Easy & Lazy: Sit in a Chair & Teach Your Dog or Puppy to Lie Down!

LABCaptureOf all the methods to teach a dog to lie down, capturing is the easiest, but it is seldom used because people do not understand or believe it will be effective.

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Capture is when you set up the environment for the behavior to occur, or just wait for the dog to perform the behavior, then you mark and deliver a treat. You don’t say anything, or offer a food lure, or provide any other input before the dog performs the target behavior.

Another reason my clients are hesitant to try and capture the down is because most people are determined to insert the word “down” when first teaching the behavior.

Telling dogs “down” does nothing to help the dogs learn the behavior. If anything it sends the dogs misinformation, because most people repeat the word, as if the word will help the dog to lie down.

Once the dog learns the behavior, you can slip the cue or command into the sequence, immediately before the dog performs the behavior. You’ll teach the dog the behavior first, then you teach the dog a command for the behavior.

You will need to condition a reward marker to use the capture method. If you are not familiar with reward markers, or capturing behaviors, please visit this page to learn how to condition an instant reward marker, and capture sit for folded arms, BEFORE you capture down.

Dogs sit numerous times every day, therefore “capture sit for folded arms” is very easy and effective. The exercise is as much a teaching exercise for the handler as it is for the dog. The handler learns about timing and how to teach a dog without a food lure, and without offering any physical input. The dog learns that he or she “makes” the marker occur. Once a dog understands this concept, you are ready to capture other, less frequent behaviors.

Assuming you have conditioned a reward marker, here are the steps to capture down. Teach down when your puppy dog is more likely to lie down, such as late in the evening or after exercise.

I like to do this when I am seated and watching TV, because I am lazy. 🙂

With your dog in the same area as you, you watch and wait for the dog to lie down, you mark the instant the dog’s belly touches the floor. Then toss a food treat on the floor, in between your dog’s front legs. Do this several times during a 2 hour period.

Do not speak to or touch your dog before, or immediately after he or she lies down. The only relevant events are belly touch floor, sound of the marker, food treat.

It may take more than one session of capturing the down before your dog catches on.

You can add the verbal command after your dog learns the behavior. You’ll know when your dog has “got it”. He or she will come over to you and plop down. When you notice this, do not mark the belly touch, just look at your dog. If your dog looks at you with that “hey stoooopid, I did it, where’s the marker and treat?”, then you can speak the word down, before the dog lies down. Repeat a few times, but now say the word “down” before your dog lies down. There you have it!

Happy Training!
Alan J Turner – Companion Animal Behavior Counselor and Trainer, Canine Specialization
How’s Bentley – Memphis, Collierville, Germantown TN
21st Century Canine Relationship Solutions
Group Dog Obedience Classes
Private Dog Training in Memphis TN
Reactive Dog Specialist

**Danger! Don’t Kill Your Dog! Use Breakaway Collar for Safety

LOvePuppyIf you leave your dog unattended in the yard, laundry room, garage or kennel, beware! Your dog’s buckle or choke collar could kill! Every year, many dogs meet an untimely death from hanging via their collars.

If you have more than one dog, play can morph into a tragedy! One dog’s tooth can get caught on the other dog’s collar. It happens very quickly, so even if you watch your dogs play, please protect your dogs with a breakaway collar.

When your dog is exploring an area, unattended, items such as patio furniture, fencing, bar-b-q grills are potential death traps. Don’t let this happen to you. Sit Stay sells a breakaway dog collar, made by Premier Pet Products. Fit your dog with the correct size to keep that rascal safe!

Click on the image to visit Sit Stay and protect your dog or puppy today.
Premier Breakaway, Med. 3/4

Happy Training!

Alan J Turner

Teach Your Dog Commands for Moving Through Doorways – Inside / Outside

Bent_InsideInside – Outside

Description: The dog moves through an open door on command, on and off leash.

Function: Teach the dog to move through doors on command.

Prerequisites: Condition a reward marker; “Sit”, “Attention – Without Cue”;

Target Here”

Time: 4 Days

Many of my clients complain that their dogs will not enter and exit their houses on command. The dogs ignore their owners, stand and look at their owners, or run away.

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.

There are many reasons a dog might not be motivated to obey. Some dogs may prefer the inside because of the weather outside. If an owner has a history of calling their dog inside, placing the dog in  the crate, and leaving the house, the dog may remember and be hesitant to come inside. Other dogs like to chase critters and bark at noises outside.

Regardless of the underlying reasons, training and practice is the solution. I use the “Inside – Outside” game to teach dogs to move through doorways. To play the game, follow these suggestions.

First Day:

Place your dog on a 6 foot leash.

