Archive for puppy

Ten Tips for Raising a Dog

Posted in dog training, pets with tags , , , on May 15, 2015 by rattlerjen

Your dog is part of the family. Are you raising him right?

These are ten tips to help you and your dog weather your relationship.

1. Life Balance

balancing dog

Your dog is part of your family it’s important to manage your time properly. We are all pretty busy especially if we are parents shuttling our children around to their various sports and hobbies. Juggling that with work and a dog, it is essential you schedule time in your calendar for you, your dog, and your family.

Be sure to schedule some interactive time with just you and your dog. Spending quality time with your dog strengthens your relationship with him and can relax a busy person like you!

Do not forget to schedule dog free time too. Your dog needs alone time. Schedule time in everyday where he is left completely alone to rest. Crate training your dog can give him a safe space just his own.

2. Foster Good Self Esteem

Dogs have self esteem?  You bet. Dogs are creatures that learn. Mistakes are part of learning. Pet owners need to be careful to let their dog work out problems for themselves.  Do not micromanage or help them too much, especially when they are trying to learn something new.  Just stand back and give them a few seconds to work it out.  If they get confused, just restart the challenge in an easier form or give your dog a hint.

For example, you are trying to teach your dog to sit. Rather than pushing on his hind end, pulling on the leash,  or repeating “sit, sit, sit,” stand silent and wait. If he needs help, restart the problem by backing up several steps, say “sit” once, pause a second, then lure his nose up and back with a treat in your hand. Reward!

3. Set Limits

Just like children, dogs thrive on rules and structure.  Your dog should have a clear and consistent set of rules that everyone in the house follows with the dog. Post them on the fridge!

My favorite is wait at the door.  Teach your dog he may not run through doors to the outside without your permission.  Make sure everyone in the house follows this rule – Always! Keep in mind, dogs are very bad at generalizing.  This means that you should not let your dog jump on you when wearing workout clothes, but yell at him when he jumps on your work clothes. This will only confuse or frustrate your dog and cause naughty behavior.

4. Management vs Relationship

While it is very important to have limits, not every interaction should be obedience. Too many rules, and you will have a stressed out human and dog! Have rules for things that are important to you and the safety of the dog. Going overboard is no fun for anyone and does not help your relationship. Be thoughtful and selective about the rules you will enforce.2013-01-01 07.45.42

5. Responsibility

Responsibility goes both ways.  It is up to you to learn how to positively train your dog so he understands what you want.  Often dogs misbehave because training has not been practiced enough, the instructions were not clear, or you expected too much out of the dog too soon.  Rewards such as treats and play are used as communication with the dog throughout the learning process.  Since your dog cannot ask you questions, he must learn through trial and error.  There will be a lot of rewards given in the beginning.  Then it is your dog’s responsibility to learn that he does not get a reward for every single cue (command) given. Once your dog can follow a cue successfully at least 80% of the time, start fading out the rewards.

6. Giving Space

Dogs need space to be a dog. I often see owners getting frustrated with their dog’s during a walk because they are pulling them from one thing to the next. Other owners have dogs walking down the street in a heel position head down and tail still.

We often forget how unnatural it is for a dog to walk by our side down a street for long periods of time.  It is much like expecting a three year old to walk through a toy store without pulling you to look at any of the toys on the shelves.  Who is the walk for anyway?

After constant jerking on the leash “nagging” the dog just gives up and does what he wants.  Or even worse the punishment causes the dog to “shut down” no longer enjoying his time out with his people.

So how is this dilemma solved?  Have two walks! One with the dog wearing a harness he can pull in and another with his normal walking flat collar or front attaching harness on. Yes! Dogs can tell the difference!  My dog even has a special mushing harness and leash she wears while pulling me on my bike!  Once her normal collar is attached to the leash, she walks nicely.

Keep the fun walks long and the training walks short!

