how to teach your dog the place command

Scout, Ry, and I took Ash’s pretty red bike on a ride to City Center in Port Orange the other day for two reasons:

  1. to further stabilize Scout around bicycles
  2. to work on her place commandScout and Ry bond while taking a break from training

The place command that Scout and I are working on isn’t the generic go have your dog to lay in a certain designated spot while you enjoy a peaceful dinner place command. Scout was a quick study on that one and can actually go to one of two places on command, either on top of her crate, or on her dog bed next to the island. It is always entertaining to change it up on her and watch her think about which one you commanded.

So the place command I want to teach is more like a Redo command if you will. I want to be able to call her from a down stay, get her into position then tell her “place” and have her go back to the spot she originally came from. Crazy cool right? Baden K9 is the one that introduced me to this command. We were doing a crazy drill involving coffee cans and you weren’t allowed to call your dog to you unless you could command them to return to their original place.

Day 1 of the Place Command

Once we got to the City Center Park, I took Ry out of the Tula and let her play around in the grass while Scout and I worked. It was a little bit more challenging because Scout was slightly fatigued from the slow bike ride in the bright Florida sunshine and summer heat but we did as much as we could. Just as exertion makes it harder for us to think and process, so to does exertion affect dogs.

  1. I put Scout in a down stay in a place I could easily recognize so I could bring her back to the same exact spot
  2. I walked 10 feet away and called her to me. I then praised her for a good “come”
  3. Now it was time to give the place command, “Scout place” and I walked her immediately to the same spot she started at.
  4. As soon as we got there, I gave her a “Good Place”
  5. I put her back in a down stay in the exact same spot
  6. Then I repeated this drill from different distances from the original spot. Every time leading her back with the lead. Its important not to set her up for failure by taking her off lead prematurely

Now of course I didn’t want her just to associate “Place” with that one specific spot of grass so then I moved her to another starting spot and repeated the above steps with the new location. By this time I could tell I needed to finish up the drill because as we discussed in yesterdays post about overheating, Scout was starting to get hot. After a nice break of laying in the grass and letting Ry crawl over her while she drank some cool water out of a Nalgene, it was time to head back.

I would say day one was a success. I am looking forward to further developing the place command.

Scout and Ry bond while taking a break from training

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Scout, Ry, and I taking a break from training at the park

 

Learn to recognize the signs your dog is overheating

On the way back down the Mt. Tallac Trail in Tahoe

On the way back down the Mt. Tallac Trail in Tahoe

I had the most amazing opportunity to do some hiking in the South Lake Tahoe area the other week and hit up the Mt. Tallac Trail. It was a gorgeous hike and I highly recommend it. Besides the gorgeous views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding fauna, this hike is also worthwhile in that you can enjoy the 10 mile hike with your dog. Unfortunately, I was not able to enjoy it with Ash or our fur creatures, Copper and Scout. There were a lot of other dogs out on the trail however. Some looked like they were having a blast and others weren’t looking so good. And seeing those poor pups struggling out on the trail is the inspiration for this post.

As a dog owner, it is your responsibility to look after the welfare of your canine companion and to accomplish that task, you need to learn to read your dog. When it comes to dogs overheating or being exhausted there are some clear warning signs to look at for. Before we get to that, lets talk about how dogs cool themselves. Dogs exchange body heat by panting. They do not have sweat glands all over their body as humans do. A second way dogs cool themselves is by dilating their blood vessels in their ears and face, allowing the blood to flow closer to the surface, thereby cooling it.

Signs your dog is getting too hot

  • heavy panting
  • stumbling
  • confusion
  • looking for shade

and if you have a habit checking their gums, they say they turn bright red if they are getting too hot

Ways to cool down your dog

Since you are now able to recognize the signs that your dog is getting too hot, lets talk about how to cool them off.

  1. stop the activity
  2. get them into shade
  3. if you have access to it, get them into some cool water
  4. otherwise, wet towels work
  5. while he is cooling with the above methods, give hime cool water to drink

Its important to remember not to use cold water while cooling your dog because cooling your overheating dog too fast can cause his blood vessels to constrict, making it even harder for him to regulate his temperature.

