Help! My Dog Races Through Open Doors!

gypsyand1

Why wouldn’t a dog bolt through an open door? Because you teach him not to, that’s why! 🙂

Does your dog race through open doors and gates? Most people either pick up their dogs or hold the dog’s collar to prevent door bolting behaviors. Both of these actions “pay” the dog for trying to run through the door.

The ultimate pay is the chase and adventure of escape. Every time your dog escapes, and you chase him, you are increasing naughty behaviors!

Here is a simple exercise to teach your dog to wait patiently when people pass through doors and gates. The concept can be applied to other doors and gates after your dog perfects the skill at home.

Off leash obedience is an advanced skill, even when the dog is in a fenced area. Before you can expect your dog to obey when he or she is 50 feet away, first you should practice when the dog is on a short leash, then a long line.

Don’t let your dog be the last to know if he or she is invited to pass though the doorway and explore the neighborhood.

Teach Door!

Here’s how to teach your dog to wait while you pass through open doors or gates.

Prerequisite:

Time to perfection varies with the experience of the handler, the handler’s goals for distractions, and the experience of the dog.  A dog who has already perfected a few commands, and has not practiced escape behaviors can learn the general concept in one, 15 minute session.

Description: Teaches the dog to remain in one location when people enter and exit doorways.

Function: Default behavior when people open doors or gates

Before your dog learns this command, attach a leash and hold it so that your dog cannot practice bolting through doorways!

Like many training exercises, you’ll teach your dog in cycles. Each cycle introduces a bit more information and teaches your dog about distractions.

If, during any of these cycles of learning, your dog moves towards the door, communicate with actions, not words. Here’s what you should do if your dog moves towards the door.

A) Do not praise and treat.

B) At the first sign of failure, block the dog’s path with your body and body block or herd the dog back to the desired location. This teaches the dog that moving towards the door (when you say “door game”) is impossible.

C) Close the door (if applicable) and return your hand to your side. This teaches the dog that moving towards the door “makes” the door close.

D) Repeat the cycle, with a lesser distraction.

Step 4 of each cycle is when you increase the distraction.

Get creative with your distractions. Think of daily occurrences at the door, and magnify. Make your practice sessions “tougher” than real life.

For example, you may want to teach your dog to wait when you walk through the door backwards, dancing and singing a song!

Ideas for distractions:

marching in place;

reaching for the door;

touching the handle;

jiggling the handle;

turning the handle;

opening the door 3 inches and closing it;

opening the door 10 inches and closing it;

opening the door 2 feet and closing it;

taking 1 step towards the door;

taking 1 step away from the door;

walking into the door way;

walking through the door and back inside;

walking while carrying an interesting item;

items, people or animals on the “dog side” of the door;

items, people, or animals other side of the door;

people passing through the door

people passing through the door with items in their hand

Here are examples of how the initial 5 cycles might progress if the dog succeeds on each cycle. If the dog fails, back up a cycle or two and start again.

If you are working at an exit door without a fenced yard, attach a leash and hold the end of the leash during each cycle, or tether the end of the leash to something inside the house.

Notice the only difference between cycles is step 4.

Cycle 1

1) Say “Door” in an upbeat tone.

2) Push your hand outward towards your dog, palm facing the dog like a stop signal.

3) Wait 1 second and withdraw your “stop signal”.

4) Stand still for 3 seconds.

5) Deliver your reward marker.

6) Toss your dog a treat so that he moves from his current location to get the treat.

Cycle 2

1) Say “Door” in an upbeat tone.

2) Push your hand outward towards your dog, palm facing the dog like a stop signal.

3) Wait 1 second and withdraw your “stop signal”.

4) March in place for 3 seconds.

5) Deliver your reward marker.

6) Toss your dog a treat so that he moves from his current location to get the treat.

Cycle 3

1) Say “Door” in an upbeat tone.

2) Push your hand outward towards your dog, palm facing the dog like a stop signal.

3) Wait 1 second and withdraw your “stop signal”.

4) March in place and reach towards the door handle.

5) Deliver your reward marker.

6) Toss your dog a treat so that he moves from his current location to get the treat.

Cycle 4

1) Say “Door” in an upbeat tone.

2) Push your hand outward towards your dog, palm facing the dog like a stop signal.

3) Wait 1 second and withdraw your “stop signal”.

4) March in place and reach towards the door handle, jiggle the handle.

5) Deliver your reward marker.

6) Toss your dog a treat so that he moves from his current location to get the treat.

Cycle 5

1) Say “Door” in an upbeat tone.

2) Push your hand outward towards your dog, palm facing the dog like a stop signal.

3) Wait 1 second and withdraw your “stop signal”.

4) March in place and reach towards the door handle, jiggle the handle, open door 3 inches and then close the door.

5) Deliver your reward marker.

6) Toss your dog a treat so that he moves from his current location to get the treat.

Introduce more distractions during additional cycles. After each cycle give your dog a short tension rest. Deliver food treats, or verbal praise, quick game of tug, toss a ball, etc.

Once your dog is patiently waiting when the door is wide open, and you are walking in and out the door; enlist friends and family members to knock on your door. Once he perfect the ‘Door” command, you can add another cue. My favorite is a hand signal, a sort of back away motion with my hand, as my back is turned towards the dog.

