You Don’t Need Treats Forever: How To Give Your Dog A Gambling Problem

Posted on March 13, 2013Categories Animal Behavior, Common Mistakes Owners Make, Dogs, Training MethodsTags , , , , , , , , , , ,

Are You Hooked On Treats?

photo credit to Elf

When we come to your home and say that we want to teach your dog to sit, lie down, stay, and heel (as well as play dead, close your cupboard doors, ring a bell to go outside, spin in a circle, fetch your keys, jump over your leg and so on…), the first thing we will do is ask you to bring out the high value treats.

Many owners are reluctant to give their dogs treats.

They know too many people (maybe including themselves!) who have dogs who will ONLY obey if they have a treat in their hand.

No one wants to bribe their dog into being obedient.

Nor should you.

What you do want is a dog who obeys you eagerly each and every time you give a command.

How do you do that?

By giving your dog a gambling problem.

Let us take you through the process one step at a time:

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Deconstructing Dominance: The Science Behind Wag The Dog

Posted on September 29, 2012April 25, 2021Categories 100 Reasons To Love Wag The Dog, Animal Behavior, Common Mistakes Owners Make, Dogs, Training MethodsTags , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Is Your Dog Fighting For Dominance?

Perhaps one of the most commonly touted tenets of dog training is “be the leader”.

Whether the family dog is jumping up, growling, biting, or tugging at the leash, owners are advised by professionals and dog hobbyists alike to “lead the pack”.

It sounds good, and it’s an easy line for lay people to take – “Oh, your dog is misbehaving? You need to be the pack leader and be more dominant.”

Advice for how to do to do this usually involves things like going through doors first, eating first,  or turning your dog upside down, all of which are supposed to mimic the behaviour of wolves in the wild.

People think that they shouldn’t sleep with their dog, shouldn’t let him on the furniture, and shouldn’t share their table scraps.

When we meet a new client, we often listen to embarrassed confessions of doing all these things… and then we surprise them by telling them the truth: If you don’t mind your dog on the bed, it’s not a problem. You won’t create a struggle for power if your dog cuddles with you on the sofa in the evenings.

Yes, if you want your dog listen to you and respond to you, you certainly need to be the leader in the relationship. But that doesn’t mean you need to dominate your dog.

The Science Behind Dominance

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Can Your Child Walk The Dog?

Posted on July 25, 2012Format VideoCategories 100 Reasons To Love Wag The Dog, Dogs, Kids and Pets, VideosTags , , , , , , , ,

Walking safely on leash is one of the most important forms of controlling your dog.

A dog who tugs and pulls at the leash is not only annoying, but a danger to himself and others. Even a small dog can yank a leash out of his unsuspecting owner’s fingers and dash in front of a car. A large dog can do the same, but can also pull his owner right into the road with him. Owners of large dogs can have their fingers broken when their dog lunges at the leash unexpectedly, and may be pulled right off of their feet.

Photo credit to Tobyotter

The pulling-on-the-leash problem becomes even more serious in a family situation. A pregnant woman is precarious on her feet at the best of times, especially in wet winter weather. A pulling dog is simply an accident waiting to happen. Children also love to walk the family dog, but again, even a small dog can pull a child right over.

At Wag The Dog, we teach the entire family to control the family dog safely.

While children and dogs should always be supervised when together, it is entirely possible to teach them to play and interact in a safe and controlled manner. When you have taught both child and dog how to handle each other properly, the bond between them can be a truly heart warming thing to witness.

Some dog trainers refuse to work with child handlers, requiring an adult to handle the dog in training classes.

Not at Wag The Dog. We love to include children in the dog training process.

Even children under the age of two can be involved.

In the following video, 21 month old William participates in training the family dog to walk nicely on a leash with him:

If you are looking forward to doing the same thing at home, there are a few training pre-requisites that your dog and child must be able to meet:

Dog

  • Knows “leave it”
  • Good on-leash skills with an adult handler
  • Gentle at taking treats
  • Good off-leash control

Child

  • Knows not to eat dog treats
  • Enjoys giving treats to the dog
  • Understands the concept of walking the dog
  • Follows single step instructions, like “walk over there” or “give the dog the cookie”

The best part about teaching a dog to walk nicely on leash with a child is that it boosts the bond between them. Dogs tend to get the upper hand over toddlers, snatching food from their hands and bowling them over when they are excited. When the leash is handed to a small child, the dog tends to treat the child as nothing more than a post that he has been tied to, and he quickly finds out that he can pull free of the post.

Training the dog to respond to the child’s instructions helps establish the child as “dominant” over the dog, and the frequent use of cookie rewards motivates the dog to follow the child.

How To Train A Dog To Be Walked By A Child:

The most important part of this process is starting the training off-leash.

If the dog learns how easy it is to pull the leash free from the child’s hands, he is rewarded for his efforts and more likely to do that again. If the dog pulls the child over, the child may be hurt, and safety is key in any dog training exercise!

Instead, start in a fenced yard or in the house, and have the dog choose to follow the child for the sake of frequent treat rewards. You can attach a command to that, such as “follow Susie” or (as in the video example) “Go with Will”. The dog begins to feel that he is choosing to stay close to the child as he or she walks around, and there is no opportunity to learn bad habits.