You may also teach your dog using the “free shaping” method.  This is the fastest way to teach your dog how to solve problems and learn.  Even better it wears them out and is lots of fun!

https://youtu.be/L0XuafyPwkg

7. Do Things Together

It’s why you got a dog in the first place, right? This tips is the quickest way to turn a frustrated owner into their pet’s biggest fan again.

So, what should you do with your dog?

skateboarding dog

  • play games
  • fetch
  • tug
  • fun walks
  • group training classes
  • hike
  • dog sports
  • nose work – search work for pet owners
  • dock diving
  • agility

There are so many fun activities you can do with your dog!

8. Model Your Values

Remember, you are your dogs advocate. It is important that you teach people how to properly greet and interact with your dog. Never let anyone get away with being rude to your dog, even if your dog seems to not mind at the time. Rude is leaning over, sticking their hand in the dog’s face to sniff, patting on the head, or hugging your dog. What people learn from you will affect their interaction with other dogs they meet in the future. Walk away if someone does not follow your rules, no exceptions.

Along the same lines, you are an advocate for other dog owners as well. Keep your dog on a leash when out in public and clean up after your pup.

9. Have Age Appropriate Rules

Whether you just brought home a puppy or adopted an adult dog, your rules should fit the dog. It is always best to have strict rules at first, then relax them later after dog no longer makes mistakes.  This is especially important when house training a dog. Keep them in a safe confined place like a crate or dog safe room when you cannot watch them 100% of the time they are out.  Most accidents happen because a dog slipped out of sight for only a second.  Never leave anything out your dog can destroy. Set him up for success. If your dog is difficult to manage while out, consider tethering him to you until he learns the ropes.

10. Love Your Dog

cute terrier

You have this dog for the rest of his life. Sometimes it is hard to enjoy your dog after he misbehaved. Remind yourself to love your dog independent of his behavior. He loves you unconditionally.

“Strive to be the person your dog thinks you are; especially to your dog.”

Molniya Tries The Agility

Posted in dog training, pets with tags , , , on May 15, 2013 by rattlerjen

Our little puppy is growing so fast!

She did an amazing job on the agility today.

Are there treats in that hand?

treats

 

Arrr!  I walk the plank for those tasty morsels.

 

walk the plank

 

Treats?  I don’t need silly treats!  Even this swinging plank is cake!

 

swinging plank

 

I think I might need a bit of help with this one

pipe bridge

 

Climb the stairs?

open stairs

 

Almost there.

almost there

 

I did it!

i did it

 

Down under we go!

short stuff

 

You want me to go in there?

tunnel 1

 

For a frisbee?  SURE!

IMG_1518

 

Woo hoo! Let’s do more!

frisbee

A little new puppy update for spring

Posted in dog training, pets with tags , , , , on April 1, 2013 by rattlerjen

We have been busy here

Our new puppy is growing up so fast.  She can do nose work like nobody’s business!  We have been to two dog obedience classes and have had a lot of fun.

Starting over with a brand new puppy is hard work!

I have forgotten all of the things that I must do to turn her into a good search dog.  Time to review some of my previous posts!

http://wp.me/pNjwk-iG – 10 Dynamite Tips for a New Search and Rescue Dog

Right now we are working on her recall.

I have fallen into the dog training trap nearly all of us have done at one time.  She has a fantastic recall at home. (She looks a lot like the roadrunner from the cartoons,) her feet all a blur when coming when called.  Alas, when we are out and about.  She can decide a blowing leaf, a blade of grass, or a pile of deer poo far more important than listening to me.  It seems like such a pain in the touche to grab the long line, treats, toys, and pile the dog in the car to drive to someplace new for every training session.  So, I convince myself I will do it tomorrow and simply train my dog in the living room.  BAD dog owner!  This is something that will come back and bite me in the touche.  It is like going to the gym or for a walk, no one wants to get up and do it, but once there you are glad you did. I timed my last training session outing and it only took 10 minutes all told!  That includes the drive to and from the park!