Happy Training!

AT

Alan J Turner, Companion Animal Behavior Counselor & Trainer – Canine Specialization

Private and Group Dog Training in Memphis, TN

Owner: How’s Bentley

Member: APDT

Want to Teach Your 10 Week Old Puppy to Sit? Forget About it. :) It’s Too late. . .


SItDid you want to teach your 10 week old puppy to sit? Forget about it. 🙂 It’s too late.

That turbo charged puppy already knows how to perform every basic obedience command!

Your dog knows how to sit and lie down. He can stay.  Your pup knows how to walk towards you. Your puppy knows how to run to you. Your puppy dog can walk the same speed as you. That fellow knows how to dig, or “not dig”. Your puppy can bark, and he knows how to “not bark”.  He can certainly choose to jump up, or “not jump up”.

Your goals are to learn how to communicate to your dog WHEN, WHERE, HOW LONG, and WHY he or she should perform basic commands.  You will succeed if you build a relationship based on clear communication, and well managed rewards for cooperation.

21st Century dogs live in our homes and sleep in our bedrooms. Unlike most of the the last century when dogs were outside pets or workers, raising a dog to live inside your home requires much more than basic obedience.

Your dog’s behaviors are influenced by your behaviors, and the  relationship between you and your dog.

My goal is to help you achieve your goals via private or group services, and by providing free information.


Happy Training!

Alan J Turner – How’s Bentley Memphis TN

iPhone 3Gs Video ** Georgia Pit Bull Sweetie Romps in the South East

GeorgiaSay, Here’s a happy video of Georgia the Pit Bull terrier, romping in Memphis TN.  I used my iPhone 3Gs to make the video.

Like all breeds, a very small percentage of  pit bull terrier dogs are unpredictable, dangerous or violent. Georgia is the sweetest pit bull dog ever!

CLICK HERE for Video of Georgia, the pit bull terrier.

How’s Bentley – Alan J Turner – Memphis TN Dog Trainer

Animal News Network

iPhone 3G Jailbreak Video ** Bentley – Australian Terrier Battles the Wasp! Ouch

Australian TerrierClick the video link below to see Bentley, my 10 year old Australian terrier, battle the wasp in the bush.  He doesn’t seem to be too disturbed by the wasp sting. I used my jailbroken iPhone 3G to make the video.

How’s Bentley – Alan J Turner – Memphis TN Dog Trainer

Animal News Network
New iPhone app -Dog and Puppy Shake – Fun Facts and Trainer Truths
21st Century Dogs – Dog and Puppy Club

Meet Your Dog’s Physical Needs for Balance – Commercial, BARF, Frozen & Organic Diet, Food Choices

ReddogPhysical needs are related to the physical well-being of the dog. Routine vaccinations are one example of physical health requirements.

Grooming and bathing, quality food and clean water are other obvious needs. Shelter from environmental extremes and refuge from everyday household commotion are important for the physical health of your puppy.

The ability to move about, sufficient bathroom access, and daily exercise are components of physical needs.

Health Care

Routine Home, Health Inspections

Some health problems can be easily recognized by routine home, health inspections.

Ear infections are common, especially in dogs with floppy ears. If your dog is constantly shaking his or her head or scratching his or her ears, there’s likely to be an infection.

Ear infections are stinky. To determine if your pup’s ears are infected, place your nose directly into your pup’s ear and take a whiff. Do this a couple of times every week so you’ll notice any changes in the odor, before the infection develops into a serious problem. Contact your veterinarian if your dog’s ears are smelly!

Skin irritations are another common problem. Visually inspect your dog’s skin for signs of redness. In addition, you can sniff your dog’s skin. Any changes in the odor of your dog’s skin could be signs of a problem.

The consistency of your pup’s stools is another indicator of overall health. Generally speaking, you should be able to pick up your dog’s stools with a napkin. If your puppy has loose or runny stools, contact your vet.

Veterinarian Wellness Checkups

Wellness checkups are much more than disease protection and a quick once-over. Extensive blood work and a thorough examination are helpful for identifying potential health problems before they affect the life of your animal. Blood chemistry results are compared and contrasted from year to year.

Comprehensive wellness exams provide veterinary professionals with a baseline for measuring the pet’s medical health.

Disease Prevention

Check with your veterinarian if you have any questions related to the prevention of global or regional health threats to your dog. I live in Memphis, TN. In the southeast, we have a saying.

There are two types of dogs, dogs that are always on heart worm and parasite prevention and dogs that are on the path to contracting parasites and heart worm disease.

Grooming

To all social mammals, grooming is a form of social interaction, a sort of bonding exercise.

Routine grooming has benefits beyond a neat coat. Brushing stimulates healthy skin. Grooming teaches your dog to accept handling, a most helpful coping skill.

Some puppies accept grooming and others view handling as an opportunity to bite. Please read subsequent chapters about socialization and play biting for tips on how to teach your pup to accept routine grooming.

Bathing

Bathing requirements vary greatly from breed to breed, as do ear and dental examinations. Check with your veterinarian and groomer about a schedule best suited to your dog.

Dental Care

Dental problems can develop into dangerous, life threatening conditions. Dogs with squashed faces (brachycephalic breeds) are at a higher risk for developing dental problems than breeds with a wolf-like muzzle.  This is because the same number of teeth is condensed into a smaller area.