Stand inside your house next to an exit door.

Tell your dog to sit. Praise your dog for the sit.

Tell your dog, “Outside”.

Open the door and walk outside. Don’t pull that rascal through the door. Make some “kissy” noises to charm your dog as you and your dog walk through the door to the outside. Mark the instant he or she passes through the doorway.

Close the door.

Drop the leash.

Toss a treat on the ground outside, several feet away from the door.

Pick up the leash.

Tell your dog to sit. Praise your dog for the sit.

Tell your dog, “Inside”.

Open the door and walk inside. Don’t pull that rascal through the door. Use your voice to charm your dog as you and your dog walk through the door to the inside.

Mark the instant he or she passes through the doorway.

Close the door.

Drop the leash.

Toss a treat on the floor inside, several feet away from the door.

Repeat the sequence 2 more times for a total of 6 trials (3 Outside – 3 Inside) during each practice session. Hold 3 of these practice sessions every day. End each session with a walk, a game of fetch, or any of your dog’s favorite play activities.

Next Day:

Play the Inside – Outside game 3 times each day for a total of 18 trials. Practice at each door you plan to enter and exit with your dog during each session. For example, if you use 2 doors, practice the sequence 2 times at 1 door and 1 time at the other door. If you have 3 doors, practice one sequence at each door.

Third Day:

Stand inside your house next to an exit door to a fenced area, with no leash attached.

Call your dog, using the two-finger target.

Mark the instant your dog touches the target and immediately tell your dog to sit. Praise your dog for the sit.

Tell your dog, “Outside”.

Open the door.

Step into the door opening.

Your dog will pass through the door.

Mark the instant he or she passes through the doorway.

Toss a treat on the ground outside, several feet away from the door.

Close the door. Your dog will be on the outside and you will be on the inside.

Immediately walk outside. Close the door.

Call your dog, using the two-finger target.

Mark the instant your dog touches the target and immediately tell your dog to sit. Praise your dog for the sit.

Open the door and tell your dog, “Inside”.

Step into the door opening. Your dog will pass through the door. Mark the instant he or she passes through the doorway.

Toss a treat on the floor inside, several feet away from the door. Close the door. Your dog will be on the inside and you will be on the outside.

Repeat the sequence 2 more times for a total of 6 trials (3 Outside – 3 Inside) during each practice session. Hold 3 of these practice sessions every day. End each session with a walk, a game of fetch, or any of your dog’s favorite play activities.

Fourth Day:

Fade the marker and the food treat, and reduce your motion of moving into the doorway. When your dog moves through the door, offer verbal praise and toss a ball or a toy instead of a treat. You can step inside or outside with your dog, or not.

Stand inside your house next to an exit door to a fenced area, with no leash attached.

Tell your dog to sit. Praise your dog for the sit.

Tell your dog, “Outside”.

Open the door.

Your dog will pass through the door.

Praise your dog.

Toss a ball or toy outside, several feet away from the door.

Close the door. Your dog will be on the outside and you will be on the inside.

Open the door and walk outside. Close the door.

Tell your dog to sit. Praise your dog for the sit.

Open the door and tell your dog, “Inside”.

Your dog will pass through the door.

Close the door. Your dog will be on the inside and you will be on the outside.

Repeat the sequence 2 more times for a total of 6 trials (3 Outside – 3 Inside) during each practice session. Hold 3 of these practice sessions every day. End each session with a walk, a game of fetch, or any of your dog’s favorite play activities.



Does Your Dog or Puppy Pull on Walks? Start with the Basics. Capture & Teach Attention!

bentleyfielddisc1Dogs and puppies pull during walks because, from their points of view, it works. They get to move forward when they feel the pressure of the collar or harness against their bodies. Every time your dog pulls while walking on lead, he or she is learning to pull. The behavior is being fertilized! It will grow and become strong. Yikes!

There are many methods and tools one might use to teach a dog or puppy to walk nicely on a leash. Many people are content to only “halfway” address the behavior. This is evident by the number of people who use pinch collars, choke collars, Gentle Leader head collars, no-pull harnesses, Weiss Walkie, or any other STOP pulling equipment, forever. Their dogs will not walk nicely unless the threat of discomfort is present via the fitted equipment. The equipment is a condition for “walking nicely” behavior. Without the equipment, the dog pulls. With the equipment, the dog heels by the handler’s side or walks on a loose lead.

What I meant by “halfway” is this: the tools and equipment, just like verbal corrections and jerking the leash, are designed to STOP pulling. That’s okay by me; you can use the equipment forever and your dog will not pull. But, do not confuse that with teaching your dog to walk nicely or to heel. What you have done is convinced your dog to walk nicely by the threat of equipment pressure! My goal is to use the equipment as a temporary aid, while I teach the dog to walk nicely. Then I can use the equipment or not, depending on the environment.

