Tag Archives: CGC

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!


One command, one response.

Most of us know that issues our dogs have are often related to us, as handlers. I’ll even admit that, in a competition setting, I’ve been told by a judge: “Your dog looks much better off leash than on leash.” Wow. Yes, that means that problems in how my dog performs are my fault! Probably one of the biggest mistakes we make as handlers is repeating ourselves. Our goal with any command should be to obtain one command, one response.

Every time we interact with our dog is a training exercise, whether it’s intended or not. If we ask our dog to “Sit. . .Sit. . .Sit. . .Sit,” our dog is learning that he doesn’t have to sit when told the first time. These repeated commands are not gentle reminders once the dog knows a command, it’s us being ignored! Often, we repeat commands without noticing it. The more aware you are of how many times you say a command, the easier it is to correct yourself. Once your dog has obeyed, think back to the command you just gave, count in your head how many times it was repeated, and be aware of it for next time.

If you find that your dog does not respond the first time you say a command, it may be best to re-teach it from the very beginning, luring them into position, and reinforcing your command one time, after the dog is in position, associating the word with the task. Along these same lines, whenever you go to a new location or provide new distractions, you may find the need to backtrack to more basic training to get the results you’re looking for until your dog has been “proofed” with a large variety of distractions.

Yes, training a dog is more like training ourselves!

To learn more about Mutt Magic, or to sign up for classes, please visit our site at www.muttmagic.com


New Dog Introductions

Selecting an appropriate new dog to bring home, as well as selecting new playmates for dogs in your household always requires introducing the dogs. There are a few points to remember to ensure that all new greetings are as successful as they can be. A few general rules to keep in mind are: 1. Male-Female pairs tend to do better long term; 2. Adult dogs that get along initially will typically continue to do so; and 3. Walking the dogs together before greeting can greatly improve chances for appropriate greetings, especially with dogs that are selective.

Male-Female pairs are best because there will be less competition between the dogs. In a pack, there is always an alpha male and an alpha female. (Of course, in your pack at home, you should be the dominant leader, although that’s another topic all together!) Keeping opposite sex pairings can reduce dominance scuffles, which can be intense. In multi-dog households or playgroups, it’s best to determine who the top dogs are, and keep a watchful eye to be sure that other dogs do not challenge this role.

Contrary to the popular myth, adult dogs are better new additions! Getting a puppy to have it “grow up” with the other dog or with the family greatly increases the risk that the puppy will challenge an adult dog as he/she matures. If you select a new addition to your household as an adult and your current dog is receptive from the initial greeting, chances are that the roles will not be challenged in the future because both dogs are mentally mature. Mental maturity in most dogs happens between the ages of 2-4 years, which often depends on the breed and the individual dog.

Now . . .you think you have found the perfect match. It’s time to introduce the dogs! Start on neutral territory, and do not allow the dogs to greet right away. Take the dogs on a long walk side-by-side to start. The longer the walk the better, as greetings will be less intense if the dogs have burned some energy. As you’re walking, take turns having one dog walk in front and the other behind. This will give both you and the dogs the opportunity to watch behaviors. Plus, it will give the dogs an opportunity to pick up on the other dogs scent.

Once the walk is over, as the handler, you must make the decision if it’s the right time to let the dogs greet. Happy, but relaxed, posture is key. Do not allow the dogs to greet head-on; this can present a challenge to some dogs. Head-to-tail, or a sideways greeting is better, as this allows the dogs to learn each others scent. With loose leashes, allow the dogs to approach naturally; you should notice one or both dogs veering slightly to one side, with bodies curved. If the dogs are pulling toward each other with tight leashes, more walking may be needed.

Some dogs are able to meet with new dogs quickly and easily, while other dogs may need more time to get used to a new household or playgroup addition. This depends greatly on the individual dog, with breed and gender playing a role in this as well. Always know your dog and his/her reactions, anticipate responses, and watch behaviors for the best new intros.

Have safe introductions, and enjoy your new addition!

We have VIDEO!

Big thanks to Amber, for being videographer for the day!

We will now be creating training videos to share from time to time. Our first attempt is of our group class orientation. In the past, some of you may have missed orientation day, and therefore missed a very important obedience demo! In the future, this is now available online.

CGC Obedience Demo

Enjoy, and please feel free to comment!

What to do?

So, we’ve tried some different experiments for the Blog, and are trying to come up with some functional and interactive uses for it. Having pages for each group course to post questions wasn’t as sucessful as we originally had hoped. It was a good idea, though. We’ll probably add a FAQ in place of this soon.

Right now we’re coming up with some ideas for video demos that can be posted here. If you have any ideas, please share! We’ll be starting with a video of our orientation demo. This way, students who happen to miss group class orientation can still see the obedience demo before attending a first class with dogs.

Fear-aggression, anxiety, and other doggie problems. . .

Leadership is the answer!

Most dogs do not want to be aggressive or defensive. They are much more happy and content with having structure, and a clear submissive role in the family. What happens when this role is not clear in your dog’s mind? Any number of things could go wrong, and this is the leading cause for fear-aggression and anxiety. There are several things that you can start, which will help to re-establish you as the leader in your home. This will allow your dog to let his guard down, and RELAX!

Begin with a “Nothing in Life is Free” routine (NILF). This means all food, treats, toys, and affection, MUST be earned. Free-feeding is out of the question, and the dog must sit and wait for food, being released to eat. Treats should be given sparingly. Treats must be well-timed, and for something special- like a long down-stay under distraction, etc. Toys are allowed, and interactive toys are preferable- something that you can play with your dog (ball, tug, etc.). These should also be earned, and should be picked up at all other times. Even your affection should be earned- do not pet your dog when he demands attention. Rather, ignore this behavior, and give affection for appropriate, calm, submissive behavior. Last. . .if your dog is allowed on the furniture, STOP! Normally, dogs on the furniture is not the end of the world, when they’re invited, but when there is leadership confusion present, this is absolutely a no-go.

So, let’s say you’re consistently doing all of the above. Your dog is calm, more confident, and submissive. Hopefully this has resolved any problem behaviors that may have occured in the past. If not, it is VERY important to consult with a professional, as the behavior may have progressed into something habitual, and will need some training. All hope is not lost, and your dog can be rehabilitated, it may simply need some more intense work. Aja Harris, with Mutt Magic, has extensive experience with this, and can help you and your dog regain the relationship you’re meant to have.