This is a big help as my system is built around using as many different distractions as possible during the proofing phase.  For example: When we have three dogs staying with us, two of the dogs will hold a down-stay while I throw a ball for the third dog.  Then I switch and let the second dog chase the ball, then the first.

The other thing I do differently with a young dog or a new dog who is in training is that he does not get the free time around the house to choose where he can lie around: Either he will be on a place board in my office or else in the crate.

For dogs that are high drive or excessive chewers, I will typically give the dog a chew toy to play with while in the crate or on the place board.  If I’m going to be out of the house for most of the day, I’ll do something similar to what Larry describes, here.

On weekends, we’ll take the dogs out for an activity, like a long walk around the marina and then lunch at a restaurant with an outdoor patio.  We like to use several of the games in my report: Games To Play With Your Dog, when we have the time.

I should note that when I’m working with a new dog, I will write down my training goals on a piece of paper.  During the formal training session, I will teach the exercise.  Then, throughout my day, I will practice randomly to reinforce the behavior while I’m puttering around the house.  For example: If I need to get a book from the book case and the dog I’ve been teaching the sit-stay to is with me, I’ll make him sit while I get the book, then give him the release command when I’m ready to return to my office.

Training A Young Dog To Hunt Hogs (Or Wild Boar!)

Jasper wrote to ask me about training his dog to hunt wild hogs/wild boar:  “I have recently purchased a dog.  She is a Labrador/Bully/English Pointer cross.   She is eight months-old and she is a little timid.  I am slowly building her confidence but when I take her hunting she follows me rather than goes off to hunt.  Is there any advice into building her natural instinct to hunt??”

I replied:

Hi, Jaspur:  I think she’s probably still too young to expect her to go off and hunt independently. I wouldn’t expect her to do that until she’s probably around 1 1/2 to 2 years of age.  The best thing you can do for a dog like this is to let her hunt in a pack with more experienced dogs– once she’s a little older.  At this age, just let her hang with you and watch the older dogs work.  I’d recommend talking with an experience hog dog trainer, though.  If she’s got it in her, I’d expect it will come out after being on a few hunts. If she doesn’t, then you’re stuck with a pet rock. Drive is genetics. If she’s got it, you can enhance it. But if she doesn’t have it, she doesn’t have it.

Jasper replied:  “Thanks Adam.  I’m going to take her out with a pack this weekend.  Is there any other advice you can give me to really enhance her hunting instincts preferably in a controlled manner?  Drills and exercises, maybe?”

I replied: I’m probably not the guy to ask about training hog hunting dogs. I’m at the top when it comes to teaching dogs how to be great companion animals, but I’ve never been hog hunting (although I’d love to go, someday!) Nor do I have any contacts in the hog hunting world. There is currently a reality TV show about some guys down in Texas who use dogs to hunt wild boar. The show has probably brought a lot of attention to the niche, I would imagine?

From what I know about dog training in general and about working dogs in specific — and from what I’ve seen in some old videos on hog hunting– a lot of it appears to be finding a good dog with strong natural hunt drive and picking the right dog to start with. I haven’t seen any actual hog dog training in person, other than once seeing a guy start a young dog in a controlled environment. But even that was more just acclimation than training, per se.

You might try some of the hog dog hunting forums online and see what they have to say.

Back in 1995-96, I was very involved in researching the American Bulldog breed (used frequently to hunt hogs) out in California and knew many trainers and breeders. But they don’t do much hog hunting in California, so the actual hog hunting  just wasn’t something I was exposed to, beyond a few videos on VHS. (Remember VHS?)


Dog Training Tips For The Dog Collar and Leash

It is important that every dog learns to feel comfortable with a collar and lead, as this will be required when taking the dog to public places.

Walking your dog with a collar and lead is a basic and important skill otherwise you will be one of those people where the dog takes them for a walk and they are forever straining to hold the dog back from running away. The bigger the dog, the bigger the problem.

Even if your dog is extremely well trained it is unwise to take it out without a collar and lead as accidents can happen. The dog might get scared from unexpected noise or another dog might attract its attention and it could run off. If the dog is in new surroundings it could also get spooked by new noises and run off without thinking. Having a collar with good identification will help you to locate your dog should it ever go missing so this is an important safety factor that we all hope we never have to rely on.

You must always choose a collar that your dog will feel comfortable with as it will be wearing it a lot of the time and you can’t even start leash training until your dog has become accustomed to the collar. On puppies it is not unusual for them to try to remove the collar when they first start wearing it.

It is best to simply ignore your puppy and they will soon get used to wearing it. You can help by distracting it with toys or playing with it so it forgets that it is even wearing a collar. Once your dog has accepted wearing the collar you can begin leash training.

