Why you need a protection dog: An example

Hello again from us at deltacanine.net. Today’s post is a more serious one. In it, I describe a situation in which I believe a protection dog made the difference between a non event and a serious, life altering experience.

A woman was working late at night at her office by herself and her protection dog. She was making runs to her vehicle through the back door. As she finished a load and walked back down the walkway, she heard footsteps behind her. She turned and a man was following her down the path, a place he had no business to be. Her dog was so in tune with her surroundings and the woman that she immediately picked up on the threat. The dog did not retreat, or get nervous. She positioned herself between the woman and the threat. She stood her ground and projected an aura of confidence and calm that forced the man to rethink his actions and back out of the area the way he came. The woman did not give the dog any command. They were that in tune with another.

I truly believe this situation would have ended in a much different manner had that woman not had her protection dog with her.

Getting you and your dog ready for going out into public

Hello again from us at deltacanine.net. Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. In today’s article we discuss training you and your dog for that dreadful public experience.

Understandably, taking your canine from the nice comfortable and controlled training environment and thrusting them into the real world with real people, (not other handlers), real dogs (that have no obedience) and real life distractions causes stress. This is completely normal and expected. It is stressful for both you and your dog. Stressful for you because you aren’t 100 percent confident that all the training you completed has satisfactorily prepared you for the real world and you aren’t 100 percent your dog will perform like he’s supposed to. Guess what, you are right on both counts. Just like we have discussed in the past, changing even one variable has an impact. Now lets talk about the stress for the dog. In addition to the stress of a new environment with new smells and sights, the dog picks up on your stress. As Mike McConnery at Baden K9 says, the dog reflects the handler. If you are amped up and stressed out, your dog will be too. It flows both ways down the lead.

Ok so I just told you that stress is normal and to be expected, both for you and your dog. I also said that as much as you train, you and your dog will make mistakes. “Well shit Case, thats great but now what do I do about it? I don’t like making mistakes.” Yeah no one does but view it in a positive light. Look at a mistake as a training opportunity for you and your dog so when you fail, you can fail forward. Going philosophical on you for a second, its interesting as we grow older how we become afraid of failing, thus limiting our growth. I love watching my daughter as she learns to walk especially when she just started to learn. Yes, she fell and thus failed but she got back up every time and now she is unstoppable. She failed forward. Do the same with your dog when you both make mistakes.

Now since we got the perspective out of the way, lets talk about making our first debut as successful as possible. As has been mentioned in previous posts, our training philosophy is obedience under stress. We learn something and then proof it while increasing the amounts of stress applied. Start small and increase. Add elevated positions, more distractions, more handlers, more dogs etc. Make it a challenge. The confidence and bond built through training under stress allows you and your canine companion to tackle ever increasing challenges. What is the most challenging obstacle out there? Real life. So now braced with the success of stressful training you are ready to venture forth and take a stab at the real world.

Ash brought the girls to come pick me up at the airport.

Ash brought the girls to come pick me up at the airport.

But understand that when you are taking your dog out into public it is just another training environment. Its a little bit more awkward when you have to correct your dog in public but other than that, its just an opportunity to improve your bond and communication. As soon as you become comfortable with the idea of correcting your dog in public, there is no limit to what you can accomplish with your furry friend.

Just a quick update on our public experiences. We had to run to Home Depot the other day and it was busy as all get out. There where people all over the place and kids galore. At one point, 4 kids ambushed Scout and she was completely fine with it. I always explain to kids that she is in training and they may pet her as long as she stays in a SIT. As soon as she gets up they must stop, otherwise they are rewarding bad behavior. For the most part they understand and abide by my instructions. One of the workers was impressed with Scout’s progress and let me know. Thats always nice to hear.

 

So get out there and train. Train stressful so real life isn’t as stressful and you can build that bond with your canine companion.

Teaching my dog to load up

Today’s post from deltacanine.net is about teaching your dog how to load up in your car. The video below shows me training my 2 year old Dutch Shepherd, Scout to enter the vehicle through the open passenger window but you can tailor these steps to have them enter the car through the trunk or open door.

As with all training, start small and work your way up. You want a firm foundation before you move to the next step. If you move forward before you or your dog are ready, it makes it even more difficult as you progress to higher levels.

