Tips for Using a Great Food Treat During Training

One of the things I stumbled on this week was Kraft Natural Cheese “Cubes”… the ‘mild cheddar’ variety. You can buy these at any grocery store. They come in packages of 50 cubes, and usually cost approximately $2.49. I’m finding that even finicky dogs love these things! You may be thinking, “Big deal! Some thing new to feed your dog!” — Which is just the attitude I would expect from a Rottweiler owner, or anyone else who owns a dog with a strong food drive! But when you have a dog that is generally NOT food motivated… and then you find something like this that DOES motivate your dog… you’ve just picked up a new tool that can make a world of difference in your dog’s training. In brief, you’ll want to incorporate food in your training as a motivator, rather than a bribe. In other words, to:

1.) Get your dog to understand a new exercise faster, during the ‘learning phase’ of training.

2.) To reduce stress, like when introducing new obstacles during agility training.

3.) To perk up working attitude in a dog that looks droopy when he does exercises. (I’d incorporate the ball drive, too… if the dog’s ball drive is stronger than his food drive).

More Tips For Training Your Dog To Come On Command

Training Your Dog To Come When Called! One of the greatest joys of owning a dog is to be able to go for a walk in the park and let him run, knowing he will come when you call. Dogs that do not come when called are prisoners of the leash and, if loose, a danger to themselves and others. If your dog does not come when called, you don’t have a reliable dog. Below are five tips to help you teach this command to your pet:

1. Exercise. Many dogs do not come when called because they do not get enough physical exercise. When they do get the chance, they run off and make the most of it by staying out for hours at a time. Every morning your dog wakes up with plenty of energy and the need to exercise. If that energy is not used up, it will transform itself into other behaviors, the most common of which are barking, chewing, digging, and running away or not coming when called. Consider what your dog was bred to do, and that will tell you how much exercise is needed. A few turns around the backyard is not enough. You will need to participate. Also keep in mind that taking the dog for a daily walk or jog is as good for you as it is for him!

2. Be nice to your dog whenever he comes to you. One of the quickest ways to teach your dog not to come to you is to call him and then when he comes, punish or do something he perceives as unpleasant. Many dogs consider being given a bath unpleasant. When he needs one, go get him instead of calling him to you. Another example of unintentionally teaching your dog not to come is to go for a run in the park and call him to you when it’s time to go home. Repeating this sequence several times teaches the dog that fun is over! Soon, he may become reluctant to return to you when called because he is not yet ready to end the fun. You can prevent this kind of unintentional training by calling him to you several times during the outing, sometimes giving him a treat, sometimes just a pat on the head, and then letting her play again.

3. Teach your dog to come when called as soon as you bring him home, no matter how young he is. Ideally, you acquired your pet as a puppy, which is the best time to teach him to come when called. Start right away. But remember, sometime between the fourth and eighth months of age, your puppy will begin to realize that there is a big world out there. While going through this stage, it is best to keep him on leash so that he does not learn to ignore you when you call.

4. When in doubt, keep your dog on leash. Learn to anticipate when he is likely not to come. You may be tempting fate trying to call once he has spotted a cat, another dog or a jogger. Of course, there will be times when you make a mistake and let him go just as another dog appears out of nowhere. Resist the urge to say “Come” over and over again. The more often you holler “Come,” the quicker he learns to ignore you when off leash. Instead, patiently go and put him on leash. Do not get angry once you have caught him or he will become afraid of you. He will then run away when you try to catch him the next time.

5. Make sure that your dog always comes to you and lets you touch the collar before you reward with a praise or a treat. Touching the collar prevents the dog from developing the annoying habit of playing “Catch” which means coming toward you and then dancing around you, just out of reach.

Is Dog Training Causing Your Dog Stress?

Stress is the body’s response to any physical or mental demand. The response prepares the body to either fight or flee. It increases blood pressure, heart rate, breathing and metabolism, and there is a marked increase in the blood supply to the arms and legs. It is a physiological, genetically predetermined reaction over which the individual, whether a dog or a person, has no control.

When your dog is stressed, his body becomes chemically unbalanced. To deal with this imbalance, the body releases chemicals into the bloodstream in an attempt to rebalance itself. The reserve of these chemicals is limited. You can dip into it only so many times before it runs dry and the body loses its ability to rebalance. Prolonged periods of imbalance result in neurotic behavior and the inability to function.

Your dog experiences stress during training, whether you are teaching him a new exercise or practicing a familiar one. You should be able to recognize the signs of stress and what you can do to manage the stress your dog may experience. Only then can you prevent stress from adversely affecting your dog’s performance during training.

Stress is characterized as “positive” (manifesting itself in increased activity) and “negative” (manifesting itself in decreased activity). Picture yourself returning home after a hard day at work. You are welcomed by a mess on your new, white rug. What is your response? Do you explode, scream at your dog, your children and then storm through the house slamming doors? Or, do you look at the mess in horror, shake your head in resignation, feel drained of energy, ignore the dog and the children and then go to your room? In the first example, your body was energized by the chemicals released into the bloodstream. In the second example, your body was debilitated.

Dogs react in a similar manner, and stress triggers either the fight or flight response. Positive stress manifests itself in hyperactivity, such as running around, bouncing up and down or jumping on you, whining, barking, mouthing, getting in front of you or anticipating commands. You may think your dog is just being silly and tiresome, but for the dog, those are coping behaviors. Negative stress manifests itself by lethargy, such as freezing, slinking behind you, running away or responding slowly to a command. In new situations, he seems tired and wants to lie down, or sluggish and disinterested. These are not signs of relaxation, but are the coping behaviors for negative stress.

Signs of either form of stress in dogs are muscle tremors, excessive panting or drooling, sweaty feet that leave tracks on dry, hard surfaces, dilated pupils and, in extreme cases, urination or defecation, usually in the form of diarrhea and self-mutilation. Behaviors such as pushing into you or going in front of or behind you during distraction training are stress related.