A Dog Training Tip For Boosting Your Dog’s Intelligence with Toys

There are many benefits in giving your dog the right toys to play with. While most people think that dog toys are only to relieve boredom this is not the only use for these toys.

Sure dog toys are excellent for relieving boredom and are especially good where you might have to leave your dog on it’s own for periods of time, but there are other reasons why you should consider buying your dog toys.

Some dog toys are designed to boost their intelligence where they will only get a reward after they have performed certain tasks. These toys are a very effective method of training. Other toys help a dog to know what they can chew and in doing so you can save yourself a lot of expense by not having to replace expensive items throughout the house that can be destroyed at the teeth of your pet.

There are chewing toys that will help your dog strengthen and keep their teeth clean and there are toys that will help teach your dog with retrieval training. You really need to decide what you want the toys for before buying and also to determine what the personality of your dog is before you can get the right toys for it.

Some toys are designed to last for a short period of time when they will be replaced by new ones, and these are often the chewing variety. Some toys of the chewing variety are flavored so you will need to check first to see what ingredients they have used for the flavoring or you might be buying a toy that your dog is allergic to.

These toys with flavoring often have preservatives in them so beware. With such a wide variety of toys available on the market these days there is certain to be something that your dog will enjoy and make their life all the more happy.

Please note: This article is part of a collection of dog-related content that we purchased the rights to. Opinions expressed may or may not agree with those espoused by Master Dog Trainer Adam G. Katz. When in doubt, please refer to the advice given in Adam’s dog training book. This article is provided for your enjoyment, only. It’s relevance to real world working dog training may be limited.

Three Basic Tips For Better Handling Of Your Dog

Dog Training has been taught by many different schools of thought. Teaching your dog new tricks and handling obedience training takes both dedication and patience.

It also takes a sense of skill and personal awareness of not only your dog’s actions, but your own body language and training practices as well. Below are three tips that any dog trainer can utilize when handling their pets:

1. Signals should be given to your dogs with one hand and arm only. In the earliest stages you may exaggerate the signals to gain the dog’s attention, but in the final analysis all signals must be given smoothly and swiftly without any excess body motion. The size of your dog is not a factor here, for you can train any dog to pay attention, and if he is paying attention to you he will see your signals.

The people who would disagree with this theory are those who have yet to learn how to make their dogs pay attention to them. You will have to watch yourself very carefully to avoid giving unintentional body signals to your dog. It is natural for a beginner to nod his head, lean forward, or move his hands when he calls his dog.

He is so intent in watching his dog that he is unaware of his own actions. Have someone watch you so he can tell you when he notices you doing this.

2. Be consistent – never correct a dog for a misdemeanor one day and praise him the next for the same act. You cannot expect your dog to understand an exercise if you keep changing your training methods each time you try it. Dogs learn the basic work by repetition, and the entire training program should proceed smoothly and consistently. For instance, the techniques that you will use in puppy training will be repeated in advanced exercises when your dog gets older, and your handling will be just the same.

3. You should study your dog so you can foresee his reaction to any situation. You should become attuned to your dog’s sensitivities. If you have a gentle, quiet dog, do not antagonize him by rough treatment. He will become very alert and responsive if you train him in a calm and gentle manner with consideration for his feelings. Aggressive or overly playful dogs need a more forceful approach.

Tips For The Aspiring Competition Dog Handler

Tips For The Aspiring Competition Dog Handler Handling dogs for competition, as well as a living, is an art that can be acquired only through experience. It is not anything you will pick up in several days. It is the culmination of all the knowledge that you have attained through different sources such as reading, studying the different breeds of dogs, digesting the Obedience Regulations, conducting frequent practice sessions, observing top handlers in competition, and developing your own style for Obedience competition.

Of course the first requisite is a genuine love for dogs, and if you have that it should follow that you will have the patience and understanding to cope with them. The second requisite is perseverance, for without it you will not get very far. And last but not least you must have a sense of humor, for in obedience trial competition anything can happen.

If you want to learn something you should go to the person who is most qualified to teach it. By qualified I mean he is at the top of his profession because of what he has accomplished personally. The teacher who has made a fine record himself in Obedience is the one who can help you. There are hundreds of Obedience trainers in the country, but most are passing on bits of training advice they have picked up here and there.

With coaching like this you can expect very little consistency and much confusion. The first thing you will notice when you watch a top handler is the relaxed, easy manner in which he controls his dog and the rapport that is evident between the two. The dog will be attentive and responsive to the handler’s firm but soft-spoken commands, the signals will be given with just one hand and arm, and the exercises will be performed very smoothly and skillfully.