My current favorite tool for controlling an exuberant dog during walks is the Canny Collar.

If you want to discontinue the use of equipment, you have two target goals. One is to STOP the pulling behavior, the other is to START “walking nicely” behavior!

I know what you are thinking, “my dog always pulls on walks; how can I use rewards to increase good behaviors if the dog never ever walks without pulling?”

Glad you asked. Start with the basics. Teach your dog to stand with you on a loose lead, before you teach your dog to walk without pulling.

First you’ll teach your dog to stand near to you, with a loose lead, before you ever start walking. You will teach a command that means, “look towards me, I will pay you!” I call this Attention on Cue – while standing”.

Next, you will practice “Attention-on-cue” in many different locations, while adding distractions. Then you practice “Attention on Cue – while walking”. Take a step or two with your dog and ask for the look.

Finally you teach your dog “Attention without Cue – while standing”, then “Attention without Cue – while walking”. “Attention without cue” is when your dog checks in or looks at you voluntarily, without any commands or cues from you.

Once your dog has mastered “Attention”, you can start working on loose lead walking or heel. With a bit of time and effort (and the knowledge to teach attention), you can discard your pinch collar, choke collar, Gentle Leader head collar, et cetera!

Visit this page to learn how to teach your dog Attention-on-Cue, While Standing.

Attention-on-Cue, While Walking

After your dog has mastered Attention-on-Cue, While Standing, it’s time to add the distraction of walking.

This skill is a component of “walk-on-loose-lead”. It would be better to play without a leash, in a hall or narrow walkway, until your dog learns the game. Then you can practice in the back yard or on leash in public.

I taught Bentley this behavior on my narrow, front patio walkway. I started the game at the gate, so Bentley had only one direction to walk.


Get some high-value treats. Start at the end of the hall or narrow walkway. Practice “attention-on-cue, while standing”. Perform 2 to 3 trials.

Then somehow get your dog to walk ahead of you as you both start walking. I told Bentley “this way” and started walking forward, but you don’t necessarily need a cue. Just start walking and your dog will probably start walking too.

As soon as your dog is “a dog’s length” ahead, give your attention-on-cue command. Mark the instant your dog turns his or her head towards you.

Walk back to the starting point (end of hall) to deliver the treat. This is called one cycle or trial. The cycle began when you started walking and ended after you delivered the treat.

Repeat, but on the next trial, let your dog get 2 dog lengths ahead before you give the cue.

On the subsequent trials, you’ll increase the distance by one dog length each trial. For example, your dog will be 5 dog lengths ahead before you give the command during cycle 5.

Increase the distance during each trial until your dog will look back towards you when he or he or she is 8-10 feet ahead.

.

The distance change from cycle to cycle can be very small or large. In the example, I used one dog length as starting distance and increased the distance by one dog length each cycle. You might start at one foot or even 1″ . . . whatever it takes to get the behavior.

Once your dog will perform without distractions, ask someone to stand in the hall while you practice. Then ask them to move their arms, tap their feet, sing, et cetera, while you practice. The goal is for them to become just a wee bit more exciting from cycle to cycle.

After your dog has mastered the behavior in the hall or narrow walkway with distractions, move to a different area with different distractions.

Even though your dog performs well inside, with minimal distractions, be prepared to repeat the beginning steps of the exercise whenever you add distractions.

Attention – Without Cue

Attention-without-cue is helpful when you are interacting with the dog and you want the dog to ignore other distractions and stay connected to you. This is a prerequisite for loose lead walking.

Here’s how to teach the dog to stay connected to you.

This exercise places the responsibility of ‘staying connected’ on the dog, not the handler.

Place your dog on a 6 foot leash. Stand quietly in one area. Your dog will sniff and explore. Be patient. Say nothing. Wait until the dog looks at you.

MARK the instant the dog turns his head towards you and then deliver a treat. Repeat until the dog is constantly looking at you. When this occurs, move to a different location a few feet away. The dog will be momentarily distracted. Repeat the process in the new location. Do this in 3 different locations each session. Hold 3 sessions each day for optimal results!

Once the dog gets better at volunteering the look, repeat the process with a longer leash. A longer leash gives the dog more choices of things to explore, which is the next grade or level of distraction.

As you practice this behavior, you can add other distractions like people standing or walking, other dogs, et cetera.

Once your dog is voluntarily checking in while you are standing, wait until your dog is not looking and take a step or two. If he or she moves with you or turns towards you, mark the instant he starts to move. This is a great way to begin teaching your dog to walk nicely on a lead.


