Menoka's Dog Manners Training

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For Sits and Giggles

Posted on March 24, 2014 at 12:37 PM Comments comments (185)
Training should be fun! If you and your pooch aren't enjoying the training then you aren't going to do it. Plain and simple. This is one reason I strive to make my group classes and private lessons fun. Here are a few suggestions to make training your dog a happy experience:

1) Don't train tired or frustrated. If you are not in a good mood then training your dog will likely only frustrate you more. Set your dog up for success.

2) Make sure your dog is hungry (i.e. motivated) and not too tired or too hyper. Find the perfect training moment for your particular dog and pump the training.

3) Take advantage of mealtime. Go through a few training protocols such as come when called, sit, and shake before your dog gets his meal.

4) Use real life rewards to pump the training. Make your dog sit then do a trick before he goes outside or gets a toy or before a walk. 

5) Incorporate trick training into basic manners training (obedience training). Roll over, spin, moonwalk, high five, and crawl are all great examples of tricks. Tricks lighten the mood and keep everyone happy.

6) Train in short spurts. Five minutes three times a day is far more effective and enjoyable than trying to practice in a 30 minute training session.

7) Don't be afraid to Reset. If your dog is struggling with a particular cue then take it off the table and pump a few cues that your dog knows well then reintroduce the new cue again.

8) Use games to practice. For example practice come when called using hide in seek or practice drop it while playing fetch. 

*The key is to always set you and your dog up for success. Frustration is the enemy. Keep it fun guys and you will see the difference. Your attitude is directly linked to your dog's success.  

Teenage Wasteland

Posted on February 11, 2014 at 1:23 PM Comments comments (108)

Awe the adolescent phase. Every dog goes through it. It can vary in severity from barely noticeable to feeling like the dog from Marley AND Me just possessed your dog. Adolescence usually starts between 6 months and 1 year and lasts for a few months. Luckily it comes and goes. Your dog may be ornery for a week then return to your loving companion for a week then the orneriness returns and then disappears again. In the interest of full disclosure, ornery may be sugar coating it a bit. What you’re likely to experience is major attitude no different than a rebellious teenager. For example, you have trained your dog to know how to sit. You ask your dog to sit before getting a treat. Instead of sitting your dog looks at you with a defiant look that says “no, I don’t think I feel like listening to you right now”. He completely ignores you and walks away. You stand there dumbfounded and think “oh no he didn’t”. Well I’m sorry to tell you but oh yes he did! And this is only the beginning. No doubt about it, it takes patience on your part and continually reminding yourself that there is light at the end of the tunnel. And yes, there is without a doubt light at the end of the adolescent stage. Your dog will return to your sweet obedient love nugget and it will be practically overnight. Yeah! But here’s how you can help your dog get through this stage: 1) Get your dog into a “positive reinforcement” training program. 2) Be consistent with your dog. 3) Stay calm and don’t show your frustration. Being overly emotional is a sign of weakness to your dog. Overly emotional responses include angry responses such as yelling or screaming, throwing items, and slamming doors. 4)  DON”T HIT YOUR DOG! Being physical with your dog can cause irreparable damage to your relationship with your dog. 5)  Do not free feed your dog. Feed your dog 1-3 times a day and pick the food up after 15 minutes no matter if there is still food in it or not. 6)  Ask your dog to sit for anything he wants whether it’s treats, toys, a walk, a car ride, or his meal. 7)  Reward the good your dog does at every opportunity to help reinforce the behavior you want your dog to repeat. *But most importantly just know this is a phase. Your dog hasn’t changed permanently. He will return to the wonderful dog you first fell in love with so be patient and kind. You will both get through it.

Congrats on your new dog! But there's something you should know....

