Tag Archives: Training

Dog training: keep it simple.

Some training friends were around from out of town recently. This is always a good experience because as trainers, it expands our knowledge base, and keeps ideas fresh. Among many things I was able to take away from this, one I’ll share with you all: train for “as much as needed, as little as possible.”

What does this mean? When you’re teaching behaviors to your dog, you want to bring the amount of handling that your dog will need to learn, without overwhelming them. (Or yourself.) You always want to adjust your technique to accommodate your dog’s specific needs, there is no cookie cutter method to training! Some dogs need more hands-on work, some dogs need more hands-off work. Additionally, some dogs learn best with more repetition, some dogs learn best with less. As a novice, you’ll need to do a bit of trial/error to know what works best for your particular dog, which is where a skilled trainer comes in handy. Knowing how to read a dog and what it needs, we can make the best suggestions to have success with “as much as needed, as little as possible.”

Whew! That should make training easier. Right?!

Have you had a behavioral problem that you don’t quite know how to resolve? We’re here and LOVE to help! Ask away, and your question may be featured in an upcoming newsletter!

Nature VS Nurture: Puppy Socialization

When it comes to the question of “Nature VS Nurture” there’s no easy answer. The best answer is usually: BOTH. Dogs are born with an innate temperament, which is generally influenced by their breeding. We also influence how they respond to the world around them.

Quickly, let’s talk about temperament and learned behavior. Temperament is something your dog is born with. This cannot be changed, and is “the card they’re dealt.” Some dogs are naturally more outgoing, some dogs are naturally more fearful. This is normal, and important for you to be aware of, as knowing your pup and his tendencies will enable you to choose the best training and socialization path. Next, learned behavior is how we influence our dogs. This can be HUGE! Your puppy (and dog!) is constantly learning, and everything is training, whether you intend it to be, or not.

So, how can we best set our puppies up for success? Early socialization is key. Once your vet has cleared your pup to explore the world – go for it!! Get your pup to the park, take her to play dates, sign up for a training class. Learning from other dogs is super beneficial at this time. Go anywhere and everywhere with her! Thankfully, before your pup is ready for the world, there are some things you can do at home, too! Expose her to new textures – hard wood flooring, tile, carpet. Expose her to new scents – food, grass, flowers. Expose her to different chew items – tendons, pig ears, bones. This last one will be big as your pup starts teething, too! A great rule is 100 experiences in 100 days. Get creative, and have fun with it.

There’s no such thing as over socialization. Especially if you have a pup that’s less confident, you may be fighting against nature to help him out in this area. If you have a breed that has tendencies to guard, you’re going to have to work extra hard early to be sure those behaviors are kept in check. So. . .know the nature, provide the nurture, and enjoy your pup!

Have you had a behavioral problem that you don’t quite know how to resolve? We’re here and LOVE to help! Ask away, and your question may be featured in an upcoming newsletter!
Visit us online: www.muttmagic.com

Greet the people. . . not the dog!!

A common question has come up frequently over the last couple of weeks, and so I thought it may be a great idea to address this with everybody. It’s something along these lines:

“My dog has been doing great overall lately, but I had a guest come over the other night, and he/she growled at them. Why is he/she still having this problem, and what should I do?”

Many times our guests, especially if they are dog people, feel obligated or otherwise compelled to greet our dogs upon arrival. Most of the time this isn’t a big deal, but with a shy, fearful, or even dominant dog, this can spell trouble. The solution is simple. Instruct your guests to ignore the dog. This means do not look at, talk to, or touch the dog. Afterall, your guest (most likely) came to visit you anyway, not the dog!

Remember- in a pack of dogs, it is always the submissive dog that initiates interaction. Most dogs like and willingly take on this role if it is presented to them. By ignoring the dog, your guest is automatically placing him/herself in a position of leadership, therefore calming the dog. From there, if your dog chooses to greet your guest on his/her own, you may instruct your guest to acknowledge your dog’s greeting, if they wish to do so.