The first time you witness this type of handling you will be more impressed with how easy it looks than by anything else. If you haven’t started training you will be quite certain that you could do it yourself – it looked so easy. The first step to becoming a good handler is to train your dog correctly. Good handling is synonymous with expert training. Your voice is important – give the commands in a firm, well-modulated tone and praise your dog in a very pleased tone that rings with sincerity.

When the dog is close to you teach him to respond to commands that are given to him softly. When working away from you, teach him to execute the commands that are given crisply but just loud enough for him to hear. Don’t repeat commands, rather correct him for not paying attention during practice, which should closely replicate the environment you’ll be competiting in. Commonly called, “matches” vs. “trials”.

She Can’t Get A Motivational Correction

Judy writes: “I have a 6 month old Great Dane that I bought a pinch collar to stop bad habits (nipping, jumping up). This worked great for about one week but now it is very difficult to give a ‘motivational’ correction. It’s almost like she’s gotten used to the collar and doesn’t respond to it anymore. This is especially the case when she is on the couch. Sometimes she bites at this time (not hard, but it’s very annoying), and it is impossible to give her a ‘motivational’ correction. Any advice? ”

Dear Judy:

Here’s a blurb from an article I wrote on how to use the pinch collar:

Basics of the Pinch Collar

The pinch collar is designed to replicate the way the mother would correct her pups in a litter. Or similarly, how the Alpha dog in a pack would correct the subordinate dogs… that is, by giving a “nip” on the neck.

The prong collar (also frequently called the pinch collar) is made of a series of prongs that link together.

Most pinch collars are designed pretty much the same: There is a safety ring which rides next to the dog’s neck and a “D” shaped ring that you hook your leash to. Some pinch collar manufacturers have developed “quick release” mechanisms which may work somewhat differently.

A Safe Fit For the Pinch Collar:

In order to properly size and fit the collar, you must do the following:

1.) Understand that size and fit are two different issues. The size is determined by the SIZE of the prong… not the diameter. Sizes usually come in small, medium and large. For dogs up to 40 pounds, a small prong usually works best as you’ll get more “pinch to the inch.” Dogs 40 to 80 pounds will usually need a medium or sometimes a large size prong.

2.) The fit of the collar is determined by adding or subtracting prongs to change the diameter. Simply break the collar open at one of the looser prongs in the middle of the collar and pop off one or more of the individual prongs.

3.) Properly fitted, you should only be able to fit approximately 1/2 finger space between the tip of the prong and the skin of the dog’s neck. Trust me, you won’t be doing your dog any favor if it’s too loose and you have to give 10 times the number of corrections and it’s rubbing and chafing her neck because YOU weren’t using it correctly. Make sure it’s a snug fit… 1/2 finger space!!!

Don’t Teach Your Dog To Be Collar-Smart!

If you put the pinch collar on your dog immediately before training, she’ll become COLLAR-SMART! She’ll respond like a complete angel when the collar is on but like a real devil when the collar is off. So, just like the Alpha dog who always has the ability to correct the subordinate dogs (with her mouth)… so must you! In other words, leave the pinch collar and a tab (1 foot leash or longer) on your dog ANY TIME YOU’RE INTERACTING WITH HER. You’ll know when she’s proofed when you can call me up and bet me $100 because you’re so confident that your dog is responding with 100% reliability. If you take the pinch collar off sooner, you’re running the risk of making her collar-smart!

Specific to answering your question, usually when people tell me this the culprit is one of the following reasons:

– The pinch collar is too loose, and they need to take another link out. In such cases, you should only be able to put 1/2 a finger space between the prong and the skin of the dog’s neck. Sometimes even less.

– When giving the correction, the handler isn’t using slack, but is instead mistakenly pulling the leash tight-to-tighter. It needs to be loose-to-tight-to-loose, in a sharp, snapping tug motion.

– If, after trying all of the above, you’re currently using a medium sized prong collar, I’d suggest going up to the large. Or vice versa.

Sometimes a different sized prong works better on different dogs. However, this is usually a non-issue, as the culprit is HOW the collar is used (see above.)

Good luck,

How To Implement “Distraction Proofing” In Your Dog Training

Distractions are stimuli that may entice your dog to break from command. “Proofing” is exposing your dog to distractions. The purpose is to teach your dog– in a controlled setting– that he
must obey your commands despite whatever is happening nearby.

Taking your dog through every step is mandatory.  But your dog should already be properly socialized to the environment that you expect him to work in.  Always condition at a dog’s real-world level.

During initial exposure to distractions, begin with familiar basics. Using the Down-Stay as an example, start with brief, short-distances, on-leash and not prolonged.  Gradually, work
out-of-sight, as your dog progresses.

As conditioning implies higher-stress situations than those to which your dog is accustomed, start with work in which he’s confident. Complicated obedience can be added as you progress
together, but only after your dog has demonstrated that he thoroughly understands the commands in a distraction-free environment, first.