Lesson learned.

If you want a well behaved dog, you need to take little field trips.

Now shut up, put those shoes on, and get off that bum!

doublestack

The recall is very important to Search and Rescue dogs because we work air scenting dogs off leash. Forget the idea of the bloodhound dragging the handler around the woods.  Those are how tracking/trailing dogs work.  My dog can choose to chase deer, roll in poo, play with another dog, splash around in the stream, or work. He can play keep away and chase me games if he wants. Grom, my operational search dog choses to work instead.  He will even come back to a call or whistle blow while in hot persuit of a herd of deer!  How did I get such a wonderful recall?  Practice.

Practice at home with no distractions.  Then practice in many other places without distractions. Then add distractions working closer to the distractions and then working around more difficult distractions.

Best I get started then.

Posted in dog training, pets, Search and Rescue with tags , on January 18, 2013 by rattlerjen

What a beautiful day it was at training.  The weatherman assured us it would be warm and sunny in the afternoon, but it turned out to be foggy all day. Spooky and gorgeous.

We started off with some obedience practice with all of the dogs.  I think Grom did a bang up job on his recall and his down stay.  I do have to admit that our heeling is abysmal.  No worries, I taught him to walk on the right side so now I can teach him a proper heel on the LEFT side using only shaping techniques.  Yay, a fun project!

Molniya, our new puppy is learning what search and rescue is all about.  She absolutely loves everyone and everything.  She also gets (squirrel!) distracted very easily and has yet to figure out what she is supposed to do when she is taken out of the car.  I love puppies they are so CUTE!  Our little girl is one quick study.  This is her second time out of the car at training today and she quickly gets in to the barking for her toy.  I think she is well on her way to getting the hang of this thing!  Good girl.

Here she is a few days before.  She spent probably five minutes sniffing around before she decided to get her brain in gear.  She finally gave me a nice bark and got some very nice play.  Then, a man started throwing a ball for his off leash dog in the park.  WHOA!  puppy brain distraction major event!  I needed to end on a good note with her attention on barking for the toy, not for the awesome free dog with the ball running around. So, I moved her to the other side of my car where she could not see the other dog and tried again.  SCORE!  What a good girl.

Molniya Gets a uniform

Posted in life with a working dog, pets, Search and Rescue with tags , , on December 4, 2012 by rattlerjen

We received Molniya’s vest in the mail today.  It fits her perfectly.  Nothing looks better on a black dog.  At least her “brother,” Grom, thinks so.

Image

She is fitting in so well.  The best part is she loves to bark!

What sort of dog owner wants their dog to bark?  These people must be crazy!  We are teaching her to bark on command for her favorite toy.  Barking is what she will use to tell us she has found a missing person.  She will then get her toy reward for a job well done.

She fits in so well around here.  Molniya loves playing with her big brother, Grom. She also loves chasing balls in the backyard.  She loves bubbles most of all;  she will do anything for them!

Someone does need to tell her to stop trying to eat the stink bugs. EW!

10 Dynamite Tips for your New Search Puppy

Posted in dog training, howto, life with a working dog, pets, Rescue Training, Search and Rescue with tags , , , , , on May 20, 2011 by rattlerjen

You have done the research, found the right puppy for Search and Rescue, and brought her home.

Now what? Follow these ten tips to ensure your search dog fulfills his whole potential.

1. Do a Health Check

It happens, search dogs can get hurt.  Hop in your car with you new partner and head to the vet. Familiarize your puppy and yourself on vet examination procedures.  Find out how to take your puppy’s pulse, test his capillary reflex, learn the normal color of his gums, and take his temperature. Learn how to field check your dog by inspecting his entire body starting with the paws, working along his body to his head, eyes, ears, and mouth. Be sure to ask your vet about possible breed specific issues you need to watch for.  Consider buying pet health insurance and getting your pup miro-chipped. Finally, ask your vet to demonstrate how to properly brush your dog’s teeth, clip his nails, and clean his ears.