Dirty teeth can affect the health of the heart. Talk to your vet about starting a dental care program suitable for your breed.

There are many consumable products advertised to improve your dog’s dental health and breath. Chewing bones and other, hard, abrasive chew items can help to reduce tarter.

I’m not sure if eating a mint flavored chew item actually improves long-term breath or not. I have fed Bentley some of these and never noticed a long term change in the odor of his dog breath. Try some and see for yourself.

Diet Choices

Pet food is a multi-billion dollar industry. Choosing a food can be very frustrating because you will hear different advice from everyone.

If your dog is healthy and happy on his or her current diet, then my advice is to stick with that diet.

If your dog has chronic medical or behavioral health issues, then perhaps a diet change is warranted.

One of the first questions I hear from clients is, “What do you feed Bentley?”.

I feed Bentley a prescription diet purchased from my veterinarian because of his heath condition, chronic pancreatitis. A portion of his meal is canned food placed in a bowl. The remaining portion of his meals is dry food, delivered as treats when training.

Even though the ingredients are not what I consider to be of the highest quality, the balance of nutrition, fat, and protein is well suited for his medical condition.

Dry versus Wet Food

From a nutritional point of view, it stands to reason that wet or canned foods may contain more nutrients than their dry counterparts. Quality of ingredients, storage, and processing affect the nutritional value of all foods.

Many people claim that dry dog foods are better for dogs because dry foods help maintain clean teeth.

I’ll accept that dogs who actually chew dry food may receive some teeth-cleaning benefits from dry foods. But, I’ve met many dogs who only ate dry food and their teeth were very dirty. Maybe this is because they didn’t really chew the food or maybe it’s an individual trait of that dog.

For whatever reasons, some dogs need annual teeth cleaning by a veterinarian and other do not. Ask your vet for a teeth cleaning schedule that’s best for your dog.

Diet and Behavior

I am not a nutritional expert. I have absorbed information from those who I consider to be well educated in the field. I do know there is a link between diet and behavior.

Diet affects physical health. Physical health affects behavioral health.

Studies with children indicate that children who eat a balanced diet have a learning advantage over those who consume a less balanced diet.

Any parent will tell you that their child’s behavior is influenced by the amount of junk food the child consumes.

I always address diet when discussing problem behaviors.

There have been small studies about diet content and abnormal behaviors in animals. These studies claim that protein and carbohydrate levels can affect behavioral health.

My success with diet changes and behavioral improvements is unclear. Since I always present a multi-point behavior modification program which includes diet change, it’s difficult to measure the effects of the diet change.

In 1% of my behavior cases, changing the diet did cause dramatic improvements. I know this because the clients admittedly did nothing but change the dogs’ diets.

More apparent is the relationship between defecation and diet. Dogs who eat foods with more “junk” produce more, larger stools. Sometimes this can be a factor to consider while house training.

Commercial Foods

There are commercial foods marketed for toy dogs, working dogs, large breeds, puppies, adults, seniors, et cetera.

Some foods are advertised to be breed- specific, such as food especially for Yorkshire terriers.

I’m not sold on the necessity of selecting breed-specific foods, but I’m no expert. I avoid food marketed as suitable for all life stages.

Life-stage and weight control foods make sense to me.

Puppies require different levels of nutrients than seniors. Seniors need different levels of fiber, fat, protein, etc., than younger dogs. Overweight dogs should consume fewer calories.

Contact your veterinarian with any questions regarding the best food for your individual dog at his or her current life stage.

Rendered Foods

Dog foods contain ingredients that originate from the same sources as our people food. Lamb, rice, chicken and vegetables are common ingredients. The quality is usually of a lower grade than served to people.

Most commercial dry dog foods are rendered so that we can easily store and serve the product. Rendering is a type of heated reduction or extraction process in which fat soluble and water soluble products are separated from solid products.

Homemade Diets

There are some who profess that a B.A.R.F. diet is the best for our canine companions. Bones And Raw Food make up the B.A.R.F. diet. I haven’t been exposed to studies about the effectiveness of the diet, but I believe  the B.A.R.F. diet has merits.

Many people prefer to make their dogs’ food. There’s no question that fresh foods are more nutritious than processed foods.   I have no doubt that some people research and learn how to meet the nutritional requirements of their pets. Their dogs may indeed live longer, healthier lives than dogs on commercial diets of lesser quality.

Some of my concerns with homemade diets are related to balance and life stages.

Unless the people follow a well researched recipe, the animal may not receive necessary nutrients in the ideal quantities. In addition, life stage nutritional requirements may be overlooked in home made diets.

Another concern when discussing home made diets, especially the B.A.R.F. diet, is a group of bacteria known as salmonella.

Improper handling of raw foods places humans and pets at risk for illness.

Common symptoms of salmonella infection are diarrhea, fever, or abdominal cramps.

Frozen & Organic Diets

There are alternatives for those who do not want to prepare home made foods nor feed a traditional dog food. Frozen and freeze dried raw diets as well as organic dog foods are other choices.

I question some claims posted by some niche-food manufacturers.

I wonder how a very small company can purchase organic ingredients, process, package, (sometimes freeze), and ship the finished product for a fraction of the cost I would incur by only purchasing the same ingredients.