This ignoring solution usually resolves the greeting grumblies. If you’re still having problems and/or if your dog’s response has gone beyond mild discomfort, it is likely time to schedule an in-home evaluation and lesson. Of course, we are happy to help with all of this!

 

Please visit us online: www.muttmagic.com or www.baltimorecrateescape.com

Indoor Enrichment Activities

As winter is winding down, we’re getting hit hard this year! If you and your dogs are going stir crazy, below are some great indoor activities that you can do to prevent boredom and destructive behaviors.

 

1. Hide and Seek- Tap into your dog’s ability to scent, and his desire to be with you! Have family members take turns hiding throughout the house, and calling the dog. As your dog becomes proficient at finding you, eliminate the call and let his nose do the work!

 

2. Food Games- The use of a food toy (ex- kibble nibble or tug-a-jug. . .not your standard Kong!) is great for stimulation when you’re not around, and sometimes when you are! Don’t have these laying around the house? Hide your dog’s meal of kibble, split into many servings, throughout the house in various locations. Another great way to use your dog’s nose and problem solving skills.

 

3. Obedience- Of course, teaching your dog new tricks is also a great way to break up the monotony! Find something new and challenging to teach- indoors is always a great place to start. By the time it warms up, your dog will be ready for the challenges that practicing outside will bring, as well!

 

Aja Harris-Brown

Trainer/Behaviorist

Mutt Magic Training, Inc.

Visit us online: www.muttmagic.com

 

The benefits of infant-prep training

I’ve been teaching infant preparation in-home dog training  courses almost since the beginning of Mutt Magic. What have I learned now that there’s a two-legged addition in my own home? Well, for starters, I’ll probably never have the “The dogs will be fine; they know you’re pregnant,” attitude. While I’m sure the dogs did know, I wish would have spent more time preparing them. It’s been a tough adjustment for them, and not one that happened overnight.

 

Thankfully, the infant prep curriculum is strong, despite my former lack of personal baby knowledge! Teaching things like waiting at the tops/bottoms of stairs until released, as well as boundary training, and avoiding baby items on the floor are must-have control techniques and are included in the course, among a few other commands. Trust me when I say, you don’t want to need to train these things with a newborn infant in the house! I’ve actually had some clients use many of the techniques in this course to help with control of their dogs when aging family members visit, as well. Nothing’s worse than having your pack trip your grandma on the stairs!!

 

If you’re interested in our in-home training courses to help introduce new family members of the human or canine variety, please contact us!

 

Weight Pull Saved My Dog-Life!

KWP

Kristina with Brutus & Argo

As a naive and amateur dog owner, I made the mistake of rescuing a second dog without really understanding the first. Within 4 months, I had two young, male dogs in my house with more energy than I could handle. Although feeling like I had made a huge mistake, I couldn’t imagine sending a pup back to the shelter.

Then comes in Mutt Magic….

Aja evaluated my crew and told me that I needed to gain control of my dogs and give them an outlet for their energy. I remember her saying, “that energy has to go somewhere and right now they are negatively directing it towards each other”. With Aja’s help, she taught me how gain control through obedience work and loose-leash walking.

However, once I had the basics, our regular exercise routine was not enough; my dogs still yearned for more.

Aja introduces weight pull…..What is weight pull, you ask?

It is a physical activity where a dog wears a full body harness to pull weight. The harness is crafted to fit across the dog’s chest which is a canine’s powerhouse for pulling. It also crosses along the back to distribute the weight evenly. The dog is not harmed in any way because the harness is supporting the dog’s natural strength. Any breed is capable of weight pull as long as they have a properly fitted harness. In fact, weight pull is an international competitive sport. However, I practice for conditioning.

What are the benefits and why do I say weight pull saved my  dog-life?

1. Burn off the energy: Aja said I needed to see physical fatigue during our walks not just panting dogs. When we get home, my dogs sprawl out on the floor with a look of satisfaction. All their energy has been exerted leaving them calm and free from mental anxiety giving me more control in the house.