How to brush a dog’s teeth


Now, take what you have learned and practice with your dog at home.  Make it a fun game.  Be sure to start with very small training sessions with fun treats and work your way up.  Never force your puppy.  Stop while he is having fun. Go slow and be patient. Nail trimming video
Finally, practice with strangers.  Take several trips to the vet and see if you can recruit a vet tech or vet to help you practice.  You feed the treats, they perform the mini-exams.  Can you imagine a dog that LOVES going to the vet?

2. Socialize socialize socialize

Take your puppy places to meet as many new people as possible.  Some great locations are pet stores, outdoor malls, cafes, or even in front of the WallMart.

Protect your puppy! Your dog’s mental health and safety is your responsibility.  Teach others to approach and pet your dog the right way.  No one may touch your dog unless they ask first. Give the person a treat then have the person crouch down facing sideways.  If your dog approaches them, they may give him a treat and scratch his chin or chest. If your dog does not approach someone, that’s ok, it is his choice, don’t force him to say hi. Do not let anyone pet your dog without asking first.  Do not hesitate to put yourself between your dog and another person and sternly say, “STOP!” Never let anyone lean over the top of your dog or pat him on the head. If someone is not following your instructions, get them to stop by telling them your dog will pee on them.  It works every time!

I have found a “service dog in training” vest causes people to ask first before petting and generally be more respectful of my instructions. Be VERY wary of children, they can go from petting to smacking a dog in the face in an instant!  Keep socializing your dog as he grows.

3. Crate Train

Crates are used as a safe refuge for your dog,  great for potty training, a safe way to secure your dog in the car, and important for keeping your high drive working dog’s energy ready for a real search. For me, it is the only barrier between my dog’s teeth and my brand new running shoes!

dog in crate

Training your new puppy to adore his crate is easier than you might think.  Feed him exclusively in his crate, put treats, chew toys, or a peanut butter filled kong in his crate. Start slow. Leave the door open to begin with.  Next close door for only seconds moments at a time.  Then increase the amount of time the door is closed. If he starts to whine or cry keep the door closed and ignore him. Even if she cries for an hour straight. I know, it’s hard!  The moment she is silent open the door.  I now have a dog that immediately goes into his crate on command and makes not a peep.

4. Positive Puppy Obedience Classes

This is my secret to a well behaved dog around the ultimate distraction, other dogs!  The purpose of this class is not obedience, however.  You are simply using this class to teach your dog to pay attention to you when other dogs are around. Chose an APDT (positive or clicker training) certified training facility only for this.  Corrective training and equipment should be avoided.  Do not let your dog play with other puppies in this class, it will only teach your puppy that it is rewarding to ignore you and fun to play with other puppies.  YOU need to be the most fun in your working dog’s life, you cannot compete with a dog’s own kind.  Dog parks are no, no’s for a working dog.
I was lucky with my dogs. To teach my puppy proper doggie language and manners, I let him play with my geriatric German Shepherd.  She taught him how to have a soft mouth and how to act politely around other dogs.  Because of her age, she would tire out after only a few minutes of play helping me to trick him into thinking people are far more fun than dogs.  What a great excuse to adopt a well adjusted dog friendly dog from the animal shelter.
Find a good dog trainer here

5. You Are What You Eat

Your Search and Rescue dog is an athlete. Good nutrition is even more important for him than the average pet.  Big pet stores, grocery stores, and big box stores are a great place to buy pet gear, but rarely sells quality food. Learn to read and understand pet food labels, and chose a high quality fuel for your canine’s body.
Information about dog food

6. Unusual Spaces Unusual Places

Rescue dogs are able to climb open stairs, cross ravines along a fallen tree, scramble up shifting piles of rubble, and crawl through brambles and tunnels.  Teach your dog to be brave early.  Use treats to encourage him to experience as many different surfaces including slippery floors, fencing laid on the ground, tires, a big wobbly board, gravel, mud, ice, and metal sheeting. Let him explore open stairs, catwalks, swinging bridges, tunnels, ramps, places with loud noises, confined spaces, near farm animals,  and strange equipment.