Add in the cost of business and payroll taxes, insurance, various other business expenses plus a small profit and the math simply does not support their claims.

These and other non-traditional dog food selections might be good choices for those who want to purchase a higher quality diet, assuming the maker follows sanitary guidelines, has a nutritionist on staff,  and uses the stated ingredients in quantity.

Table Scraps

Some people feed their dogs table scraps. Others pride themselves on never feeding people food. Some randomly toss food to their dogs when eating at the table.

Feeding dogs from the table can create a begging, obnoxious dog or can create a wonderfully polite dog!  It depends on the timing of the delivery. If you toss a bite immediately after your dog whines or barks, then obnoxious behaviors will increase. If you toss a piece when your dog is waiting quietly, then polite behaviors will increase.

Feeding table scraps might temporarily upset your dog’s digestive system.

In some instances, ingesting large quantities of high fat table scraps can permanently affect a dog’s digestive system.

I never feed Bentley substantial quantities of table scraps, but he does get people food.

Feeding table scraps will aggravate Bentley’s chronic pancreatitis.

I often let Bentley lick my empty plate. If he waits quietly and patiently, I rinse the plate and place it on the floor. Bentley doesn’t really get any food or food juices from the rinsed plate.

People Food Treats

Some people food can be used as training treats.

I often use carefully selected people food for training treats.

Many of my clients use boiled chicken, turkey, other low-fat meats, organic cereals, and bits of fruits and vegetables. All these are great training treats. Unsalted, plain popcorn is another favorite.

I do not feed high fat, high salt treats like corn and potato chips as well as any candy, cakes, ice cream or sweets.

Happy Training!

Alan J Turner

Canine Behavior Counselor – Memphis TN

Aggression, Fear, Puppy Manners, Obedience – Private and Group Animal Training and Behavior Services

Canine Behavior Modification for Reactive, Unwanted, Behaviors, including Fear and Aggression


LilyOkay, so your dog is fearful, barking, lunging and otherwise distressed when he or she sees people, trucks, cars, or dogs. Depending on who you are talking to, those behaviors may be classified as territory or protective aggression, possession aggression, inter-dog aggression, fear aggression, or leash aggression.

I’ll refer to the other people, other dogs, trucks, cars, as “triggers”, because they trigger the fear or aggression in your dog.

There are volumes of articles and books on how to modify fearful and aggressive behaviors in dogs. Some of the information may be helpful and other information is outdated and less helpful.

A canine modification plan is fluid. It changes as you progress. Because of all the variables, and the constant adjustments when treating fear and aggression in dogs, it’s not feasible for me to post all the methods and solutions I would use in a private consultation.

But I can give you this overview and some instructions that might work with your dog.

This article is about visual triggers. If your dog reacts to noises, the same concepts apply.

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First you need to change your dog’s perception of the triggers. Then you will use rewards to pay your dog for desirable, non reactive behaviors, when the trigger is in sight.

Before you actually do exercises with your dog in the field, please review this checklist.

Meet your dog’s physical, social and emotional needs.

Kindly prevent your dog from practicing unwanted reactive behaviors.

Establish a method to communicate precisely. Condition a reward marker.

Enact the Rewards Awareness Program.

Establish a Reward System.

Teach your dog “attention on cue” or “look”.

Practice “look” in various places with increasing levels of distractions (distractions should not be people or dogs or whatever triggers the unwanted, reactive, behaviors).

Teach your dog to sit on command.

Practice “sit” in various places with increasing levels of distractions (distractions should not be people or dogs or whatever triggers the unwanted, reactive, behaviors).

Teach your dog to bump your two-finger target to the cue, “here”.

Practice “here” in various places with increasing levels of distractions (distractions should not be people or dogs or whatever triggers the unwanted, reactive behaviors).

Teach your dog to walk nicely on a loose lead or to heel.

Practice walking nicely in various places with increasing levels of distractions (distractions should not include the triggers).

Optional: Obtain a Gentle Leader head collar or a Canny Collar. Introduce your dog to the head collar and practice with the head collar, so that your dog is not distracted by wearing the head collar. Head collars make it possible to safely move or control your dog’s pulling behaviors.

Optional: If your dog is “crazy excited” for squeaky toys or balls, get a couple of new ones and save them for these exercises. You can use the toys as rewards, or as distractions to get your dog’s attention when the triggers are too close.

Now you can begin the real work!

Identify the Threshold

Find the distance where your dog can see the trigger but not react with “out of control” barking, lunging, et cetera. I’ll refer to this distance as the threshold for reactivity. It may be 400 yards or 20 feet. It will change depending on the environment, your dog’s current emotional or physical state, or any number of factors.

The threshold is fluid, not static. You’ll need to find the threshold every time you start a practice session. Whatever it is right now, this distance or threshold will become shorter and shorter as you practice. You’ll always start each session outside the threshold.

Set up the Practice Session

For this step you’ll need the help of others. Their jobs will be to present the trigger outside the threshold, move a few steps closer and then move back outside the threshold.

If you don’t have any helpers, you can still set up the session. Go to a place where you are likely to see the triggers, such as a walking path at the park or a parking lot of a pet supply store. Get several feet off the path or away from the traffic, outside the threshold.

It helps if your dog is hungry. Do this before feeding time or withhold dinner and feed during these sessions.

