Big Breed Training

Discussion in 'General Dog Training' started by splitz831, Dec 28, 2007.

  1. splitz831 New Member

    I was just wondering if anyone with a large breed had any suggestions for tricks I should train my bernese mountian dog (will get to be about 100 lbs) now while still a pup that will make things easier as he gets older. For example we are training him show your tummy so he lays on his back while we brush his tummy and paws. Obviously he's also learning the general commands (sit, come stay) and fun tricks (high five, shy) but with our boston terriers most of our tricks are fun not necessary but I feel that with such a heavy dog I might need him to do some stuff that I could just lift up or make my smaller dogs do (such as holding them while the vet checks their paws)

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated

  2. l_l_a New Member

    hi Splitz my german shepherd is about 90-92 pounds (depending on how much fur he sheds in a given week, ha!) so I hear you about the big-breed training thing! :)

    We work extra on loose-leash walking, recall, stays, leave-its and holding eye contact, and doing these around distractions. In other words, the self-control exercises. with big strong dogs, especially if they are also high energy or if they are reactive, controlling them physically can get very difficult so developing their self-control is more important than for the littler dogs. If a dog doesn't have any self-control, then any small distraction or environmental stimuli will cause him to lunge or strain on the leash of if off leash they can injure or scare someone (since a big dog running towards you is scarier than a small dog doing the same). My dog is very far from perfect and I do sometimes have to struggle to get control through physical means temporarily (i.e. restraining with the leash), but the more self-control the dog has developed the less often you will be in this situation, and the more quickly you will be able to regain voice control when those situations arise..

    Also socialization and being comfortable around a lot of everyday things is more important for big dogs than for small dogs. As you said, it is easier to simply hold a small dog still for the vet. Not a good option with big strong dogs, as I have found out! So I think it is important for big dogs to learn to be comfortable and relaxed around things like vets, groomers, traffic, loud noises, other dogs, basically anything in their everyday world. It's best if they don't freak out over these things (a big dog freaking out can be very difficult to control and dangerous!!) but also good if they don't get too happy-exuberant around them too!

    basically, big dogs are held to a higher standard of good manners simply because like you said, you can't physically place them where you need them and also their size makes the general public much less tolerant of anything that looks like bad behavior.

    the good news is that you can train all these things as tricks so it is still fun for you and the dog!
  3. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    I would suggest teaching him to enter the vehicle on command, as many dogs of all sizes would prefer to be lifted into the vehicle. If you need some suggestions on how to do this, feel free to ask. I taught my dogs how to do this already. =) Also, I would teach the command "Stand" to use when you take your dog to the vet and he doesn't want to stay put on the scale, or tolerate the vet's exams. As |_|_a suggested, leash training is extremely important, and many self-control exercises. If you do any off-leash exercising, I would work heavily on the off-leash heel while he is young and relatively small. Of course, jumping should not be allowed. Such a large dog gives such large hugs. ^^
  4. splitz831 New Member

    Thanks guys,

    I will focus on those things. Most of which we are working on with all the dogs though I am most worried about Jasper because he'll be so big and, yes, will scare people if he starts to get excited. So far we are pretty lucky he's really calm and is already lose leash trained we have no pulling problems.

    As for the car, my girls (bostons) are trained to jump in the car on command *into the car girls* but he's afraid of it, even when he sees his sisters jump right in. Normally if they are doing it he's chomping at the bit to get his turn but not with the car. When I do get him in it (currently by lifting him) he tries to hid under the front seat (from the back) and always gets stuck and starts whimpering while I'm driving. He's better if one or both his sisters are in the car with him but alone he's insane!

    How did you train your dog to get in the car? I've tried luring with treats from the other side but he's just not budging, and to my knowledge other then getting stuck, nothing tramatic has happened in the car so I'm at a lose.
  5. missouri gal New Member