Always let your dog to go at his own pace, never put him on something or force him near, into or across anything.  If your pup looks like he is ready to jump off of a piece of equipment, lift him off and put him on the ground yourself.  Do not let him make the decision to bail on his own.  Always have a spotter with you if your puppy is up on something off of the ground.  Treat, treat, treat your dog and he will thing strange things = treat = happy.

7. Start a Routine and stick to it

Schedule feeding time, potty time, exercise, training, and socialization for your puppy.  This will train his body, his mind, and your mindto the schedule and saving you lots of frustration in the future.  Once grown, your dog will eat and go potty like clockwork.  Predictability,  It’s a life saver!

8. Network with other SAR people with your dog breed

The world is full of a wealth of knowledge.  Use it to your advantage. Not everyone has the same answer to a problem. Dog breeds are all very different from one another. A border collie handler will have a different solution for the same problem than a lab person.  Other SAR groups will have different ideas as well.  Find a mentor with more experience than you to help guide your success, ideally one who has trained with the same breed of dog as yours and can meet with you and watch you train on a regular basis.  Have them help you sift through solutions others have given you.

9. Give Me That Toy!

My dog Grom loves to search.  It is his favorite thing the whole world.  He loves running through the woods, jumping in the mud, and sailing over fallen trees, but he works for his toy. Dogs work for a reward THIS is what SAR dogs are bred for, use it or lose it.  A high drive dog can become a floor mat and useless to SAR without it.  Can increase drive with aggitation up to 18 months.  Earlier the better. Favorite toy ONLY for sar. Never ever ever ever gets to even SEE it unless for SAR.  Use in drive work.  Learn to increase drive with someone who does Schutzhund or SAR with your particular dog breed.

10. Hide and Seek

Search and Rescue is simply a really long game of hide and seek.  Teach puppies to use their nose early. Hide their food so they have to use nose to find it.  Tease your puppy with a fun toy then hide it somewhere. Sneak away when your dog is not looking and find a nice hiding spot for yourself.  Then call your puppy’s name and throw a party when he finds you.

What Dog is Right for Search and Rescue

Posted in howto, life with a working dog, pets, Search and Rescue with tags , , , , on May 5, 2011 by rattlerjen

Search and Rescue can be a wonderful and rewarding job for a dog.  It is a challenge for both his physical body and his mind.  Most of all, it is lots of fun.

How come most of the search dogs I see are of certain breeds?

Breeds found to work well for search and rescue typically come from sporting and herding groups.

An air scenting wilderness search and rescue dog is an elite athlete. He will need a body adapted to running in both the heat and cold for very long periods of time. He must also be able to expertly climb up, under, and across obstacles fearlessly. The canine must also respond to commands as well as have high intelligence and problem solving skills.

Dog breeds that most commonly fit these specifications include, but are not limited to:

German shepherds, American Labrador Retrievers, golden retrievers, bloodhounds, border collies, and Belgian Malinois. I have seen mixed breeds, huskies, poodles, Australian shepherds, cattle dogs, and springer spaniels successfully certify as well.

The breed isn’t everything.

While rescuing a dog from the animal shelter is a good and noble thing.  It is also a commitment for the life of that dog.  If the rescued dog does not work out for Search and Rescue, will you be willing to keep that dog?

Often the true personality of the dog may not reveal itself until many months after he has lived with you.  Hidden medical conditions or behavioral problems caused by its breeding or past circumstances might arise that could end his working career, leaving you with a dog that needs a job and training.