Change your Dog’s Perception

Before you start with the triggers, ask your dog to perform a few simple commands such as “here’ or “sit”. This will engage your dog to pay attention to you!

Stand outside the threshold of a trigger. The instant you see the dog or person or car approaching, announce the trigger. Tell your dog something like “that’s a friend or that’s a truck” and immediately feed your dog several treats. Keep feeding until the trigger has retreated and is no longer nearby.

(If your starts barking or lunging, you are too close the the trigger, move away. If your dog starts to stare or looks like he or she might be ready to bark and lunge, command “here” and present your two finger target, or ask your dog to “look”. Either one of these commands gets the dog to look away from the trigger and focus on you.)

This sequence is called a cycle. You will hold many cycles during a session.

Between each cycle, give your dog a tension rest to absorb the recent events. The tension rest should be as as long as it took to perform the cycle. So, if the trigger is in sight for 10 seconds before it moves outside the threshold, the duration of the tension rest immediately after the cycle will be at least 10 seconds.

Repeat this process for at least 30 minutes per session. Perform another cycle followed by a tension rest. The idea is to change your dog’s immediate, involuntary responses to the trigger.

Instead of “oh no, there’s another dog, which is immediately followed by involuntary barking, fleeing, freezing or lunging (fight, flight, freeze behaviors), you want your dog’s initial involuntary response to the sight of the triggers to be anticipation of food. You are using classical conditioning to associate the trigger with the delivery of food. Your dog cannot be aggressive or fearful and salivate in anticipation of food at the same instant!

As you progress through the session, you will notice your dog will begin to ignore the trigger and focus on you and the food as soon as you announce the trigger. Perfect. Now you can move a bit closer to the trigger and continue. The threshold is getting shorter!

Repeat these sessions until your dog automatically looks towards you whenever a trigger is in sight. Continue to announce the triggers on routine walks, and anytime you are interacting with your dog, be it during a practice session, or not.

Real LIfe Ambush

If you get “ambushed” by a trigger during an outing, and you are not ready with several treats, kindly ask your dog to sit facing you, or to bump your two finger target. If she is too excited, move her away from the trigger and ask again. Repeat this sequence until your dog is far enough away that she will listen to your commands.

This basic method will work with most dogs, and most reactive behaviors, however it is not as efficient as perception modification via Syn Alia Training System.


Keep in mind, there are many factors about your relationship and your daily interactions with your dog that influence behaviors. In addition, your dog may be influenced by other dogs in the household, medical conditions, diet, nutrition, genetic and or neurological factors. If your dog constantly barks at triggers from inside the house, or fence fights with the dogs next door, the prognosis is poor.

You’ll need to prevent your dog from practicing fear and aggression if you want to succeed!

Happy Training!

Alan J Turner

How’s Bentley

Canine Behavior Modification for Fear, Aggression in Dogs – Memphis TN

New iPhone app -Dog and Puppy Shake – Fun Facts and Trainer Truths
21st Century Dogs – Dog and Puppy Club

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Doggie Poop, Pee on Command!

Duchess_IskiswitzWhen it’s cold outside, when traveling, or anytime you are about to leave the house, it’s wonderful when your dog will eliminate or potty on command.

It’s easy to teach your dog two different commands or cues, one for urination and one for defecation.

It helps if you are already familiar with your pup’s potty signature. Observe your pup closely so you’ll recognize when he is about to eliminate and you will recognize if he is going to urinate or defecate.

Choose three words or phrases– one for the act of moving to the bathroom area, another for urination, and a third command  for defecation.

I use “let’s go potty”, “pee“, and ”poop”. Choose phrases or words that suit you and your family.

Label Each Behavior

First, teach your dog the phrase for moving towards the bathroom area.  Before you go out the door with your pup, say “Let’s go potty”. When you are leading your dog to your preferred area, again say, “Let’s go potty”. This works best if you refrain from adding other comments. Just speak the three words, “let’s go potty”.

Many people repeat phrases over and over as they are walking around with their pup. It’s not helpful to repeat your commands over and over, two times is enough.

Watch your pup closely for signs of pre-elimination. When he is committed to the act, tell him what he’s doing.

For example, suppose your pup is sniffing, circling and is about to squat and urinate. Softly say “Piddle”. After he urinates, say “that’s piddle”, and immediately deliver the after-elimination rewards (treat and praise).  Play a quick game of ball or act silly and let your pup chase you.

Repeat the sequence for defecation; just replace “piddle” with your word for defecation.

Label the behaviors for the next day or so.

I’ve found that 4-6 instances of labeling are enough to teach most dog the names of the acts.

Teach your pup that good things happen immediately after he eliminates outside. Praise him; give him a special treat and initiate a game of fetch or chase – immediately after he eliminates. For now, deliver all food treats outside, at the elimination area, right after you praise your pup for eliminating outside.

After potty area conditioning occurs, delivering treats (as well as the timing of the delivery) won’t be important. You can give your dog a treat outside, after he comes inside – or not.

Cue the Behaviors

After a day or so of labeling each of the behaviors, you can transform the labels into commands or cues.

Perform these steps when you know your dog needs to eliminate. The first trip of the day is usually a good time.