Posted on February 5, 2014 at 3:07 PM Comments comments (128)

The Honeymoon Period: the honeymoon period is the timeframe from when you brought your dog home until he has adjusted to his new surroundings. It usually last from 2 weeks to 3 months. During this time your dog is basically being a wallflower. He is standing back and sizing up the joint. Adjusting to a new home can be a happy but often stressful time for a dog. It’s a lot to take in, new people, new home, and new rules. The dog isn’t quite sure what is expected from him so he stays on his best behavior. Once the dog has acclimated, the confidence to be himself emerges. He may even start pushing the boundaries to see what he can get away with. This is when people get worried because they think the dog has suddenly changed from calm and submissive to an unruly dog they don’t know how to manage. So what can you do to minimize the aftermath of the honeymoon period and make the transition easier for your new dog? 1) Set up a routine. A routine will give the dog a sense of security. He needs to know what and when to expect things like his mealtimes, potty breaks, play sessions, and bedtime. His body will adjust to the schedule and his mind will follow. Consistency equals a feeling of safety for a dog. 2) Start training your dog. Get your dog into an obedience class, hire a personal trainer, or train him yourself. Just make sure you train through positive reinforcement. This means focusing on what he does right rather than scolding him for what he does wrong. Praising him for the behaviors you do want will make those behaviors more prominent resulting in the unwanted behaviors to fade. This doesn’t mean you can’t give a verbal interruption when you “catch” him doing something wrong. It is appropriate to let your dog know a behavior is incorrect but yelling, hitting, etc. are unacceptable especially with a new dog or a shelter dog whose past you don’t fully know. Training also puts you in the leadership role with your new dog. It is important for your dog to understand who the top dog in the house is….you! Your dog should learn to offer a behavior such as “sit” or “high five” to get the things in life he wants such as a toy or a treat. This will establish a good relationship with your dog and a pattern of clear communication. 3) Exercise your dog. Remember a tired dog is a good dog! Understanding the honeymoon period will help you expect a change in your new dog and not be taken off guard. Follow these simple suggestions and the transition from the honeymoon period should be  seamless for both you and your dog.

To Catch a Dog

Posted on May 25, 2013 at 11:49 AM Comments comments (85)
This week I found a dog that had been lost for over a week from a local shelter. After getting a tip where she might be, I headed up there with treats in hand. She was spotted going into a heavily wooded area. So once I got there I called her name and threw treats into the woods. I threw some far enough back that she could feel safe getting them and then made a trail back out of the woods so she would hopefully follow it until she could be seen. I didn't know if she was in there but I relied on my gut which told me she could hear me calling her name. I did this for about 90 mins hoping she would surface. I then left hoping she would feel safe enough to come out of the woods. Ten minutes later I came back and immediately saw her from a distance. As soon as I saw her I dropped to the ground as not to intimidate her. I wanted to make myself small and also be on her level. I began throwing treats near her but not at her and calling her name with a soft sweet voice (baby-talk). She started to approach me hesitantly with her head lowered and I actually laid on the ground flat at this point and kept talking to her. I never made a gesture "towards" her but instead enabled her to feel safe to come to me. And to the delight of me and many others who had been worried about her for over a week, she did. I am happy to report she is now safe and sound and being spoiled at the shelter where she currently resides. So if your dog ever runs off or you see a dog that needs help and appears lost or confused, please be cautious not to chase the dog. Do whatever you can to allow the dog to feel safe enough to come to you. I have had to do this technique several times now and to great success. So again....don't chase and don't be intimidating. Do be calm and soft so the dog will feel safe to approach. If it is your dog and it does come to you willingly then for heaven's sake do not punish it or your dog will never come to you again.

Out with the old and in with the new

Posted on April 26, 2013 at 11:31 AM Comments comments (94)
Unfortunately I still see choke chains on a regular basis. I do not look at these owners and judge them. I believe if they knew there was a more humane way to keep their dogs from pulling on leash they would happily use it. That being said, choke chains and pinch collars "are" inhumane. At the very least they cause severe discomfort and at most great pain to the dog. They can also damage the dog's throat and that damage can be irreparable. But there is good news! On the market today is a harness that trainers swear by. Why? Because it works!!! This harness pulls from the chest area. Looks just like a normal harness but the hook for the leash is in the front of the dog's body. Leading your dog from this angle allows you to have greater control of your dog. Each time I have put this harness on a dog who pulls it has reduced the pulling by 75% no matter the size or breed. Miracle product? I believe so.
Those of you still using choke or pinch collars, have a dog who pulls, or just would prefer a harness that is comfortable to your dog, looks stylish, and teaches your dog you are their leader then please run out today and find a harness that pulls from the front chest area of your dog.  You will be amazed at the results!