Only once the behaviour is well established do you want to actually try tying the dog to the child.

Incidentally, this is the best way to train any dog to heel nicely on-leash: start off-leash!

Remember that small children should always be supervised when walking or playing with the family dog, and that safety begins with teaching both child AND dog how to behave well around each other.

This exercise works on both, which is why we love it so much!

Photo Credit to JustycinMD

With a little work, you can help start a long and beautiful friendship. 

For more great tips on dog training, visit Wag The Dog often or follow us on Facebook. 

If you live in the Vancouver area and would like us to come to your home and help you in person, please don’t hesitate to email us at team@wagthedog.ca or by phone: 604-781-8448

Solve Your Dog’s Behavior Problem With One Easy Step

Posted on May 13, 2012Categories 100 Reasons To Love Wag The Dog, Animal Behavior, DogsTags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

We see dogs with a variety of behavior problems:

  • Anxiety
  • Aggression
  • Barking
  • Destructive Behavior

and many more.

All of these problems require different approaches, and every dog requires his or her own unique set of steps to achieve a solution.

But there is one thing that almost all of our cases have in common:

Exercise.

Many of the dogs we see are under exercised. Others dogs get a lot of one kind of exercise but not enough of another.

One of the first steps we always take to approaching any behavior problem is to increase the exercise and to balance the KINDS of exercise the dog is getting.

We often find that many times, this in itself is the most effective step towards solving the problem. Quite frequently, this is the ONLY necessary step.

Is your dog getting enough of the right kinds of exercise?

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Common Mistakes Dog Owners Make: Coming When Called

Posted on February 2, 2012Categories Animal Behavior, Common Mistakes Owners Make, Dogs, Training MethodsTags , , , , , , ,

In this series we will discuss some of the most common errors made by dog owners, and how to address them.

Training The Dog To Run Away When Called

This seems like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many pet owners accidentally train their dog to run away from them!

Coming when called should always be a happy occasion.

Once your dog is off-leash, the only control you have over him is your past history of rewarding him for returning to you. If you have not built this history strongly enough, then reclaiming your dog may be quite a challenge.

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5 Clicker Training Myths

Posted on January 31, 2012Categories Dogs, Training MethodsTags , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Clicker Training can be a controversial topic in the dog training world. Some trainers heartily endorse it as a positive and fast way to interact with your dog, while others call it “bribery” and accuse clicker trainers of being unable to deal with behavior problems effectively.

What is Clicker Training?

“Clicker Training” is another term for “Using A Conditioned Reinforcer To Positively Reinforce Desired Behaviors.” Most people find that “Clicker Training” rolls off the tongue more easily.

All it means is that you teach your pet to recognize a unique sound (such as a distinctive click) to indicate that he has earned a treat. You use this sound to clearly communicate to your pet that he has done something right.

At Wag The Dog, we incorporate many different training styles, but we recommend it to all our clients as an excellent tool to add to their training toolbox. When we do this, we usually have to help bust certain common misunderstandings about this outstandingly useful training method.

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That Was Easy! How To Train Your Dog To Push A Button

Posted on January 26, 2012Categories Dogs, Great Tricks, Training MethodsTags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Watch as our trainer Carol Millman demonstrates how quick and easy it can be to teach your dog a new skill in a matter of minutes!

Using clicker training, she trains her Sheltie, Odin, to push a button with his nose in a single 5 minute session. The video footage is one continuous take to prove that we aren’t using any editing tricks.

If you live in Greater Vancouver, the Tri-Cities, or the Fraser Valley of BC and you would like your dog to be able to learn great tricks like this one,

email us at team@wagthedog.ca or BOOK NOW on-line!

 

Yes, your dog CAN be this awesome.

What Dog Trainers Don’t Want You To Know:

Posted on December 16, 2011Categories Animal Behavior, Dogs, Training MethodsTags , , , , , , ,

There are many different schools of thought on how to train dogs.

Ask three different dog trainers how to teach a dog to retrieve, and you’ll likely get three different sets of answers.

  • One trainer will advocate pinching the dog’s ear.
  • Another will advocate using a clicker and a bag of treats.
  • The third will say that the only way is to use the dog’s natural prey drive, and that neither treat rewards nor negative reinforcement are the answer.

All of them will argue vociferously against the other two, each convinced that their way is the RIGHT way.

So how do you know what is best for your pet?

The argument spreads everywhere. Your local bookstore is filled with books written by trainers, all claiming to have the answer. Look on the internet and you’ll become even more confused.

“Is it okay to let my dog up on the bed? Will this foster closeness and bonding, or will this upset the pack hierarchy?”

“When my dog jumps up, is it submissive, or dominant behaviour?”

“If my dog tugs on the leash, is it because he doesn’t respect me, or because I have rewarded him for pulling?”

Every trainer has a different answer, and each is convinced that his answer is the truth.

Who do you believe?

The answer is simple:

Continue reading “What Dog Trainers Don’t Want You To Know:”