Where problem dogs are no problem

Friday, December 21, 2012

Prong or Positive Reinforcement?

I had a client come for class last night who mentioned that she had taken her dog to daycare and the daycare owner put a prong collar on her dog to train it.  First of all, her dog is a Doberman puppy.  Prong collars don't belong on puppies.  Secondly, I use positive reinforcement with her dog and now someone else is using compulsive training methods. I believe this will be confusing to the dog.  I'm not sure why the daycare person took it upon herself to train the dog.  I serve three functions here--daycare, boarding and training.  When a dog comes to board here and jumps on me, the owner says I shouldn't let them do that and I should know better because I am a trainer.  I remind them they have not hired me as a trainer but are simply bringing the dog here to board--training is extra.  The same with daycare, the dog is here to be loved and to be socialized with other dogs, I have not been hired to train the dog but to babysit the dog.  Yes, I do correct the dog is it has bad manners but that is all.  Again, training is extra.  I have clients who bring their dogs here to board who go to trainers that have different philosophies than I do and I do not push my training methods on them.  Now on the the prong collar issue.  If a dog is trained from the time it is brought home as a puppy, the training will be much easier as the correct behavior will be the only thing the dog knows.  Unfortunately, most people wait until there is a problem, the biggest being pulling on the leash.  I have been very successful teach all types of dogs, from a Peekapoo to a Great Dane, to not pull on the leash, all without a prong collar.  Having a dog walk next to you is nothing more than a habit for the dog.  It will take time to establish this habit but I promise it can be done.  If you want a quick fix, the prong collar will work.  It will also work to make your dog fear you and become aggressive.  I believe that trainers who resort to prong collars as a first line of defense are trainers who are not creative in learning different methods to train the dogs.  I want my dog to walk by my side because she loves me and wants to, not because she might have physical pain if she doesn't stay close enough.  Emma is my service dog, she is a Landseer Newfoundland.  I got her when she was 6 months old and started training her right away.  She started formal classes at 3 months old.  Emma was trained on a buckle collar, not even a training collar.  She is CGC, TDI and PAT and has 2 legs toward her CD title.  So if you want a stable, well balanced dog, please take the time and do the training and don't look for a quick fix.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

This week's outing

Today we went to PetSmart again.  Apollo does fine in all other stores.  He just has a problem when he sees other dogs.  And today it seemed like it was only small dogs--a pug, a dachshund.  The golden retriever he didn't back at.  So we worked and worked.  Stop barking at the dog, sit and watch me and get a treat.  Over and over.  A couple of times, Apollo actually sat and looked at me instead of barking at the other dog.  Hooray, we are making some real good progress.  He gives me an automatic sit every time I stop walking in the store and will sometimes automatically drop into a down. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Another outing

It was outing day for Apollo today.  He is still having trouble not barking at other dogs in the store but he is getting better.  It is a fear bark as I can see the whites of his eyes and his fur is not raised.  I thought that being part of a pack would help his socialization as he was not socialized by his previouis owner.  People think that if they have another dog, that is socializing the dog.  According to Dr. Dunbar, a puppy needs to see 100 dogs and people before they are 4 months old.  How many dogs do you think see that many?  We went to Super Shoes where there was an adoption clinic.  Apollo was finaolly quiet and his reward was to go greet the other dogs.  One of their dogs was very aggressive towards Apollo but the other one was fine and they did the normal greeting.  Then we went to PetSmart and he did pretty good.  Need to work on "watch" more to redirect his attention, although he can look at me and bark at the other dog at the same time.  Then I took Emma and Apollo to Joann's.  Emma is supposed to be training Apollo and Apollo is better behaved than Emma is.  I guess I'm not strict enough or consistent enough with Emma when my attention is directed elsewhere.  Every time I stopped, Apollo would lay down and wait.  I've been putting a Starmark collar on him but I don't think he needs it anymore.  So ever onward.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Courage arrived last evening around 7:30.  When I picked him up at the airport, he was a little traumatized and didn't want to come out of his kennel.  I took him out, put a leash on him and he was fine, except for the slippery floor at the airport!  We got home and he was introduced to the pack. I let him outside and he didn't want to come in.  It took Apollo, my husband and some beef to be able to get him in the house and then it involved me carrying him in. He made immediate friends with Apollo and they played hard for an hour and a half until they both fell down from exhaustion.  I think Courage has some pent up energy from his long trip.  So that I could get some sleep, I set up a crate for Courage and put him in there to sleep.  He didn't complain at all.  He slept until Apollo woke him up to go out and play at 6:30 this morning.  Courage is much happier this morning.  He went out and played and came in when the rest of the pack came in.  He has bothered Emma some (Courage has not been neutered yet) but she growls and he backs off.  He knows to sit to get a cookie.  I'll get an idea of what else he knows later when I work with him.  He is a very lovable boy and everyone is getting along wonderfully.  I am looking forward to working with him and watching him evolve.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Another trip to PetSmart

Apollo went on another outing to PetSmart today.  He was more successful than the last time but there was only one other dog in the store.  He barks at things, people, birds, when he is in the car.  Today we worked on the quiet command.  I took hotdogs for treats.  My plan was to feed, feed, feed while the other dog was in sight and stop feeding when the other dog disappeared.  Apollo's plan was different.  His plan was woof once, put his butt on the floor and then wait for a hotdog to appear.  He did very good with his plan, however, having the other dog in his sight is still a problem.  Guess I have to come up with another plan.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Second Outing

Apollo went for his second outing in public today.  First we went to PetSmart.  One of the local shelters was having an adoption clinic so I knew there would be dogs there.  Apollo sat and waited by the door until I told him to go in.  As soon as he got in there, he saw another dog and started barking.  I made him sit and be quiet.  We gradually made our way over to the dogs that were up for adoption.  It took a while, but Apollo was finally able to greet them without barking at them.  Hen quickly learned then when he saw another dog, the appropriate behavior was to sit but he still barked a little.  We will need to work on this some more but he did get a new toy for being so good. Then we went to Target.  I took both Emma and Apollo in Target.  Apollo stayed right between me and Emma.  Every time I stopped, Apollo sat.  I was talking to some of the employees about the dogs and Apollo even laid down.  I was hoping Apollo would learn from Emma and Apollo was better behaved today than Emma was!  Now we are trying to get a poodle up here from the south to be trained.  What a great job I have. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Day 28

Thought I should post about Apollo's progress.  Today he is feeling his oats and trying to convince everyone else he is in charge.  He barks and snarls and the other dogs just look at him and walk away.  He is coming along nicely on his training.  He has his basic commands down although he is still a bit reluctant to down, but he is getting better.  His stays are good and we are increasing the distance and time on those.  He has an object that he has been taught to "take it" and "bring it", however, not without some tooth marks and some shaking it around.  He is a very mouthy dog and is having a little trouble with this.  He will go around behind me and sit on command, however, he sits facing me instead of away.  My arms are nowhere near long enough to get that treat out far enough to get him to turn around.  Guess I'll need another human to help me with this.  He needs a lot of work on come, as most dogs do.  I'll be teaching him a really reliable recall that will teach him to come every time he is called.  So all in all, he is doing pretty good.  He is really a very smart dog.