2. Walking with a purpose: my dogs know that when it comes time to pull we are on a mission and no one is stopping us! They walk looking straight ahead, they know our path and where we are going. They also know that they will be rewarded with K9 Kraving for dinner.

3. Fully body workout: dogs by nature are always on the move even though we’ve turned them into couch potatoes. My dogs pull 30 – 40lbs and walk between 2-3 miles. This is known as drag weight pull. By keeping them active with regular exercise it promotes good health and longevity.

4. More bonding time: Obviously, I get to spend GOOD QUALITY time with my dogs during their walk. In addition, my dogs stay separated from each other most of the day but after our training we all get to spend time together.

It’s been 9 months since we took in our second rescue and about 8 months since we started working with Aja. Had it not been for her help in obedience training in combination with adequate exercise, we might not have been able to keep both of our pups. So if you’re looking for a way to train, bond, or exercise, weight pull may be for you. Just make sure that you get the right equipment, learn the right way to start the training, and always use a leash when drag weight pulling!

Happy tails!

 

 

Be a LEADER!!

Most dogs, like most people, are natural followers. In fact, humans have bred dogs to follow our leadership for thousands of years. Even if you’re not a natural-born leader, your dog needs you to learn to be one for his sake!

Many behavioral problems are a result of a lack of leadership in the home. (As you well know I’ll say: The rest are likely a result of a lack of exercise!) Leadership related behavioral problems can be seen in anxious dogs and dominant dogs alike. In fact, a simple lack of leadership that can magnify fear, anxiety, dominance, and many other common behavioral concerns. Leadership is essential for a newly adopted dog, as well as one that has been in your home for years.

So, what are some actions that you can take to become a better leader for your dog? An easy start is a “Nothing in Life is Free” program (NILF, for short). This means that your dog must work for everything that she gets. It can include sitting and waiting for food (being on a feeding schedule, if free-fed), performing obedience for affection and/or treats, having a handler enter/exit doors first (This includes being let into the yard!), and staying off of the furniture. These are some simple, but highly effective, changes that can be made. The best part? They won’t take extra time in your daily routine!

One more note to make regarding leadership: It’s important to remember that in a pack of dogs, it’s always the submissive dog to initiate play and interaction from the other dogs. (Watch them at the dog park, it’s true!) Because of this, be sure that your dog is the one to initiate play time with you, and not the other way around. If you initiate ball play, you’re inadvertently putting yourself in a submissive position. Wait for your dog to request play time or affection. From there, you have the choice to play or not- and now you’re the leader. Simple!

Visit us online: www.muttmagic.com OR www.baltimorecrateescape.com

Starting a training journal

Keeping a training journal while working with your dogs can be very rewarding. I often suggest this to clients that own dogs with behavioral concerns when they enter into a training program, although this can be very useful for all dogs. I keep one for each of my dogs, in fact. Now that we’re well into the new year, I can look back to last year’s entries to see how my dogs have progressed, and what still needs to be worked on. Perfect!

What should go in a journal entry?

Every month, I create a calendar as the first entry. Then, I mark each date that I’ve trained. I also mark when I’ve exercised the dogs, what the exercise routine was, and what the temperature was outside. This way, I have an overview that I can easily reference that shows how many days the dogs and I have worked together and what we’ve done.

Following the calendar page, I enter detailed information regarding what was accomplished on each training date. Did the dogs do anything well? Did they need more attention on certain aspects of what we worked on? How was their endurance when exercising? These details will help you to adjust your next training and/or exercise session.

Next, once you’ve progressed and have several entries, you can look back to see how far you’ve come! I suggest monthly and yearly reviews. This is particularly beneficial if you’re trying to accomplish something specific like behavior management, competitive obedience, or endurance training. It can be used for anything, however. If you come up with a new use for journaling your dog’s progress, please share it with us! info@muttmagic.com

Visit us online: www.muttmagic.com