IF IN DOUBT, GET YOUR DOG TO THE VET IMMEDIATELY

Although dogs are pretty hardy creatures, you do not want to mess around with heat exhaustion because it can quickly spiral out of control and cause death. Go out and enjoy life’s adventures with man’s best friend but don’t forget to watch out for them too.

Scout enjoying some Florida sunshine

Scout enjoying some Florida sunshine

 

 

 

The dreaded prong collar and why I use it on my dogs

A quick aside, I started writing this post a few days ago on my way to South Lake Tahoe and since then, I have seen a couple posts from people I follow on Instagram and Facebook talking about prong collars. Interesting how thats such a popular topic all the sudden. Lol they attracted some hate for sure. A lot of people claiming animal abuse. William Koehler in his book, explains that true animal abuse is having a dog you can’t control and consequently having to take it to the animal shelter where it can’t find a home and must be euthanized. He asks if its more humane to train a dog so they don’t have to be put down. I agree.

So below follows my original writing before I saw everyone posting about prong collars.

Continue reading The dreaded prong collar and why I use it on my dogs

Scout running through the woods and fields

I threw together a quick video of Scout running through the woods and fields while Ash and I follow in the UTV. Enjoy!

 

Honest communication with your dog

We covered how to give your dog a command in a previous post, today we will talk about how to reward your dog when he obeys your command.

I do not believe in treats and toys as reward for good behavior. I do acknowledge that some dogs have been trained very well with treats alone but I want my dog focused on me, not an object. You that have seen the crazy look a dog gets when they get their Kong or tug know what I am saying when I talk about object focus. I had the opportunity to interact with a 4 month old maligator (Belgian Malinois for those that haven’t heard that term yet) that was in training for the sport French Ring. He was gorgeous pup but the intensity that they have for their reward, in his case a bite sleeve, was crazy. It was clear he would do anything to get his sleeve. Lol I guess it was his precious for the Lord of the Rings fans out there. I want the dog to have that kind of loyalty for me, not an object.

Young four month old Belgian Malinois guarding his bite sleeve

Young four month old Belgian Malinois guarding his bite sleeve

A toy or treat from you may not be near as enticing as the distraction of a cat or squirrel scurrying across the street. Consequently, you may find yourself chasing after your bolting canine.

So what do I use to reward a dog for obeying a command? Praise. Praise from his handler. Mike McConnery says that dog is the only animal that voluntarily left his pack to form a bound with humans in his books. A dog did not form a bond with a treat or a Kong. Dog and man formed a mutual bond to care for one another. Shouldn’t we capitalize on that bound? Praise is enough.

Like we talked about in a previous post, the intensity of voice must match the situation. Same thing with praise. Your praise should match the command that was given. A quiet “leave it” while sitting outside at a restaurant deserves a quiet, “good leave it.” Likewise, an intense out command while your dog is deployed on target requires an intense “Good Out!” once they release. A common mistake handlers make is to cheapen the praise by “Oh good boy, good boy, you did such a good job,” all the while rubbing them all over and taking them out of situation or the Work as Mike would say.

Our Golden Retriever Copper absolutely loves praise from us. He lights up after he gets a “Good Sit Cop” and a quick rub on the head. Lol that ol tongue comes out and I swear he smiles as he wags his tail. Scout, our Dutch Shepherd, also appreciates some well timed praised, she just doesn’t show it as much as Cop does.

Another added benefit of using praise is you are never without your tools. Now you don’t have to pack a Kong or a tug, or grab a handful of treats to stick in your pocket when you go out.

One last thought, think of the most spun up dog obsessing over a toy. Now imagine this dog is a Police K9 deployed on a suspect. What do you think that dog would much rather get at the end of that sprint? A true all out fight with a suspect that has nothing to lose, or a his favorite thing in the whole wide world, his Precious.

The Joys of Walking off lead with your dog

Happy Independence Day from us at deltacanine.net!

