Tough Boy Trick- Capture your Dog’s Cute Behaviors – Place on Cue

21dogandImagine a photographer with a camera focused on a bird’s nest – just waiting for the baby birds to pop their heads up. The instant the birds show their heads, the photographer captures the image by releasing the shutter.

Imagine a dog owner (me) walking his turbo Australian terrier (Bentley).

Imagine Bentley scratching the ground with his feet (like a bull), immediately after he urinates.

Imagine me marking that behavior and then giving Bentley some version of  F.A.T. (Marking is when you click a clicker, say a crisp X, or use whatever signal you use as a marker. F.A.T. is a reward system, consisting of food, attention, and touch.)

I thought Bentley’s natural behavior of  “scratching out” was cute, so I decided to teach him to do it on command. All I did was mark the instant he did it and then give him a reward. At this point I am not saying anything to Bentley. I am patiently waiting, then marking.

I am like the photographer in that I patiently wait for something in particular to occur, then I act.

During one walk with 3 or 4 instances of Bentley scratching out and me marking the behavior, Bentley caught on. To test his understanding, I waited for him to scratch out, and I did NOT mark the behavior. He looked up at me as if to say, “hey stoooopid, I  scratched out – where’s the mark?”  Now I was ready to add the command or cue. On our next pee stop I slipped the words. “Tough boy” immediately before he scratched out. I marked the behavior and a new trick was born.

Now I can ask Bentley, Are you a tough boy?” and he will scratch out like a bull!

You can capture any behavior your dog naturally performs. This means you can teach sit and down via the capture method. It’s too easy but it works very well!!

Happy Training!

Alan J Turner – Canine Relationship Solutions – Memphis – Collierville – Germantown – Dog Training – Cat Training – Bird Training – Horse Training

21Dog

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iPhone 3Gs Video ** Do it or Suffer: Your Weimaraner Needs Exercise!

WeimaranerToday I went with my clients, Derrick and Megan, to Shelby Farms to exercise Bimmer, their 1 year old Weimaraner dog. Scroll to the bottom of this post to watch 2 iPhone 3Gs videos of Bimmer playing fetch.

I first met the clients January 2009, when Bimmer was a puppy. Derrick and Megan were model students, and it shows. Bimmer was an excellent guest at the dog park. Derrick and Meagan have a wonderful Weimaraner dog who is well mannered and loads of fun! That’s not the case with owners who do not obedience train or exercise their dogs.

If you do NOT teach your puppy basic obedience and provide enough stimulation for your dog, problems will emerge. Excessive digging, escaping, jumping, barking, chewing, and destruction are common signs that an untrained dog’s needs are not being met.

At 4.500 acres and 20 bodies of water, Shelby Farms is one of the largest municipal park in the USA.

In the lower picture, Bimmer has a fire hose fetch toy. I could throw this toy much farther than the plastic retrieving dummy. Dogs seem to really like fire hose material. Although it’s not a chew toy, the texture is a bit different and the fire hose is very durable. Amazon has a great selection. Here’s the best one I’ve found at the best price.

Weimaraner Fetch

Click below to see 2 videos taken with iPhone 3Gs. The Splash is my favorite!

Fetch

Splash

Happy Training!
Alan J Turner – How’s Bentley – 21st Century Canine Relationship Solutions
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Group and Private Dog Training in Memphis, Collierville, Germantown, Bartlett TN

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Fire Hose Game: Simple Solution for Excited Dogs Jumping Up on Visitors


Weim FIre HoseSometimes we get so engrossed in stopping our dogs’ behaviors, we overlook the simple solutions. Friendly, jumping up on guests is the most common problem reported by my clients.

Many dogs calm down after a few minutes, so this solution is for those guys, the dogs that are too excited to obey during the first few minutes, but do relax after their initial exuberance has passed!

We’ve all read the same books and advice. Attach a leash, prevent the dog from mugging your guests. Teach the dog to sit politely for greetings. Yuk! How boring!

In theory that sounds like great advice. But in reality, many people do not have the skills, the time, or regular guests to use for practice. And some dogs are too darned excited to sit! I prefer to give these turbo dogs another active and exciting task (besides jumping up on guests).

Here’s my easy solution that will cost you under $15 and about 10 minutes to put into place. This works especially well for labrador and golden retrievers!