Despite the risk, Shelters can often be a great place to find a good search dog. Dogs with too much energy tend to develop behavior problems such as barking, destruction, chewing, and digging if they are not kept busy. Most of the dogs surrendered are due to behavioral problems. If you are willing to brave the risks and can bring an expert along to help evaluate the dogs, go for it!

Say NO to pet stores.

Sadly, this is where many puppy mill dogs are sold. Puppy mills also have been caught selling their dogs by having people sell them out of their homes, posing as the original breeder and advertising in the newspaper.  If you buy a dog that may have come from a puppy mill, you are not saving a dog, you are contributing to their bad business. If you do visit a breeder, ask for references, veterinary records, hip X-rays (for breeds prone to hip displaysia), and to meet the dam and sire if possible.

A note on papers from the AKC and other show dog organizations: While it is nice the paperwork proves the genetic line of a dog, it cannot prove the health, temperament, intelligence, working ability, or living conditions of the dog.  Show dogs are bred for looks, not working ability. So, a dog from champion show lines does not in any way mean it will be a good working dog, too often the opposite tends to be true. The traits desirable in a working dog may be unintentionally bred out of the dog for looks instead.

Ok, so what am I supposed to look for?

Your best bet is to find a breeder who breeds dogs from working lines.

Look for a puppy with one or both of the parents is used for search and rescue, herding, bird dog, bomb or narcotics detection, schutzhund, agility, police, or military work. Your best bet is to meet with and talk to search and rescue groups in your area about the origins of their dogs.  Meet with many breeders and dog handlers to get a feel for the different dogs out there.  Training and living with a collie is a different experience than that of a lab and again different from a german shepherd.

The personality of the dog is also important.

Individual dogs have their own personality within a litter.  A good search dog is very curious, independent, playful with human strangers, confident, sociable, able to maintain concentration, and obedient.  A few puppy tests can be performed when observing the litter.  A good search dog candidate will want to greet you when you approach, not shy in the corner.  When separated from his litter mates, you will want a puppy curious with his surroundings.  He should also love to play with humans.  You can roll a ball past the puppy to see if he chases it or wave a rag around to see if he will chase it or play tug with you. Ask a search and rescue dog handler with experience in your breed of choice to help you pick out a puppy from a litter.

No matter what breed you decide to get or where it is from You will need a knowledgeable working dog handler to help you pick a dog with high drive.

Drive is the instincts that make dogs act the way they do. Prey drive is the eagerness to chase and catch and object or play tug of war. Food drive is the willingness to offer behavior in exchange for food.

A good working dog needs a drive high enough to work for hours without reward and the focus to ignore tempting distractions while working. The genetics of the dog determines the potential amount of drive the dog can manifest. Drive must be built with careful training before the dog matures. It’s a use it or lose it deal when they are young.

I already have a dog I want to train for SAR

The age of the dog is important

Consider, it takes two to three years to train and certify a dog for search and rescue.  Most dogs retire at the age of ten years.

Your dog’s daily life affects his ability to do SAR

If your dog frequently gets to play with other dogs at home or at the dog park he will likely not be interested in working for you.  Dogs consider other dogs more fun to play with than humans.  Also, if your dog gets to play with your kids or other folks when ever he wants, he will unlikely be interested in working. He is already getting everything he wants for free.

Will you have the ability to arrange a quiet place for your dog to rest during the day without interruption? Will you be able to train your dog every day? Are you ready for something that will likely replace all of your other hobbies? If the answers are yes, then welcome to the search and rescue world! Join a search and rescue team to get started in rewarding world of k9 search and rescue.

A search dog does his job because he gets rewarded.  

Searching is the best game your search and rescue dog will know.  Oh, and its fun for humans too.

Contact your local Search and Rescue group to help you get started.

American Rescue Dog Association

UK-  National Search and Rescue Dog Association

National SAR Organizations -(not maintained or represented by me, use at your own risk)

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