Happy Training!

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

Private and Group Dog Training in Memphis TN

Owner: How’s Bentley

To Play . . or Not to Play. . . Will Tug of War Make My Puppy Aggressive?

Australian Terrier Puppy
Australian Terrier Puppy

Tug is defined “to pull hard” by Webster’s online dictionary. People play tug with their dogs by pulling on an item the dog is holding in his or her mouth. To win at tug, you take the item away from your dog.

Many of my clients ask me, “Is it okay to play tug with my puppy?” Good question. I know why you ask.

Tug of war is one of those controversial topics.  Some people believe it’s okay to play tug if the human always wins.  Other state. “playing tug will increase unwanted aggressive behaviors”.  These people tell others to avoid the game of tug with their dogs. I’m not sure why. I suspect these people promote concepts like alpha and dominance. The stronger animal is the boss and the weaker animal submits, right?

If you have visited a few pages on this site, you already know my thoughts on alpha.

I do not coach my clients to compete with their dogs for anything. I do not believe alpha comes into play between people and dogs. Click here to read my controversial article “Forget About Alpha”.

Okay, here are my thoughts on playing tug with puppies and dogs. The simple answer is, ‘it depends”. Tug can be a wonderful teaching game and reward for some dogs. Tug can be a dangerous game with some dogs, without some guidelines to keep it safe and fun.

If your dog exhibits aggressive behaviors, directed at you, then tug is probably not a good game for you and your dog! Young children should not play tug with a puppy who does not know the rules. Play biting kids is a puppy’s favorite pastime. Please click this link about play biting and kids if you have children in the house.

Here are some ideas on teaching puppies and dogs about tug.

You do not want to play tug with your socks, especially when still attached to your feet. To prevent tug games with the wrong items, purchase 1 or 2 tug toys. Once your puppy knows the rules you can play tug with whatever you wish. Tug toys are made for tug and have easy grip handles. Longer rope toys with handles or knots make for good tugging! Keep the tug toys away from your dog, unless you are playing tug. That means the toys should not be in his or her toy box, for them to play with and chew. These toys only come out when you want to play tug!
Here’s one of the best, rope tug toys.

Click the words
Tuff E Nuff Tug, Large
to visit Sit Stay and shop for tug toys.
TUFFENUFF.lg

Tuff E Nuff Tug, Large

It’s normal for puppies and dogs to growl and snarl when playing tug. Look for other body posturing that indicate your puppy is playing, not fighting. If your puppy’s butt is in the air and his or her front legs are on the ground, that’s a play bow. Your puppy wants to play!

When your puppy “accidently” makes teeth on skin contact (and he or she will) the game should end. Tell your puppy something like , “oops, you blew it”, and then walk away. If possible, take the toy away. Wait a minute or so, until your puppy is less excited, and then resume play.

Teach your puppy a signal that ends the game. I use “Game Over, then ask for the Drop.

Drop is useful for many games and situations. If your puppy does not know drop, give or trade, tug is a good game to use for teaching. Click this sentence for instructions on teaching your puppy to drop.

Use common sense about playing with your puppy. Puppies do not know how to play with humans. Avoid games that include rough play with your hands, tumbling or roughing up the puppy. This will send your puppy the wrong signals and increase play biting as well as other inappropriate play behaviors.

Happy Training!

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

How’s Bentley – Memphis, Collierville, Germantown TN

21st Century Canine Relationship Solutions

Group Dog Obedience Classes

Private Dog Training in Memphis TN

Reactive Dog Specialist

Does Your Dog Own You? Resource Guarding of Territory, Food, Items, or People

Ace_BallResource guarding is when dogs posture, growl, snarl, bark,  snap, lunge, or bite for reasons we believe are efforts to keep other animals or people away from what they consider to be valuable resources.

Resources include food, territory, items and persons.

Food related aggression, territory aggression, and possession aggression are specific labels for different types of resource guarding.

Resource guarding can be confused with protection aggression and fear aggression.  People believe their dogs are protecting them, when in reality, the dogs are guarding what they believe to be their property, or the dogs are exhibiting fear aggression. Fear aggression is often present with territory aggression. Resolving the fear issue is the solution.  A behavioral history, questionnaire, careful observation,  and testing can usually identify the specific types of aggression.

In my experiences, resource guarding is commonly directed at other dogs, which many people accept or manage. When the aggression is directed at people, I am likely to get a new client.

Food related aggression is seen more often when high value rawhides, bullie sticks, pigs ears, etc.  are involved.

Some dogs guard dry dog food (less common), and severe cases involve dogs that guard empty bowls, and feeding or food preparation locations.