The “Tacticool” Load Up

Prep

Scout practicing the "load up" without me holding the lead

Scout practicing the “load up” without me holding the lead

I decided it would be a wise idea to put some sort of protective barrier up to prevent scratch damage to the paint. The best I came up with was a thick towel. It was a very good idea but I should have placed a towel on the hood as you will see from the outtakes at the end of the video. Lol lesson learned: your dog is full of surprises.

As I talked about in a previous post, I used the essential equipment (A 6ft lead and a prong collar).

Phase 1: On-lead

Since Scout has an understanding of jumping on and over obstacles I began with her in a “foos” facing the open window a few feet away. Before attempting the load up, your dog should be able to on command “hup” up on objects. Standing next to Scout, I gave the “load up” command and moved towards the open window. She’s smart dog and knew instinctively she had nowhere to go besides through the open window. As she went through it, I gave her a “Good load up” matching the tone of the issued command like we talked about in this article.

We did this a number of times, increasing the distance progressively until I decided it was time to go off lead.

Phase 2: Off-Lead

There isn’t much difference between Phase 1 and 2 except now she doesn’t have a lead on. You start close and once again work your way out. If you have trouble and the dog balks or clowns around immediately go back to the lead and work with it for a while before attempting off lead again. Don’t give the dog the opportunity to become accustomed to disobeying you off lead. Be consistent.

Phase 3: Out of Position

Placing the lead through the open window

Placing the lead through the open window

Now comes the fun part. Put the dog back on-lead. Place them in a “sit” in front of the open window. Put the end of the lead through the window and have your dog wait while you walk around the car to the drivers seat. Pick up the end of the lead and give the “load up” command. Once the dog is inside the vehicle, unload them and set up the exercise again. Do this a couple times (lol yes, this can be good exercise for you) until the dog has a good foundation.

Now its time for the test. Set your dog up a few feet from the car. Take off their lead, (yes you heard me, its time to take that lead off). Put them into a “wait” while you get into position in the car. When you are ready, give them the “load up” command.

Voila!

Your dog should have just done an off lead load up. Congrats! And no worries if they didn’t get it right this first time. Go back on lead and do it until you are both comfortable and then try again off lead. Be patient.

Now of course its time to elevate both your dogs and your confidence by increasing the distance. Have fun with it!

 

Let me know what else you would like to see and be sure to leave your email in the space on the left side of the page so you can be alerted to when new content comes out. Thank you! Now enjoy the movie.

 

 

 

New Logo on my shirt!

Special thanks to Addie at On Par Creations for getting my logo for deltacanine.net on my shirt! It looks fantastic and I couldn’t be more pleased with her work.

Me rocking my new logo-ed shirt with my regal beast, Scout

Me rocking my new logo-ed shirt with my regal beast, Scout

Scout did what?: Tales of the misadventures

We all know Dutch shepherds can be a handful. They are smart, energetic, and a little bit of crazy. Add those together and you are destined to have some funny now, not so funny then stories. Below will be a list of those misadventures and of course will be added to over time.

Smurfs

The one that stands out most in my mind you can still see the lingering effects of. One day we decided that we trusted Scout to be left out of her crate with Copper while we ran errands. We came back home and opened the front door to let the dogs out. Copper came bounding out of the house, happy as always to see us, that goofy Golden Retriever smile plastered on his face. I couldn’t tell what it was initially because he was moving so fast but he didn’t look right. Then it hit me, he had blue splotches all over him and his tail. In panic mode trying to figure out what happened, I rushed into the house thinking nothing of Scout as she slinked by me and out the front door. It was a complete mess in the house. My wifey has direct mail marketing company, A3 Marketing, and had some printer ink sent to the house. That dirty dog Scout decided it would be a great idea to play with and destroy the box that the ink had come in.

There was magenta and cyan ink all over the place. On the carpet, on the hardwood floor, on Copper and on Scout. It was a mess and an expensive one at that. We did the math and our darling Dutch Shepherd Scout destroyed $200 dollars worth of ink. I am pretty sure you can still see the cyan ink on Copper even after all the baths he has had since then.

What equipment do you need for dog training?

Howdy again from deltacanine.net. Today’s dog training tip will cover the essential equipment needed to train your dog. Some owners go crazy and get way more equipment than is necessary.

So are you ready for the list?

  1. 6 ft lead
  2. Prong collar

Crazy right? With those two items alone, you can have an extremely well behaved, obedient canine companion. The other equipment out there that is touted as the best thing since sliced bread such as shock collars and halter leads are just not required.