Try this jumping up solution with dogs that like toys, and are proud to prance with toys in their mouths.

Purchase a new toy. Dogs seem to really like fire hose material. The texture is a bit different and the fire hose is very durable. Amazon has a great selection. Here’s the best one I’ve found at the best price.

You’ll need to build a history of excitement and glee, and associate the toy with proud prancing, before you can use it in real life. You’ll do this when no visitors are nearby.
Give your dog the new toy. Chase, praise, cheer, clap your hands, make high pitched repetitive noises. Do whatever it takes to get your dog prancing or racing around the house with the new toy!

After 3 minutes of excitement, ask your dog to drop the toy and place the toy near your door. Wait an hour and then repeat the fire hose toy playtime. This time, you’ll label the game. Say something like, “Fire Hose” and then race to get the toy near the door. Give your dog the toy and cheer him on!

From now on, your dog only gets that particular toy when people visit your house. Say, “Fire Hose” and give your dog the toy the instant you open the door and invite the visitors inside your home. It’s very likely that your problem of “excited dog jumping on visitors” will be replaced with a display of prancing and running with the fire hose toy.

Happy Training!

Alan J Turner – How’s Bentley – Memphis TN
21st Century Canine Relationship Specialist
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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

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iPhone Dog Whistle App

iPhone Dog Whistle application

photo-3This application can be a useful tool for training your dog. The program emits a tone. You may adjust the frequency and pattern of the sound, which will cause the noise to be more, or less, noticeable to your dog. Some of the frequencies are outside of human hearing range, but within the hearing range of canus lupus familiaris, our domestic canine companions, which are better known as dogs!

According to wikipedia, some dogs can hear frequencies as high as 60,000 Hz. To learn more about the hearing ranges of people and dogs, visithttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hearing_range.

The dog whistle can be used  as a signal for your dog to perform a particular behavior, or as a punisher to reduce behaviors.

How you use the dog whistle iPhone application is up to you!

First, let’s clear the air. The iPhone dog whistle app does not magically attract dogs to want to come when called. It’s more often an interrupter, which means most dogs will stop and listen when they hear the tone. Some dogs become frightened by the noise and will cower or run away. With these guys, it’s not a good come when called signal!

If you want to use the whistle as a come when called command for your dog, it’s up to you to teach your dog what to do when he hears the sound.

Conditioning your dog to come when you blow a dog whistle is no different than teaching your dog to come when you blow a coach’s whistle.  To learn how to condition your dog to come when you blow any type of whistle, visit How’s Bentley web site and sign up for the mailing list. Follow the instructions for Whistle Come, but instead of blowing a coach’s whistle, you will sound the iPhone dog whistle.

Now I’ll explain how I used the iPhone dog whistle application to interrupt and reduce excessive licking of fabric behavior by my AKC registered Australian Terrier dog, Bentley. The sound of the whistle performs the role of a positive punisher, which is a stimulus that is added, which reduces the immediate behavior of licking. Bentley’s licking is caused by chronic pancreatitis, and at times, the behavior is classified as compulsive by dog behavior experts.

It’s important to note that routine amounts of brief licking is a normal form of self grooming by dogs and should be allowed. Many dogs perform this grooming before they go to sleep. The licking that I want to reduce is the compulsive licking of fabric, which has developed because of the many times Bentley has practiced the behavior. If I allow him to lick fabric excessively, he will absorb enough small particles of the material and vomit.  Any time you want to use a positive punisher to reduce behaviors, it’s best to consult with an animal behavior counselor. Poor timing, and unwanted side effects, of using positive punishers during dog training can sabotage your good intentions!

I set the frequency to 20,000 Hz, which is well above my hearing range, but within the hearing range of my terrier dog, Bentley. I sound the whistle when Bentley starts licking fabric. I say nothing, and from Bentley’s point of view, I am not responsible for the ultrasonic sound, thus no attention is coming from me. Bentley will stop licking, perk his ears up and I stop the whistle. The instant he stops licking, I stop the tone and praise him!

By using the iPhone dog whistle application in this fashion, I have successfully reduced licking fabric behavior!

Happy Animal Training!

Alan J Turner – companion animal behavior counselor and trainer, Memphis TN

Owner: How’s Bentley

Private and Group Dog Training in Memphis, Collierville, Germantown, Cordova TN