Territory aggression is when dogs posture, growl, snarl, bark,  snap, lunge, or bite when animals or people approach specific areas. Clearly defined areas, such as fenced yards, motor vehicles, homes, crates, kennels, rooms, chairs, couches, beds, and areas underneath furniture are guarded by dogs who exhibit territory aggression.

Less defined territories, such as doorways, and the areas within the length of the dog’s leash or tie out can be considered valuable by some dogs.

Possesive aggression is when dogs guard non-food items, regardless of the location.  Common items are toys, and stolen treasures, such as socks paper towels, ink pens, remote controls, etc.. Some cases of posessive aggression can be resolved by teaching the dog basic obedience commands such as leave-it and drop.

Some aggression behaviors can be fueled  by miscommunications and the balance between dogs and people, better described as the relationship. In some cases, the dog’s physical, social, or emotional needs are not being met, and / or, the chosen training methods are flawed.  A 21st Century Canine Relationship Specialist can help you with these areas. Visit the APDT to find a trainer near you.

Regardless of the type of aggression, the first step is to manage the environment so the dog does not practice (and people or other animals are not injured). Prevention can include simple steps like removing high value food items, feeding in a crate or secure area, crating the dog during social events, removing toys, housing the dog inside the home, and dog proofing the home.

Next, you’ll need to establish a clear system for communication and motivation. Condition a reward marker and follow the rewards awareness program, no free F.A.T.!

There are specific exercises for treating different types of resource guarding. Each dog and case is different. The treatment plan must be fluid and should be adapted for the dog’s success. You’ll probably need help from a dog behavior counselor.

Visit this Solve-It section on this site for specific examples and detailed solutions for aggression.

Happy Training!

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

How’s Bentley – Memphis, Collierville, Germantown TN

21st Century Canine Relationship Solutions

Group Dog Obedience Classes

Private Dog Training in Memphis TN

Reactive Dog Specialist


DANGER! Choking Hazard! Size Matters! Orbee Tuff Balls for Less!

Ellie_SizeMost of us who pitch an occasional ball or play sports think little about matching the diameter of the ball to fit our dogs.

SIZE MATTERS! A medium or large dog should not play with any ball that could become lodged in their throats or stuck in their mouth.

It’s rare, but I’ve known dogs who have choked to death while their owners watched. Balls that are just a bit too large for small dogs can be compressed to fit into the mouth, where they flex back to original size and become stuck. Think about your dog’s safety during play!

My Australian terrier dog, Bentley destroys tennis balls in minutes! There are only a few types of balls that hold up to his destructive chewing. I’ve found a goldmine of incredibly durable balls made by Orbee. Bentley can compress, chew and squeeze the Orbee balls, but they do not easily rip and tear.

Orbee makes tough balls, in all sizes. Here is a sampling of the selection. Click the images below to purchase the perfect size Orbee Tough Ball from Sit Stay, a trusted on line dog supply store. You will not find it at a better price! Plus, I’ll get 8% of your purchase to help fund this FREE informational web site!


Visit SitStay.com Today

Orbee Tough Ball – Small 2.25″, Medium 3.25″, Large 4.25″ .

Orbee-Tuff Ball, Small
Click the image to visit Sit Stay and order Orbee Tough Ball – 2 1/4″ Small, 3 1/4″ Medium or 4 1/4″ Large.

2 1/2″ Orbee Tuff Fetch Ball – Same size as normal tennis balls.

Orbee-Tuff Fetch Ball
Click the image to visit Sit Stay and order Orbee 2 1/2″ Fetch Ball.

3″ Baseball

Orbee Baseball
CLICK the image to visit Sit Stay and order Orbee 3″ Baseball.


3.25″ Orbee Tuff Glow for Good Ball

Orbee-Tuff Glow for Good Ball
CLICK the image to visit Sit Stay and order Orbee 3 1/4″ Glow Ball.


Orbee 5″ Soccer Ball

Orbee Soccer Ball
CLICK the image to visit Sit Stay and order 5″ tuff soccer ball today!

Happy Training!

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

How’s Bentley – Memphis, Collierville, Germantown TN

21st Century Canine Relationship Solutions

Group Dog Obedience Classes

Private Dog Training in Memphis TN

Reactive Dog Specialist

iPhone 3Gs Video ** Ouch, My Westie Terrier Keeps Biting My Feet!

Peyton Terrier 1Puppies are cute, but not so cute when they attack your sock as you try to fit one on your foot! Ouch! That puppy just bit my toe!!

You really cannot teach your puppy when life is happening. Sometimes, you just need to prevent that rascal puppy from perfecting nuisance behaviors.