No distraction should appear threatening.   And lastly, please recognize that during distraction training, you know what’s coming– as well as what’s expected– but your dog doesn’t.
Use this to your advantage!

Dog Training For The Canine Good Citizen Test

One of the main goals of the Canine Good Citizen test is to demonstrate that the handler is in control of the dog under conditions likely to be encountered on an almost daily basis, such as people and dogs engaged in a variety of activities. You will have to demonstrate that your pet responds to the basic commands of Sit and Heel in real-life settings. These conditions are distractions, and five of the ten tests for the Canine Good Citizen involve the dog’s reaction to a distraction.

1. Accepting a friendly stranger requires the dog to allow a stranger to approach the dog’s owner. The evaluator walks up to the dog and owner and greets the owner in a friendly manner, ignoring the dog. They shake hands and exchange pleasantries, during which the dog must show no sign of resentment or shyness, and must not break position to try to go to the evaluator.

2. Sitting politely/or petting – demonstrates that the dog will allow the approach of a stranger and permit petting. With the dog sitting at the owner’s left side throughout the test, the evaluator approaches and pets the dog on the head and body only. The dog must not show shyness or resentment, and the evaluator then circles the dog and owner.

3. Appearance and grooming – requires that the dog can be groomed and examined by a stranger, such as a veterinarian. The evaluator does an examination to determine if the dog is clean and groomed. The dog must appear to be in healthy condition, including the proper weight.

This particular test demonstrates the owner’s care, concern and responsibility for the dog. The evaluator then easily combs or brushes the dog to illustrate the dog’s willingness to be groomed and permit someone other than the owner to do so. In a natural and light manner, the evaluator also examines the ears and gently picks up each front foot. For some reason, many dogs have difficulty with this exercise, and you may have to spend a little extra time getting him used to having his feet handled.

4. Walking through a crowd – requires the dog and owner to walk around and close to several persons-at least three, one of whom may have a dog demonstrating that the dog is conditioned to behave at all times and is under control in public places. The dog may show some interest in the strangers but should continue to walk with the owner without evidence of exuberance, shyness or resentment. The dog should not be straining at the leash.

5. Reaction to another dog requires a demonstration of proper behavior in the presence of other dogs. Two handlers and their dogs approach each other from a distance of about ten yards, stop, shake hands and exchange pleasantries, and continue on about five yards. This is another potentially difficult exercise – many dogs want to say “hello” to the other dog, which is not permitted. Short of practicing with other dogs, a solid Sit-Stay should see you through this exercise successfully.

Eleven Dog Washing Tips

Eleven Dog Washing Tips

1. Sometimes getting a job done is as simple as having the right tools, and bathing your dog is no exception. An indoor pet spray that attaches to your sink faucet or shower head makes bathing your dog easier to manage. The spray is gentle enough for a small dog.

2. If you must bathe your dog indoors, getting him into the tub may be a job in itself, let alone bathing him once he’s there. To help in the effort, purchase a dog bath helper that has a mini lead attached to a suction cup that sticks to the bottom or side of the tub. The suction cup can be easily removed once your dog is squeaky clean.

3. When rinsing the soap from your dog’s coat, use a one part vinegar to four parts water solution to leave his coat shiny and clean.

4. If your dog just doesn’t like the water, use a waterless shampoo that must be applied then lathered into his coat until a foam appears. Brush and towel-dry with a blow-dryer.

5. If you prefer, give your dog a dry bath to remove any odors when it’s too cold to bathe him. Rub some baking soda into your dog’s coat, gently massage it in, then brush it out.

6. To help give a small dog a bath, place a small window screen across the sink in which you want to bathe him. The screen will give your dog something to stand on, and, because the bath and rinse water flow beneath it, will prevent him from having to stand in water.

7. If you want to give your dog some extra help in the self-cleaning department but don’t want to stress him by subjecting him to a bath, use pet cleansing wipes to remove dander and
saliva from his coat. The product, made from all-natural ingredients, leaves your dog’s coat clean and healthy looking.

8. If your dog comes into contact with chewing gum, remove it by rubbing an ice cube on the gum until it hardens and can be pulled out, then wash the area thoroughly.

9. If your dog walks on tar, remove it by rubbing butter or margarine on the tarred area until the tar softens and can be pulled off. Repeat if necessary, then bathe your dog’s feet.

10. If your dog rubs against oil-based paint, wipe it off immediately with a dry cloth, then bathe him. If the paint has dried and hardened, cut it out, then bathe your dog.

11. If your dog doesn’t like the sound of spray conditioner after his bath, spray the conditioner on a brush, then run the brush through his hair.