Before you open the door, say “Let’s go potty”.  Lead your dog out to the area. Say “Piddle” and wait. Do not repeat the command. After your dog urinates, throw a party! Play a game. Toss your dog a treat. The idea is to teach your dog that fun stuff happens after elimination!

If your dog doesn’t urinate when you give the cue, don’t repeat the command. His hearing is better than yours!  He heard it; he just hasn’t caught on yet. Repeating the cue is not helpful. Just back up in this program and repeat the labeling sequences.

Once your dog learns the labels, he will eliminate on cue.

Most dogs always have a bit of urine in their bladders, so urinating on cue usually happens right away. Teaching your dog the cue for defecation requires a bit more planning. You’ll want to deliver that cue only when it’s time for your dog to have a bowel movement! Refer to your log and only deliver the cue for defecation when your dog is due a bowel movement.

Happy Training!
Alan J Turner – How’s Bentley Memphis

Untrained Dog Misbehaving? Attach a Leash. You are a Zookeeper.


German Shepherd DogIf you have a new puppy or dog, you need to manage the environment so your puppy does not practice rude behaviors. Use baby gates, crates, leashes, tethers to control your pup’s access to territory.

Many people overlook the most basic tool for controlling a dog inside the house, the leash. It’s a neat device that has a coupler on one end that attaches to your dog’s collar.

Several times a week, I hear people say, “my dog jumps up on guests or runs out the door at every opportunity”?   I suspect these people do not have a leash attached!

Off leash obedience is an advanced skill. No one would take their untrained dog for a walk, next to Poplar avenue, without attaching a leash. Why? Because they know their dogs are likely to go into the street, or chase a car ,or otherwise get into trouble.  They realize their dog is not trained, does not respond to voice commands, and they manage the environment by attaching a leash. With a leash attached, the dog is safely connected and unable to make stupid choices. GREAT!

Off leash obedience is an advanced skill, regardless if the location is inside or outside. Instead of waiting for your puppy to make mistakes, and attempting to teach via corrections, help your puppy make the right choices and reinforce good behaviors with rewards. You can kindly prevent your utrained dog from jumping up on guests, counter surfing, getting into the trash, or other wise destroying your home by attaching a leash or tether.

The long term solution for naughty behaviors is simple. Learn how to train your dog and then do it!

Here is an outline of your tasks:

Dog Training Success

  • Meet your dog’s social, emotional and physical needs.
  • Kindly prevent your pet from practicing unwanted behaviors. Attach a leash.
  • Learn how to tell your dog exactly what you want.
  • Learn how to motivate your dog to want the same things as you.
  • Change your behaviors in order to change your dog’s behaviors.
  • Form a global training plan.
  • Teach your dog coping skills.
  • Teach your dog basic commands.
  • Practice with your dog every day.
  • Practice with your dog in many different locations.
  • Practice with your dog while increasing the level of distractions.
  • Practice with your dog on a short leash, and then on a long line – before you go off leash.

Happy Training!

Alan J Turner

Certified Companion Animal Behavior Counselor & Trainer – Canine Specialization

The critical period of socialization for puppies begins when the ear canals open at about 21 days of age. The period ends anytime from 12 to 16 weeks of age.

West Highland TerrierYou have a very brief window of opportunity to socialize your puppy.

During the last century, experiments and studies concerning genetics and the social development of dogs were prevalent.

It is well documented that dogs that were deprived of social interactions with people and events during the sensitive or critical period of socialization were adversely affected.

The critical period of socialization begins when the ear canals open at about 21 days of age. The period ends anytime from 12 to 16 weeks of age.

Genetics and the Social Behavior of the Dog by John Paul Scott and John L. Fuller is a well-regarded book which documents experiments about the critical period of socialization.

Pups that are exposed to various events, multiple settings, other pups, other species, friendly dogs and a diverse mix of adults and children during early developmental periods are less likely to develop fearful or aggressive behaviors.

In addition, the normal physiological development of organs associated with the immune system can be enhanced or retarded because of increased or decreased early social interactions.

According to many studies, well-socialized puppies grow into dogs that navigate stressful situations well. Poorly socialized pups are more likely to become dogs that freeze, flee, or fight when presented with stressful changes in their environment.

Inside the circles of medical and behavioral health professionals, an ongoing controversy exists.

Medical health professionals are concerned about exposing non-vaccinated pups to life threatening diseases.

Veterinary personnel routinely instruct puppy owners to restrict their pup’s excursions into non-sterile outside environments until the pups are fully immunized at 16 weeks. Their advice is warranted. Dangerous health risks are present in public areas.

The deadly parvo virus can survive for months in the environment. Roundworms and other intestinal parasites can live for years in the soil.

Many dangers are passed via animals’ stools. If you are in a public area, don’t allow your puppy to sniff stools or other dogs’ rear ends!

Behavioral health experts contend that more dogs are relinquished or euthanized due to behavior problems than all medical conditions combined.

From a behavioral health point of view, pups should be exposed to diverse situations during the period from 8-16 weeks. With early exposures, fewer dogs would develop fearful and aggressive behaviors.  This controversy has a simple solution.

Expose your 8-16 week-old pup to stimulating situations that don’t threaten his or her developing immune system.

Take your young puppy on car rides, visits to friends and neighbors homes. Hold controlled play sessions with healthy, vaccinated pups and friendly dogs. Invite many people to your house so that your pup can meet all types of people.