A tether is one of my favorite tools. A tether is a rope with a leash snap attached to one end. To make a tether, attach a leash snap to a 7-10 foot piece of nylon rope. I use 1/4″ nylon rope for small dogs, and 3/8″ or 1/2″ braided nylon rope to make a tether for medium and large dogs.  You can purchase the braided nylon rope at Lowe’s or Home Depot.

Tethers provide a sort of half way house between being crated (or otherwise sequestered), and having full freedom to roam inside your house and get into trouble.  I advise clients to tether puppies when eating, changing clothes, or when entertaining friends.  Toss a dog bed on the floor, give your puppy a free range bullie stick, and tether your puppy to a piece of furniture near you.

You can use this free range bullie stick to condition your dog to “love” his dog bed. The free range bullies do not stink like the Merrick bullies stocked at local pet supply stores. CAUTION, This chew has the potential to turn Fluffy into Cujo! Read about Food related aggression by clicking anywhere in this sentence.
Click here for free instructions for teaching your dog to want to GO-TO-PLACE. .

Or, you can tie the rope around your waist and let your puppy shadow you throughout the house. The idea is to limit the puppy’s choices, and to give your puppy helpful feedback about correct behaviors!

Or, you can tie the tether to a plush dog toy and drag the toy as you walk. That will give your puppy an alternative to chasing and play biting your feet and ankles.

Peyton Terrier

If your puppy has not learned to come bump your target, let him drag a tether when playing outside.

Today I visited a client who had participated in a group class during the summer. As soon as I saw Peyton, a West Highland terrier mix, I remembered why my client enrolled. That guy is a yahoo turbo!!! We attached a tether and played a bit in the yard. Select the You Tube Video of Peyton linked below to watch this guy scramble!

Happy Training!

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

How’s Bentley – Memphis, Collierville, Germantown TN

21st Century Canine Relationship Solutions

Group Dog Obedience Classes

Private Dog Training in Memphis TN

Reactive Dog Specialist

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

Changing Bad Crate Habits – Puppy Barking, Urinating in Crate

Mini DauschundBarking in the Crate

When accompanied by eliminating in the crate, drooling, or self-injury, barking in the crate can be a sign of separation anxiety.

Dogs with separation anxiety have been compared to people that have anxiety attacks.

Separation anxiety is an emotional condition fraught with panic and fear.

Crating a dog with true separation anxiety is never a good idea.

Even if your dog exhibits only two of these symptoms, he could be truly distressed. If this describes your dog or you are not sure if your dog has true separation anxiety, ask your vet for the name of a canine behavior counselor.

Barking and whining can be normal signs of protest or a true alarm. I’ve met pups who bark to tell their people there’s been (or about to be) an accident.

In some respects, a crated puppy can be compared to a baby, alone in a crib. If your pup is not wet, hungry, thirsty, or ill, let him cry.

Slowly introducing your pup by pairing the crate with meals and special treats usually removes most objections to being crated.

Even after you have properly introduced your dog to the concept of the crate, your pup may bark for short periods.

This is normal. Ignore the barking; don’t make eye contact; say nothing.

For if you do, your dog will think he is on the path to freedom and will continue barking.

It’s important to stick to your plan when teaching pups about crying in the crate.

If, after 30 minutes, you give in and release your crying puppy, he or she will learn that crying for 30 minutes is a good strategy for freedom.

Wait until your pup is quiet and relaxed before you praise and/or release him. This will teach him that being quiet and relaxed has good dividends!

If your pup barks for long periods of time, it is always possible that you are not meeting your pup’s exercise requirements, crate-time is too long, or he is genuinely anxious. Review your exercise regime and review your introduction sequences.

Most normal, well-exercised dogs and pups that are gradually introduced will discontinue their barking strategy after a few episodes of being crated.

If this does not describe your pup or dog, start the introduction routine from the beginning or consult with a professional.

Eliminating in the Crate

When accompanied by drooling, self-injury, and barking, eliminating in the crate can be a sign of separation anxiety.

Other common causes are urinary tract infections, medical conditions, and medications.

If your pup or dog eliminates in the crate, first rule out medical and behavioral issues that might contribute to inside elimination.  Visit your vet first!

Most people limit crate time to include only the periods when they are gone, asleep, or unable to supervise their dog. If these periods are too long for the individual dog, then it’s best to arrange for someone to exercise the pup.

An alternate plan is to set up the crate or confinement area with a bathroom as discussed previously.

Sometimes a puppy or dog has already formed poor elimination habits. These guys eliminate inside their crates and are not offended by the presence of their own waste. Here’s how I address these situations.

Purchase a different style of crate.