Happy Independence Day from us at deltacanine.net!

Hope everyone had a great Fourth of July! Mine was awesome in Upstate New York with my beautiful wife, our pretty daughter, and Copper and Scout.

Scout, Ry, and myself had the opportunity to go on a twilight stroll the night of the 4th and I can’t explain how enjoyable it was. Ry was strapped to me in a Tula and Scout was off lead roaming within 20 yards as we hiked up the hill. The best part was the fireflies. Riley loved looking around at them as they lit up the night and provided a better show than the fireworks. Scout was also an absolute delight, sticking close and coming immediately when recalled. We practiced a couple times before we went too far up the hill but after that, I took off her lead and let her go. She bounded to and fro was enjoying herself immensely. It was fun watching her dark shadow bound through the grass and brush. Should she get carried away and forge ahead too much, a quick, “Scout, too far” and she would come back towards me and stick closer. I was feeling pretty confident that our next off lead walk would be just as enjoyable.

Ha! Boy was I mistaken. When I introduced Copper and Ash’s parents’ dogs into the mix, all hell broke loose. Dogs were running willy nilly.

Scout en route to the creek! #creektime #deltacanine #dutchie #dutchshepherdsofinstagram

A video posted by @deltacanine_net on

I was surprised but I should have remembered the lesson I learned training with Rich Graham of Trident Fitness in Orlando. He began with a simple set up of directing a dog to cross a horizontal ladder off lead. We did this agility exercise a couple times until both dog and handler had no difficulties with it. He increased the distraction level by placing all the dogs that were by their handler in the first iteration of the exercise next to the ladder on an elevated platform. The added stress of the dogs in close proximity to the obstacle made the dogs that had no trouble crossing the ladder originally unable to without their handler grabbing the lead and guiding them across. It astounded me that we seemed such a simple change in the exercise to humans caused so much difficulty for the dogs.

Now applying the above lesson to the creek excursion made perfect sense. Although Scout was completely obedient when it was just us, the distraction of the different environment (the addition of multiple dogs) proved a weak link in our obedience.

Moral of the story: increase the stress and distraction of training, train in new and different environments, and be patient. It is a work in progress. Every day is training.

Ry and Scout already bonding

Ry and Scout already bonding

Keep your pets happy on the Fourth too!

Happy Friday!! And Happy 4th of July weekend!

Amidst the BBQ and fireworks remember that we celebrate 4th in commemoration of the original colonies adopting the Declaration of Independence in 1776 to form their own nation free of the tyranny of Britain. Let Freedom Ring!

Although its a great time of celebration for most people, your pets may not view it the same. I can’t remember where I saw it but the 4th is the day the highest number of pets are reported missing. Makes sense right? They are probably not near as keen on the explosions in the sky as their human companions are.

So when it does come time to pop some fireworks, take the time to make sure your dogs (and other pets too) are safe and secure. If you do notice them having trouble with the noise as evidenced by tucked tails and pinned ears, or hiding, be a good handler and take the time to let em know its ok. We use “Easy” when we can tell they are uncomfortable with something. Your calming presence and honest communication can do a lot to assuage any fear they may have when the night lights up.

Dogs are den animals so putting them in a crate during the festivities can also be a calming precaution.

We had a beautiful little Boston Terrier come up to us one 4th of July after he ran away from his owner. He hung out with us and gots lots of loving until his handler came by looking for him. The relief in the owner was apparent when he saw that we were taking care of his little buddy. Save yourself the worry of looking for a lost pet by making sure they are secure and comfortable.

 

Happy Independence Day from deltacanine.net!

How to give your dog commands

Walking through Home Depot with Scout, our female Dutch Shepherd, the other day got me thinking about how you should give commands to your dog. In the last post I discussed the one direction one command principle. Today we will take that a little bit further.