Happy Training!

Alan J Turner, CBC  – How’s Bentley – Memphis TN

Certified Companion Animal Behavior Counselor – Canine Specialization


Teach Your Dog to Ring a Bell – for Potty Signal

RingBellMost people state they want their dogs to bark to signal the nedd to go outside to potty. I suggest teaching the dog to ring a bell instead of teaching the dog to bark. The dog will inevitably signal when she doesn’t need to use the bathroom but she does want you to interact. If you teach her to bark at you, she will learn to bark at you for attention.

If you teach her to ring a bell, you can always take the bell off the doorknob. In addition, you can take the bell to a hotel room, a friend’s house, the basement, or anywhere you want.

I suggest placing a bell on a string and hanging the string on the doorknob, but you can always hang the bell on your easy chair, kitchen island, bed post, or anywhere you like. Hobby and craft supply stores carry the ball-like bells in several sizes. String two or three on a leather string for a full sound!

Some people use a wireless doorbell and teach the dog to push the button with her paw or nose. This allows them to place the ringer near to them, when the door and the dog may be rooms away. This requires a bit more training to teach the dog to bump the button hard enough to ring the wireless bell.

Method two is best if you want to use a wireless doorbell.

It doesn’t matter where you place the bell or if you use a wireless doorbell. The concepts for teaching are the same. Just adapt these instructions for your situation. There are several ways to teach your dog to bump a bell to signal a desire to go out. I’ll list two of them here.

Method One is simple to follow but may take some dogs longer to learn.

Method Two takes more time and thought and effort, but works with all dogs and is best if you want to use a wireless doorbell. You decide which Method is best for you!

Method One

Hang a bell on the door that Caroline exits to go potty. Leave the bell on the door from this point forward. Before you ever touch the doorknob, reach down and bump the bell with your hand.

Always bump the bell with your hand, and then open the door. Do this for several days.

If she sniffs or noses the bell, make a fuss as you praise her and then open the door. If you want, you can speed up the process by placing a teeny tiny bit of peanut butter on the bell. When she sniffs or licks it, praise her, open the door and walk her to the elimination area. Give the command to potty. After she eliminates, give her a treat, play with her, toss a ball, take a walk, et cetera.

Once she learns that interacting with the

bell makes you open the door, you can teach her to bump it with her nose. Just ignore her when she sniffs or licks and she will “sniff harder”. Wait until she bumps the bell just a bit harder.

There are many variations for Method One.

Some people gently take the dog’s paw and strike the bell before they go out.

If your dog knows how to shake, you can cup the bell in your hand to get your dog accustomed to pawing the bell. Experiment with variations and see which works best for your pup!

Method Two

This is the method you can use to teach your dog to bump a doorbell button or a bell hanging from the door. Just adapt the instructions to your situation.

Some dogs and some trainers might skip a step or perform additional steps. Use this outline as a guide to develop your own program.

After step 1, perform each step in very short sessions over the next few days.

Do not move on to the next step until you are sure that Caroline knows the current step.

If Caroline seems confused, go back to the last step that she understands and work from that point forward.

Teach Caroline:

1. a signal that will communicate success and motivate her

2. to bump the bell

3. to bump the bell when it is

hanging on the door

4. to bump the bell and then step

outside

5. to bump the bell, step outside

and walk to the elimination area

6. to bump the bell, step outside,

walk to the elimination area and

eliminate

Before you can teach any animal, you must be able to communicate what you want and you must be able to motivate the animal to want the same thing.

At the very least, you should be able to tell the animal the instant he or she has succeeded. Some people use a clicker to communicate the instant of success, but you don’t need a clicker to communicate.

You can pair any unique word or sound with treats and create your own unique signal. It is best if the word is not a common word; it should stand out as a unique signal. Initially, you’ll pair the signal or marker with food treats so the dog will be motivated to perform behaviors that cause you to deliver the signal. I use the word “kick” for the signal.

Step 1

Teach Caroline a signal that will communicate success and motivate her.

Say “kick”, and say it quick, like a sound instead of the actual word. Immediately toss Caroline a soft and tasty, bite-sized treat. Repeat ‘kick and treat’, 3-8 times. By now the sound should be conditioned and you should have her attention.

To test the signal, wait until Caroline is not looking at you but is close by. Say “kick” one time. She should turn her head towards you really fast. If not, just stop the exercise and start from the beginning at another time.

Say nothing else during this exercise.

The “kick sound” must precede the treat, so be sure and wait a second before you toss the treat. Once you have conditioned “kick”, you have a great tool to tell Caroline the instant she creates wanted behaviors.

You’ll mark the instant of success with the word “kick” and follow the ‘kick’ with good stuff, like a treat, toss of a ball, verbal praise or a quick pat.

Once kick is conditioned, you don’t need to repeat this step and you don’t need to deliver the treat immediately after the kick (marker). You can deliver the treat or good stuff several seconds after the marker.

Step 2

Teach Caroline to touch a bell hanging on a string in your hand.

Hold the string so the bell is at Caroline’s nose height, an inch away from her nose. Say nothing. Wait until Caroline sniffs the bell with her nose.

The instant her nose touches the bell, say kick and then immediately deliver a food

treat.