Here are two different styles of crates you can buy at Amazon with free shipping.

Get an exercise pen. Move the crate to another location and place it inside the exercise pen. Cover the floor of the entire area with newspaper or house training pads.

Here’s a great, black epoxi exercise pen,
for sale at at Amazon. Select the Super Saver Free Shipping!

Here’s a suggestion I read in one of Ian Dunbar’s books.

Place plastic on the entire floor of the confinement area and cover the plastic with grass sod.

Buy extra sod so that you can rotate the soiled sod outside for cleaning and replace it with clean piece of sod from the outside.

Place a crate inside the confinement area with the door removed. Follow the same instructions as newspaper training and slowly remove the grass sod from the area.

For even tougher cases, set up the confinement area with sod and discard the crate.

Happy Training!

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

How’s Bentley – Memphis, Collierville, Germantown TN

21st Century Canine Relationship Solutions

Group Dog Obedience Classes

Private Dog Training in Memphis TN

Reactive Dog Specialist

How to Introduce Your Puppy Dog to a Crate or Kennel

Yorkie TerrierCrate Introduction

I’ve met many people who did not take any special steps to introduce their pups to a crate and their pups learned to relax while crated.

Most people just place their puppy in the crate, give the pup a treat, and ignore any signs of protest. After a few days, the pup begin to relax while crated.  Assuming the puppy’s physical and emotional needs are being met, this method is okay by me.

Other pups require a more thoughtful approach.

The concepts for teaching a dog to remain calm in a crate can be adapted to teach a dog to relax when alone in other areas, such as the back porch, another room in the house or briefly tethered to a piece of furniture or door knob.

Before you lock your pup inside a crate and leave the house, introduce your pup to the crate in small doses.

This is best achieved over a long weekend. I like to remove the door at first, so the pup doesn’t get spooked by the swinging door. In some instances, I might even remove the top portion (airline type crates) and present the crate without the top or door attached. It depends on the dog.

Toss some treats inside the crate and let your dog find them without any input from you.

The idea is to form an association between the crate and good things, such as surprise treats.

Feed your dog in the crate. Place water bowl in the front of the crate.

If your dog is hesitant to enter the crate, start by placing the food bowl or treats inside the front edge of the crate so that your dog can eat without entering the crate.

Once he is comfortable eating with his head inside the crate, move the bowl just a bit farther inside the crate. Gradually move the food farther back inside the crate over the next few days. Always remove the bowl with any leftover food after 10-15 minutes.

Once the dog will readily enter the crate to eat, introduce him to the concept of the crate door. Here’s how to do it. With your dog outside of the crate, attach the door and let your dog investigate it. Swing it open and latch it shut several times. Tell him “this is door”.

Naming things that interest your dog is a great method to teach your dog about the environment.

Feed him inside the crate with the door attached. After a few meals, he’ll be accustomed to the door.

Now it’s time to introduce him to the closed door when he is inside. As soon as he is happily eating, tell him, “I’m closing the door” and swing the door shut and latch it. Wait a moment and immediately open the door.

Say nothing, just watch him eat and let him come out when he’s finished.

Repeat this sequence during the next few meals, but increase the amount of time the door remains closed.

As you progress through these steps, begin to walk a few steps away. Gradually increase your distance from the crate over several sessions.

In addition to introducing your pup to the crate during meals, start crating your pup late in the evening or mid-mornings. Assumedly he will be tired and ready to rest.

For this exercise I like to place the crate near my favorite chair, in the family room or in the kitchen.  This will teach your dog to relax in the crate when people are nearby. You can move the crate farther away in small increments during this introductory period.

Get a Kong®. Amazon stocks all the Kongs at great prices. If you have a puppy, get a puppy kong. They are softer and easier to compress.

Place a bit of wide, silver duct tape over the small opening to seal it off.

Place a few treats or pieces of dog food inside.

Pour some water and a bit of chicken broth inside the Kong®. Stand it upright in the freezer and let it freeze.

Remove the frozen Kong® from the freezer, remove the duct tape and give the Kong® to your crated pup. Once he is engrossed in the Kong®, tell him, “I’m closing the door” and then close the door. He’ll spend 15-25 minutes stimulating his mind and his body while he is foraging inside his crate.

If he has been well-exercised before this “Crate-Kong” sequence, he’ll probably fall asleep soon after he’s finished.

If, after several crate-Kong sessions, your pup is still anxious in the crate, ask your vet for the name of a qualified behavior counselor.

If your puppy just barks and doesn’t want the Kong®, try again later when he is hungry.

Happy Training!