With these two tools and patience, the sky is the limit in what you can do with your dog. Together, the lead and prong collar communicate to your dog feedback. It gently leads them in the direction you want and provides correction when they do something they know is wrong.

The Lead

I prefer a leather lead in a six foot length. I like leather over nylon because of the feedback it provides. It seems like the leather is more responsive. You can’t beat the utility of a double snap lead however. So I am on the lookout for a six foot leather double snap lead. With a double snap lead and a flat collar, you can fashion an expedited harness for lowering and lifting, you can fasten the two snaps together and wear the lead when on the long line, or you can quickly clip the snap onto the floating ring around an object to hitch a dog to it. The double snap lead is very utilitarian.

The Collar

The collar I use and recommend is the medium (3mm) prong collar made by Herm Sprenger. Now some people seem to think just because it looks scary it must be torture to use it on the dog but as I have mentioned previously, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The choke chain that most people is actually very harmful to the dog because every time you tighten it, you are in fact strangling the dog, breaking down the muscles of their throat. Whereas a correction with the prong collar mimics the nip that a dog would receive from its mother for doing something it shouldn’t. The prong collar provides more feedback to the dog with a minimum input than can be achieved with a choke chain.

The flat collar is ineffective for training unless you are doing agitation work in a protection dog. Now I am sure you have all seen the dog wearing a nice flat collar dragging its owner down the street on their “walk.” Give that owner a prong collar and proper instruction on using it and pulling will no longer be a problem.

A few quick tidbits about the prong collar. Use the same link every time you put the collar on the dog and remove it so you only have to replace that one link when it is finally time to replace it. I mark the one I use with red tape as you can see in the picture below so I don’t mix them up. Also, make sure you aren’t using the special links at each end, as they are much more expensive to replace.

Dead ring vs live ring

There are two rings on the prong collar, the dead one (in the middle of the chain) and the live ring which is attached to the chain with a swivel. When training, you should snap into both rings. To make this easier on myself, I bought a nifty little paracord tab from one of the handler’s son while training at Baden K9 in Ontario. A little bit of lost history they also taught us up there while talking about the prong collar was the dogmen of old flipping the prong inside out, and snapping into the swivel ring to hitch up the dog. Pretty neat huh?

Herm Sprenger Medium prong collar. Notice the red tape and the nifty tab.

Herm Sprenger Medium prong collar. Notice the red tape and the nifty tab.

 

So ladies and gentlemen, all you need to start training your dog is patience, a six foot lead, and a prong collar. Get out and there use every day for a training opportunity. Until next time.

 

6ft leather lead and prong collar

The essentials of dog training

 

 

Watch a 2 yr old Dutch Shepherd working agility

Hello again from deltacanine.net. Join us today and watch a video of 2 yr old female Dutch Shepherd doing some simple agility.

Scout and I did some agility work after a quick run to the Port Orange City Center. In the video you can see us “hupping” on to an obstacle about shoulder height high. We did this a number of times. Each time changing the exercise just slightly to add a different stress like how we discussed in this article. Sending a dog from out of position is what you want to strive for in training. It doesn’t take much work to lead them to the obstacle and encourage them to jump up. What takes practice and repetition is going away from your dog and having them go to the correct obstacle. Towards the end of the video you can see me go from Scouts side and have her up will I am diagonal from the obstacle. Start small and work your way up.

Hopefully you enjoyed this agility video that gives a quick glimpse into the athletic ability of the Dutch Shepherd breed.

how to use a leash

Happy Friday from us at deltacanine.net! Today will be discussing proper leash management when working and training your dog.

I noticed I’ve been lazy of late, so I thought I’d touch on this subject to pass on the importance of staying vigilant as a handler. I reviewed some video footage of my agility training with Scout from a couple days ago and noticed I wasn’t managing the lead properly. In the video you can see clearly the lead is a tangled mess and also has way too much slack in it. Combined, the two equal ineffective corrections and poor communication between dog and handler.

Managing your lead 101

So what does it mean to manage your lead? (Lead also means leash) Managing your lead means taking out enough slack that should you need to apply a correction, theres no wasted movement in utilizing one. At the same time, it also means there is enough play in the lead so your dog can make their own decisions. At no time should the lead be taught. Now the tricky part is managing the slack in your hand. The live part of the lead should always be at the bottom of your hand leading straight to your dog. If you have the lead coming out the top of your hand, you will get a torquing action on your wrist as you apply a correction, making it less effective and inefficient.