Perform this step several times, but hold the bell just a bit farther and farther away from her nose each time. Say kick the instant she touches it and then give her a food treat. Practice 5-8 times and then place the bell in a drawer or out of sight.

Hold a few sessions just like the first one until Caroline becomes excited when she sees you get the bell out of the drawer. Go to step 3 after Caroline will readily bump the bell whenever she has the opportunity.

Step 3

Teach Caroline to touch the bell when it’s hanging on the doorknob.

Hang the string on the doorknob so that the bell is at Caroline’s nose height. Sit or stand next to the bell. When she touches the bell on a string attached to your doorknob, say kick and then immediately deliver a tasty treat. Repeat 5-8 times per session. After each session, place the bell in a drawer or out of sight.

Step 4

Teach Caroline that the treat after the “kick” is delivered right outside the door.

When she touches the bell on a string attached to your doorknob, say kick, open the door; walk outside and then deliver the treat right outside the door. Repeat 5-8 times per session.

After each session, place the bell in a drawer or out of sight.

Step 5

Teach Caroline that the treat after the “kick” is delivered after she walks to the elimination area.

Same as step 4 but walk to the elimination area (she will probably follow you) and deliver the treat there. Repeat 5-8 times per session. After each session, place the bell in a drawer or out of sight.

Step 6

Teach Caroline that the treat after the “kick” is delivered outside at the elimination area after she eliminates.

Introduce this step when you know she needs to eliminate, such as her first outing in the morning.

Same as Step 6 but once you arrive at the elimination area, give her your command for potty and then give her a treat after she eliminates. Practice this step the next few mornings – and any other times throughout the day that you know Caroline needs to eliminate.

After a few days of practicing step 6, you can drop the word “kick” and the food treat from the sequence. Instead of a food treat, praise her, play fetch, or take her on a walk. Now, you can leave the bell on the doorknob.

When she rings the bell, say something like, “Ok, you need to potty?” and walk her outside to the elimination area. Give her the cue to eliminate.

After she eliminates, deliver something good. Toss a ball or take her for a walk in the neighborhood.

At his point, it’s important to always open the door and go out to the elimination area every time she bumps the bell. If she eliminates, then give her a treat. If she doesn’t eliminate after you’ve given the command, just go back inside. You can leave her out of not, depending on how you feel about your dog being in the yard alone.

After a few days, you can stop walking

all the way to the elimination area and

stop giving her the command to eliminate.

Just open the door and walk halfway to the area. If she eliminates, perfect, give her a reward!

Over the next few days, reduce the amount of steps you take towards the elimination area.

In about a week, you should be able to wait at the door while Caroline goes out to eliminate.

It’s okay to give her a treat after she returns, for now she knows the treat is for eliminating, not for returning.

Some dogs learn to ring the bell to get you to interact, but they don’t need to eliminate. Keep a log of feeding and elimination. This will help you recognize the times she needs to go outside. If Caroline bumps the bell when she does not have to eliminate, she is telling you that she wants more mental and physical stimulation. Consider taking her for a walk or holding a short training session to stimulate her!

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Happy Training!

Alan J Turner

Companion Animal Behavior Counselor – Canine Specialization

How’s Bentley Memphis TN

Private and Group Puppy Obedience Courses


Why Use a Crate? Puppy Confinement & Crate Training Overview

Bichon1Dogs are den animals and contrary to misconceptions, (when introduced and used properly), dogs will readily enter their crates and relax, regardless of the level of activity near the crate.

Dogs should never be crated or left unsupervised while fitted with any types of harnesses or collars, except a break-away collar.

Please fit your dog with a break-away collar for any events or activities that do not include direct supervision by a responsible adult.

Here are some examples of why and when to use a crate.  Use a crate:

  • for house training
  • to protect your property
  • to keep your dog safe
  • when traveling
  • for overnight outings
  • to rotate two dogs while training
  • for stays at vet clinics, groomers
  • to provide a den or safe spot for resting
  • to restrict dogs’ access to visitors
  • to limit activity during medical recovery periods
  • to give yourself a break

Confinement Overview

During my consultations with clients, I meet people who use laundry rooms, garages or back porches instead of crates. Some in this group report that their dogs constantly bark or whine. What they don’t realize is that dogs, like humans, are social mammals.

Most dogs want to be near us! A simple solution is to kindly introduce the dog to a crate and place the crate in a room with people. This often solves the barking problem.

Opposition to the proper use of crates is more often a reflection of how we feel about confinement (as humans).

Millions of dogs live full, happy lives with a crate as part of their daily routines.

If you are opposed to crating your unsupervised dog, use other, less effective, confinement tools such as laundry rooms, baby gates and exercise pens.

If you don’t use any barriers, expect problems with house training. Expect soiled carpets and destruction of your property.

Many people only confine their dogs when they are away or at night. Pups and dogs normally relax when away from their people in these low activity situations.

These same dogs may bark and whine if confined when their people are home and moving about.

This is because the dogs were not introduced to the concept of being confined when people are home and active. More than likely the dogs were placed in the crate immediately before the people left the house or went to bed.

A crate trained dog:

  • will not eliminate in the crate
  • readily enters the crate when asked
  • relaxes in the crate when alone in the home
  • relaxes in the crate when people are home and active
  • relaxes in the crate when other animals are not crated