Home alone

With our busy lifestyle these days, a lot of dogs often spend extended periods of time home alone. A lot of the problems we are seeing are due to a lack of mental and physical stimulation.
Dogs are social animals and it is important that you spend quality time with your dog each day. They should go for at least one walk a day (30 to 40 minutes at least) and if possible two walks are even better. It is also important to do a couple of training sessions each day and a visit to the dog park (if your dog likes other dogs) once or twice a week. This is in addition to your daily interaction with your dog.
You should also make sure that there is no danger to your dog or others in any of these activities.

Toys and more toys
There are many interactive toys on the market that are designed to keep your dog occupied when home alone. Rotate them on a daily basis otherwise your dog will get bored very quickly.

Less free feeding
Make your dog work for part of their food, hide it in the backyard, or put it in a toy or a Kong.

School run
Take your dog for a ride when you make short trips to the school to drop off the kids. It offers a change of scenery and when you have time take them to the coffee shop.

Place suitable scraps of food in an ice-cream container or Kong, fill with water and freeze. You can also use chicken stock which is a great idea for hot summer days.

A sand pit
Some dogs like digging. Provide an area where your dog can dig or use a children’s clam shell pool as a sandpit. Hide bones, treats and toys to encourage digging in this area.

Wading Pool
Get a shallow plastic children’s clam and make sure your dog can easily get out! You can also put some of the floating toys in there.

Treat balls
These are another great toy where you can place dried food.

Plastic bottles
Remove the bottle top and the plastic ring for safety and fill it with dried food so that your dog has to work to get it out.
Treasure Hunt
Hide the stuffed kong or other toys in the backyard or sprinkle breakfast onto the lawn.

Dog walker
Consider a good dog walker if you are out all day.

Stay with friends
If you have friends with compatible dogs, maybe your dog can spend one day a week at their place and vice versa.

Doggy Door
If your dog has access to the house they might spend much of the day inside, feeling safe and secure and asleep.

More ideas:
• Start a dog sport like agility, doggie dancing, obedience etc.
• Consider a dog day care
• Timed food dispenser
• Leave the radio on
• Pigs ears/roo flaps etc
• Work for food, no food bowl
• Off leash exercise
• Companion dog (not yours)
• Neighbours’ visit
NB. Some of these ideas may not be suitable for you and your dog so be careful and always supervise your dog the first couple of times when introducing something new. Be sensible when choosing the best options for your dog.

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House training

Your puppy needs to go to the toilet:
• After a sleep
• After a play
• 15 to 20 minutes after a meal
• Every hour in between

You have to reward every time your puppy goes to the toilet until they are completely housetrained. Once you have not had an accident for 4 to 6 weeks you can start phasing out the treats.

It is best to take the puppy to the same area every time (make sure it is clean! They do not like soiled areas). Once the puppy does eliminate quickly put a cue to it (quick or wee wee or similar) and once finished give them a treat.

Keep some treats in this area. Please don’t be stingy, it works much better if you are generous with your rewards. Yes praise or play works but food works much better.
Then have a little play so that they have some fun outdoors but not at 2 am!
It might be better to keep the puppy on the leash to start with. It is also better to lure and make them walk out instead of carrying them. It can also help to walk with them to get a bit of bowel movement going.

If the puppy makes a mistake under no circumstance punish them. They will think that they gets punished for what they are doing not where they are going. They will be scared of you and refuse to go to the toilet in front of you. This will make for a long wait in the back yard at night, when it is cold or raining!

It is important to stay with them outside and see them going to the toilet, otherwise they might just have a bit of fun in the yard, come back in and toilet in the living area.

As long as your puppy is not house trained they should not be unsupervised in the house. Set up a confinement area for them (crate or playpen with some newspapers) if you cannot supervise.

If you find puddles and poos in the house it is a sure sign that your puppy has too much free range. This will make toilet training much harder as your house starts to smell and look like a toilet.

Do not use ammonia based cleaners but enzyme based ones.

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Loose leash walking – This is a difficult concept!

Imagine two different species, one two legged, one four legged, one sniffs, one watches and they are trying to walk down the street together at the same pace.

The dogs do not get it and most owners don’t get it either.

Before you start you will need a few things: a flat collar, a front clip harness, treats, patience and a bit of spare time. It does not matter on which side your dog walks, I would actually teach both sides.

We will teach the heel position first as the dog will not understand the concept of a loose leash.

To get going:
• Teach the heel position first, teach it on both sides.
• Put the leash in your right hand, the dog is on your left side. The leash connects to the dog and should be slack in front of you. Have a handful of treats in your left hand. When you change sides, leash in left hand and dog on your right etc.
• You are making the position on your left knee a high reward zone.
• Get attention, ask for a sit, step off and lure the dog into the correct position this is traditionally on the left side, next to your knee. However this is really your choice. As soon as the dog is in this position, say “yes” or click and reward.
• Repeat and gradually increase your criterion, reward after two steps, three steps, seven, ten etc
• Do short sessions on your walks.
• Practice without leash in the backyard .
• If your dog pulls, stop, ask him/her to come back to the correct position, do a few steps and reward.