Dutch Shepherd guarding her people while they workout

Dutch Shepherd guarding her people while they workout

The command should be issued once, in a calm and confident voice. “Scout, Sit.” I used to just look at her and say “sit” but I have since rethought that after working Copper, our lovable Golden Retriever, and Scout at the same time. It was a mess when both attempted to obey a command issued to the other dog. It’s still a work in progress but it seems that they are starting to understand to wait until they hear their name issued with the command.

Volume. Volume of the command is interesting and depends on context. Out in public, even though I am moving with a dog and stick out like a sore thumb I try to be as inconspicuous as possible. That means my commands are for me and my dog alone to hear. Quietly, “Scout, leave it. Good leave it. Scout heel. Good heel.” All the while, no one around us is any wiser. But training in a high energy environment with barking dutchies and maligators (or Belgian Malinois for those of you that haven’t heard that yet) requires a different set of vocals. Everyone is ramped up, including both handlers and their dogs so a more focused and intense vocal is required to punch through those distractions. When your volume increases, its important not to let the pitch of your voice increase as well. You want to use your diaphragm to push that command out. My wife calls it my quarterback voice. Its loud, its clear, and it focused so punches through the distance so your canine partner can hear it.

Its interesting how many people use their “quarterback voice” to issue a command but after the dog complies, the handler changes the tone for the praise.  The same intensity should be used both for the command and the praise after you dog complies.

One Command, One Direction. Use a calm confident voice with a volume and intensity for the situation at hand.

Off leash dog obedience

I found myself getting lazy the other day when working Scout, our Dutch Shepherd, off leash with Ash after Crossfit. I had scout jumping on 6 foot walls and crossing left and right across the top of the wall with turns spaced sporadically. I positioned myself about 10 yards from the wall with the intent of sending Scout away from me towards the wall (much more difficult it seems than having her come towards me)

Sounds easy enough right? Lol of course its never that easy working with dogs and thats part of the draw, overcoming challenges and working together with your companion to achieve your goals. Our obstacle was my laziness. I would give her the jump command, she would balk, and I would give it again without a correction. As Joshua Perry and Mike McConnery at Baden K9 would say, I’m “building a vocabulary” with her, letting her choose which issuance of the same command she wants to obey, instead of giving “one direction, one command.” She did the same thing with the turn command while on the wall.

I am embarrassed to say I also caught myself in a rookie mistake giving her multiple issuances of the wait command this week while opening the front door and then looking down to see if she would obey. Oh I felt my cheeks burning imagining Rich Graham with Trident Fitness shaking his head at that spectacle. All that was doing was causing suspicion on her part. “Hmmm he’s looking at me like I should be doing something but he gave me the wait command. What does he expect me to do?”

This is really a simple fix but takes effort on the handlers part. Dog training 101: “One direction, one command.” Once the dog understands what a specific command means, he/she should be able to execute it on the first issuance. “Scout, Sit” with a nice firm voice. Its not a request, it is a command. She knows what sit means and has done it countless times. It is perfectly reasonable to expect her to perform it on the first command. If she doesn’t or if she hesitates, its a “Phooey,” with a correction then a “Scout, Sit.” Lo and behold, she sat on the first command.  This is pretty easy to do while on lead (or leash if you prefer). The challenge is maintaining this same “One direction, one command” discipline while off lead. It is incredibly easy to fall in the trap of repeating yourself when they don’t obey on the first call, instead of putting them back on lead, giving the command, and making sure they perform, and then trying off lead again. It takes way more effort to do it the proper way but in the end, a well behaved, stable dog is well worth it.

One last thought that sort of goes along with this post. People often ask me if Scout is finished training when they see her do things most dogs and handlers do not do. My answer is always the same. “No, every day is training” because there is always something to improve.

Scout, our Dutch Shepherd, scaling a 6ft wall with Ash after Crossfit

Scout, our Dutch Shepherd, scaling a 6ft wall with Ash after Crossfit

Hello Again, I am back.

Sorry for the delay in new content. I got overwhelmed with life in the form of our little one, a crazy work schedule, and boat load of spam comments. So I should be posting up more regularly now. Its great to be back.

Ry, Scout, and Cop are best buds

Ry, Scout, and Cop are best buds