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

How’s Bentley – Memphis, Collierville, Germantown TN

21st Century Canine Relationship Solutions

Group Dog Obedience Classes

Private Dog Training in Memphis TN

Reactive Dog Specialist


What Size and Type of Crate Should I Choose for My Puppy?

White lab puppy

Crate Selection

There are several styles of crates on the market. Some are large metal cages and others are tents or plastic carriers.

Tents and crates made of fabric can easily be destroyed by an active puppy.

Some dogs have a difficult time relaxing in the metal cages because they are constantly monitoring the environment outside the cage.

Since they can see in all directions, every movement or noise places them on alert. I’ve met several dogs that learn to constantly spin in these large wire crates.

I prefer the plastic, airline type carriers. These are more like a cave than a cage. They are portable, can be easily moved, and can be used in vehicles and on trips. In addition, the protection of closed sides offers a more secure environment for a resting dog. The dog only has one direction to monitor.

Amazon sells crates of all sizes at great prices. Here’s my favorite. Select the size that fits your puppy!

If you already have a cage, place a blanket over the top and sides or place it in a corner so your dog isn’t shouldered with the task of monitoring all directions.

People often buy the largest crate that will fit into their space. This is not necessarily the best choice, unless you will be leaving your dog for extended periods or you install a divider.

Pups with large crates may use the crate for a bathroom, when in fact they would not eliminate if restricted to a smaller area.


Crate Size and Setup

People often buy the largest crate that will fit into their space. This is not necessarily the best choice, unless you will be leaving your dog for extended periods or you install a divider.

Pups with large crates may use the crate for a bathroom, when in fact they would not eliminate if restricted to a smaller area.

Large crates with a divider are an economical choice for large breed pups.

The adjustable divider allows you to modify the size of the crate as your pup grows!

Home with Pup

If you are home during the day and can provide your pup with regular access to the outside, choose a crate that is just large enough for the dog to stand up without restriction, to turn around, and to lay with legs extended.

If you never leave your pup in the crate too long and you have already chosen a larger crate, place a barrier inside to reduce the area.

Natural tendencies for cleanliness developed as a very young pup should prevent your puppy from soiling the small area unless you wait too long between trips outside.

For extra protection, line the entire crate with newspaper.

Pup Home Alone

It would be nice if we could stay home and play with our puppies every day, but that’s not realistic, is it?

If you are like me, you may not be able to arrange for a neighbor or pet sitter to come over and exercise your puppy.

Install a Bathroom and Newspaper Training

If your pup will be left in the crate for longer periods, select a larger crate. Set up a bathroom in the crate.

Place your dog’s water and bedding in the front of the crate and cover the floor of the entire crate with newspaper or training pads.

An alternate setup for people that will be gone for extended periods is to use an exercise pen and a ‘just large enough’ crate with the door removed.

Place the crate with bedding inside the exercise pen. Place pads or newspapers inside the crate. Place pads or newspapers on the floor around the crate, making sure to cover the entire room or area.

Something should be covering the surface or your dog will associate the floor with an appropriate area to eliminate.

Expect your pup to shred the newspaper. It is not necessarily a problem unless he ingests it. If your puppy shreds the newspaper as soon as he is confined, examine his exercise schedule. See if you can squeeze in a bit more exercise. Tired pups don’t usually spend hours shredding newspaper.

After three weeks have passed and your pup has not eliminated inside his crate, remove the newspaper/pads from the inside of the crate.

Wait another week and then move the newspaper/pads one or two inches away from the crate each day.

Position the paper towards the door or closer to the permanent destination. If your pup eliminates off the paper, you moved it too far, too soon. If this happens more than once, start over and cover the entire floor.

Place some of the used newspaper outside where you take your dog to eliminate. The odors will prompt your dog to use it again.

Anytime you notice pre-elimination behaviors such as sniffing, circling or squatting, say “let’s go potty” and take the pup outside to the desired location.

Happy Training!

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

How’s Bentley – Memphis, Collierville, Germantown TN

21st Century Canine Relationship Solutions

Group Dog Obedience Classes

Private Dog Training in Memphis TN

Reactive Dog Specialist

iPhone 3Gs Video ** Ace Doberman Shadow Dance

Doberman AceI visited Ace the AKC registered, Doberman puppy today in Collierville TN.  Ace already knows: “Look”, “Two Finger Target Here”, and “Sit for Folded Arms”. Today we practiced “Leave-It (it’s impossible), and “Stay”. This young rascal is quite the turbo!

Click the  link below to see Ace the AKC registered Doberman puppy doing his shadow dance.

Doberman puppy 2

Doberman pupy 3

Doberman 1

Happy Training!

How’s Bentley

21st Century Canine Relationship Solutions

Memphis TN

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