Once you start teaching ‘heel’ you cannot change the goal posts for your dog. This means that if you cannot insist on a loose leash but still have to walk the dog you need to change something in the setup, otherwise you are confusing the dog. I recommend using a flat collar if you train heel/walking on a loose leash but use a front clip harness if you are not training and accept a bit of pulling or lagging.

Once your dog gets the heel position; gradually start relaxing criterion and let your dog walk a bit ahead, behind etc as long as there is not tension on the leash. If the dog pulls, stop, ask him to come back into the heel position, and reward after a couple of steps in the right position.

The most common problems are:
• Too low reinforcement rate, in the beginning you have to reward every step. Loose leash walking is boring and difficult for both of you!
• You then have to up criterion very quickly.
• Walking in straight lines. If you walk a straight line the dog is very likely to surge ahead. Try walking curves or figures of eight.
• Session is too long; keep it short and sweet.
• Reward for coming back into the correct position. If your dog pulls and you ask him/her to come back into the position and then reward, you will get a yo-yo action. Dog pulls, dog comes back because you are rewarding the coming back rather than the correct position. You have to get the dog to walk for a couple of steps in the right position before your reward.
• Walking on a tight leash. If you hold the leash tight, the dog thinks that is what you want. You need a loose leash.
• Relaxing criterion too early; the dog has to understand the heel position as a high reward zone first.
By the way, do you know why we walk the dogs traditionally on the left? It is a left over from the military training; holding the gun in the right hand so the dog has to walk on the left.

Have fun and a little bit of patience!

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Lure, Reward? – How the system works

A lure is a piece of food or toy that guides the dog into a specific position – lure is food/toy before behaviour.
A reward is something the dog wants (food, toy, pat, voice, play etc) after the dog has done the behaviour you asked for. Reward is after the behaviour.

Lure method.
You put a piece of food in front of the dog’s mouth and guide the head eg up and over the head to get the dog to sit. We only lure a few times (for a sit maybe 3 times), then we take the food out of our luring hand but make the same movement, if the dog sits the reward comes from the other hand.
Once the dog does this about 80 % of the time correctly change to an intermittent reinforcement schedule.

Shaping check http://drsophiayin.com/resources/video_full/how_dogs_learn_shaping_zoe_into_a_box for a good example or try it yourself using the way we showed you how to teach shake.
• Reward the behaviour that you want
• A behaviour that gets rewarded becomes more frequent and longer in duration, a behaviour that gets ignored disappears
• Set him/her up for success
• Keep in mind dogs do not generalise well, you will have to train everything in different contexts and environments
• Once he/she knows a behaviour switch from luring to prompting (food not in your hand any more). Once she performs a behaviour reliably on cue (80 to 90 %) switch to a variable reinforcement schedule (every 2nd, 3rd, 5th etc) but still reward occasionally, otherwise the behaviour will disappear
• If you cannot ignore try: interrupt (with her name), redirect (get her to do an incompatible behaviour for example sit when she jumps up) and reward the desired behaviour
• Do not just say no (some dogs think their name is no) or make a noise as you are not giving enough information on what you want, you also will not get a behaviour you can reward

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Puppy Socialization

Socialization means introducing your puppy to the world in a positive way so that they become a confident, outgoing and well adjusted dog. The most critical time is between 6 and 16 weeks but the socialisation window may be open until about 5 months of age The earlier you start the better.

Most aggression issues are a result of ineffective socialisation.
• Socialisations means a positive experience. You should never force or overwhelm your puppy, you should proceed at your puppy’s pace. Let the puppy decide to approach or retreat.
• Generalisation: Dogs do not generalise well so you need to expose your puppy to the same stimulus in different locations and environments.
• Pair the stimulus with a treat to make the association positive. If your puppy is not eating this is a good indication that your puppy is overwhelmed.

Meeting the same people or same dog in the same situation, for example an older dog at home, is not socialisation it is just habituation.
Socialization is not just for puppies you have to keep going with your juvenile dog
and keep taking them to different places daily until they are about 6 months, then two to three times a week until 12 months and then once a week until about 3 years.

Check list:
Places Sounds People Surfaces Animals Husbandry
Shopping malls Sirens Old and young Grass Puppies Holding and cuddling
Streets and parks Power tools Hats, sunglasses, helmets Floor boards Adult male and female dogs Tick check (entire body: paws, teeth, muzzle, tail, between pads….
Crowed places Cars, motorbikes, With crutches and wheelchairs Grates Cats Nail clipping
Parking lots Thunder Prams Dirt Kittens Brushing/grooming
House hold noises (door bell, knocking, cooking, discussions, laughing….) Children all ages with skateboards, skates and rollers Carpet Pocket pets
Radio TV Tiles Horses
Farm animals

This is not complete, depending on your personal situation you might need to socialise with different things.