While we picture a leather lead below, another important thing to remember when utilizing a double-snap lead is to firmly grasp the metal end not connected to your dog. In the event that you forget to hold on to the ring and unused snap, a firm correction to your dog will also give you quite the trophy on your knuckle. Trust me, been there, done that. I’m quite fond of these types of leads because of their versatility but feel the nylon doesn’t respond as well as leather. I look forward to finding a double-snap in leather to have the best of both worlds!

 

Can you take your dog to Aloft Hotels?

Hello again from deltacanine.net. I had the opportunity to go up to Jacksonville for an overnight the other day and I was pleasantly surprised that Ash and Ry could come with me. The only problem was we didn’t know what to do with Scout. Lol of course I didn’t think to plan ahead and see if VIP Pet Resort had room but I remembered seeing a dog at one of the hotels I frequent in Tallahassee and I was willing to bet the dog I saw wasn’t a service a dog. So I looked up to see if there was an Aloft in Jacksonville close to the airport and then checked out the pet policy once I found it.

Aloft Jacksonville Airport allows dogs!

And there is no pet fee. I was very pleased when I found out. It worked out great because free is much less expensive than having to pay for boarding and we got to keep our companion with us. Aloft even has a complimentary dog bed for your furry friend as well.

Pet Policy

Animals are family, too! That’s why the Aloft Jacksonville Airport welcomes dogs up to 40 pounds.* Our pet-friendly arf(SM) program offers a special bed, bowl, and a doggie bag of woof-alicious treats and toys, all complimentary to use during your stay. Please make sure they’re on their best behavior—we don’t want to charge you extra for housekeeping! – direct from Aloft Jacksonville Airport policies found here

 

Pretty cool huh?

We definitely enjoyed our stay. It was great getting Scout in a new environment with new people, sights, and smells. She even had her first elevator experience. The only problem was she badly wanted to get in the pool to swim with Ry and I while Ash worked poolside.

Truth be told, I was more concerned about Scout’s behavior but Ry was the one that caused the most chaos. The poor little nugget was coming off having a fever and developed a stuffy nose. She was not a happy camper and screamed bloody murder starting at about 0100 and waking up every 30 minutes after that. It was brutal and I was convinced we were gonna kicked out of the hotel. Luckily that didn’t happen.

So next time you get to travel with your furry canine companion, be sure to check to see if your destination has an Aloft Hotel. Use the time together to get some stability training in as well. Remember, every day is training.

Scout, Ry, and Me lounging at Aloft Jacksonville Airport

Scout, Ry, and me lounging at Aloft Jacksonville Airport

 

Stability in a protection dog

Scout put into obedience on an elevated surface, in this case, a table.

Scout put into obedience on an elevated surface, in this case, a table.

Today on deltacanine.net we will be talking about stability of a protection dog.

I’ve been away for the last couple of days so it’s been Ash, Ry, and Scout manning the home front. Ash relayed a story to me about taking the dog to the office with her. Ash was plugging away on the computer with Scout lounging out behind her and then someone began opening the door. Scout did exactly what we wanted her to do, let the person know that they shouldn’t open the door unless they are supposed to. Scout immediately moved to the threat and let them know in no uncertain terms that she was there and ready to defend her owner. In this case it was just the office help but it surprised both Ash and Scout. Ash recalled Scout and put her in down stay on an elevated surface. Scout did great on the initial threat reaction but had trouble turning off the switch. She remained on high alert even though clearly there was no threat.

The point of this story is many so called protection dogs have no problem turning on the switch to go into 100 percent aggression mode. But the real test for both the dog and the training is how well they turn off the switch. This is where stability exercises come in.

You want your dog under your command at all times, even when you are both confronted with a high stress situation (in this case an unknown person opening a door). The foundation for stability is placing your dog and yourself in artificial stressful situations, starting small and working your way up. This can be simply placing your dog on elevated surfaces and putting them into obedience. And as complex as the crazy exercises we conducted at Baden K9 in Ontario with blindfolds, one hand immobile, and lowering 80 lbs German Shepherds, 8 week old Belgian Malinois, and full grown Dutch Shepherds into dark tubes in teams. The more you place yourself and your dog in stressful situations the better bond you will have and thus you will have more command of your dog.

Remember, don’t ask something of your dog you aren’t willing to do. Dyas K9 says the best way to build a bond with your dog is to do stuff that you find stressful. He said to run with your dog if you don’t like running, climb with your dog if you are afraid of heights, swim with your dog if you don’t like swimming.