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See you later baby! Or how to train a great recall

For some dogs come means run as far away as you possibly can and if possible migrate to the next country, well the next dog park. These dogs have learned coming back means we are going home and the end of the fun.
Of all the basic cues to teach your dog coming back is probably the most important and sometimes the most difficult one. Coming back under all circumstances always has many benefits and can avoid real problems, such as being run over by a car, a confrontation with another dog, meeting a snake or just a kid that is scared of dogs.
Dogs do not come back because the world out there is very rewarding and the off leash time is often the best part of the day!
However, it is possible and very rewarding to teach your dog to come back if you stick to some basic rules:
• Teach the dog what come means
• Make it worthwhile for your dog
• Manage the environment and prevent self-reinforcing
• If you are in the dog park let him go again
• Never ever punish or rouse on a dog that does not come back straight away (even after 2 hours)

Teach the dog what come means
Take a piece of food or a toy, show it to the dog and move backwards whilst saying “come”. As soon as the dog catches up to you give him the treat/toy. You are associating the word ‘come’ with the dog moving towards you in a position close to you for the reward. At the same time as giving the reward hold your dog gently on the collar. This is a safety measure to get your hands on your dog in an emergency. You also don’t want a ‘drive by dog’, ie a dog that comes, takes the treat and takes off again. Once the dog understands what ‘come’ means, call the dog between family members in the house or the backyard and make it a really great game. You then take this game to a slightly more distracting environment like a fenced dog park at low traffic times.

Make it worthwhile for your dog
You have to figure out what is most rewarding for your dog, a specific squeaky toy, some really nice treats, a play with you, or a cuddle. Once you have figured this out reserve this special reward for coming back so that the dog only gets it when he comes back. Do not phase out the reward and don’t be stingy, a pat on the head will not cut it. A jackpot improves motivation (one treat after the other, not a handful).

Manage the environment and prevent self reinforcing
In the early stages you will have to manage the environment very carefully. Work with long leashes or in fenced off areas. Then gradually make it more difficult.

If you are in the dog park let her go again
If you are in the dog park call your dog every 4 or 7 minutes with a happy voice, give him/her a really nice treat or have a quick play but then let them go again. Coming back should not mean the end of the fun. Also reward when your dog is checking in with you ie comes to you when he/she hasn’t been called.
Never ever punish or rouse on a dog who does not came back
Even if it took you 2 hours to get your dog to come back to you, you have to reward them for coming back. If you punish your dog it will only set back your training. Your dog just showed you that you have to improve your training.

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The Basics – Sit, Watch me, Touch, Doggie Zen and Quiet on cue

Sit: Give the verbal cue and hand signal at the same time. The hand signal is lifting your hand, palm facing up in front of the dogs nose (as if you lured with a treat in front of the nose). Once the bottom hits the floor say “yes” and reward. If you are using a clicker, then click and reward. We try to keep them seated for a few seconds if possible. The ‘sit’ should be a stationary behaviour, it is not bum on the floor and then straight up again.

Watch me: This can be done with the dog sitting facing you. It can also be done standing or lying down but sitting is best. Say “watch me” whilst bringing the treat past the dogs nose and up to your eyes. As soon as the dog gives eye contact, say “yes” or click and then treat. Then gradually ask for longer eye contact before rewarding.

Touch: Present your hand about 10cm in front of the dog’s nose, usually the dog will touch your hand. As soon as the dog touches, say “yes” or click and reward. Be careful that you do not move your hand towards the dog to touch his/her nose. The idea is to get your dog to move towards your hand to ‘touch’. . If he/she does not do it, take your hand away and represent it.

Doggy Zen: This is not so much a cued behaviour but more of a relaxing exercise. You show the dog the treat, you put your hand with the treat to the right, about arm’s length away from your eyes on eye level. You then wait until the dog takes the eyes off the treat and looks at you. You must not say anything. Once you get eye contact, say “yes” or click and reward. In the beginning you reward for every glance!

Quiet on cue: When your dog barks, or even when she does not, get a treat, show it to your dog, put the finger in front of you lips, say “quiet” and when the dog is quiet give her the treat. Repeat this exercise. You have to make sure that there are 5 seconds between the barking and the treat. Otherwise you might reward the barking by mistake.

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Where will your puppy sleep?

The best practice these days is a crate next to your bed to start with.

Get a crate that suits your puppy’s size. They should be able to stand up, turn around and stretch out comfortably. If you get a wire crate, cover it with a blanket so it is comfortable and snuggly and put in a comfy but not very expensive bed (they might destroy it).

Throw a few treats in so that the puppy can explore and if they are comfortable give them something to chew on in the crate. During the day you should not lock the door until they are fully crate trained. For more information on crate training…….

At night, put the crate next to your bed or sleep with the puppy in a spare bedroom. Do not put the puppy in the laundry on their own, they need to learn to sleep alone but this is not going to happen over night. By leaving them isolated you will create a puppy that is scared of being left alone and letting them cry themselves to sleep will cause a feeling of abandonment and potentially causes a separation issue.

Make sure the puppy has been to the toilet and put them in the crate with a chew, a bit like a dummy, and he should go to sleep in no time. If the puppy vocalizes, put your hand in so they know you are there. They should go back to sleep unless they need to go to the toilet. If they do not settle, take them out, reward for going to the toilet and put them back to bed.

Once they sleep through the night start moving the crate very gradually towards its final position. Within a few weeks your puppy should be able to sleep alone in a room of your house.

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