    Hello...I'm new to the scene, but since I've worked as a vet assistant for about 7+ years, I thought I would make a bit of a recommendation from the things we've notiticed at the clininc when working with big dogs---and also, that I do with my own dogs..... The best thing you can do with ANY dog about going to the vet, is working on basic obedience...as you seem to be doing...GOOD FOR YOU!! Another, of course is the self control and "watch me" excercises because they are great when the vet has to do something not so very pleasant or that will hurt, so the dog will focus on YOU and be calm, and not try to bite the vet!
    Now, another thing that alot of people do not think about is.... the dreaded nail trim!! If YOU do your work at home by playing with the toes, nails, and putting a little pressure at the top of the toe and pushing down to make the nail come out of the nail bed just a bit with EACH TOE on each foot (Maybe not necessarily all at the same training session, either! and Repetition, repetition, repetition and LOTS of tummy rubs!) and not letting the dog chew on your fingers, move around, trying to get up, that sort of thing....by giving treats and with ALOT of praise and did I say tummy rubs??? --you CAN get your dogs to lie down on their backs and not give a hoot who is doing "what" with them or their nails when they weigh 100#!!!!
    Seriously, I can be on the floor with all of my dogs and each will have a turn (all 6 of them!) and I can tell them to "roll onto your back" and they will put all 4 legs into the air and I can use my dremel to dremel their nails in no time!!! Less stress on them emotionally AND physically and less strain on my back to hold them down!! No wrestling matches!! LOL!!
    I like to use the dremel since it does not "pinch or squeeze" the nail as it trims and you can trim shorter than with regular nail clippers--it does not hardly ever get short enough to bleed--so it doesn't hurt much! They DO have to get used to the sound--by holding it farther away and turning it on at first--(using treats and getting closer with each training session!)! Some dogs do not care about the sound at all...some do...It is harder to do with dogs with a bunch of hair on the feet, you have to be careful not to get it tangled in the dremel!!!
    On the getting the dog into the car thing......can anyone help you?? Start with little steps---get one foot up ..treat/praise...back off....go back a few feet...treat/good dog..try again..2 feet up ..treat..lots of praise..back off. praise/treat....3 feet up and so on until dog is in car --if only for one second!! TREAT..PRAISE!!!! DO NOT HAVE THE CAR TURNED ON AT ANY POINT OF THIS!!!

    You may have to do this in many stages, over many days/weeks ...when dog does finally get into car.....can someone else sit with him to calm him and you "JUST SIT" behind the wheel and treat/praise?? For a few times until dog accepts it with out being too nervous?? And then, just back out of the drive and go back in...out of car..treat/praise...next time up to stop sign and back..out of car..praise...then around block...to school/park and out to play??
    See where I'm going with this??? Give Lots of chances to do the right thing and get comfortable in stages....Just like with horse training....it will get better with perseverence and being consistent!! Keep up the Good Work and good for you wanting to have your dogs have good experiences when going "Bye-Bye"!!
    By the way...I use "Load Up"--that way when we are telling someone else (usually grandma who is sitting with the kids!!!) "BYE-BYE" all the dogs don't jump into the car for mommy/daddy's nite out!!! LOL!!
    Hope I have not over ran my welcome on my first message and hope I've not gotten too lengthy or stepped on any toes (not sure how far I can go on training tips??).....If I have, please accept my apologies......

    So, have fun with your dogs and thank you so much for making your vet's like treating your well behaved pets --doesn't it make you just so proud to see how well they do and feel proud of yourself for your time and training???
    GOOD WORK!!
  6. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Great suggestions, Missouri Gal!
    I don't lure them from inside the vehicle, I lure them form outside the vehicle. What I do is lure them close to the vehicle(whatever distance they're comfortable) and treat or praise or both, whichever your dog thrives on. Slowly I get them to come closer and closer, then I eventually get right next to the vehicle. I hold a treat at the floorboard, so they stretch their neck a little to reach it. I do this a few times, then hold it a tiny bit further into the vehicle so they have to put one or both front paws in. Repeat, repeat, repeat, etc, and slowly move further in. Once they understand what is expected of them when you hold a treat in the vehicle, then start adding the command. I use "Get in the truck" or just "Truck." Mud loved car rides when I got her, so what I had to do with her was use the "Wait" command, then give the truck command and encourage her in. Your puppy wants to be near you, so if he's still reluctant, climb on in yourself and encourage him in from there.
    Make the vehicle a happy place to be. Treats, praise, happy voices! But NOT a rambunctious place to be. You certainly don't want your 100+ pound Bernese romping in your car going down the highway. ^^; Once he's comfortable in the car, get in the driver's seat, pet him some, and get out. Do this a few times, and end the training session on a good note. Your next session, maybe start the car. If he likes to go somewhere(say, a park or a pet supply store), then make your first real trip to that place, so that he looks forward to riding in the car. The first time you actually drive, only go down the street or around the block or something. Not far. Slowly increase the distance of your trips, but make the first few always to close, fun places. If he's scared of a certain park by a busy highway, don't choose this place to go to at first. If you have the pet seatbelt attachments, you will most likely have to get him used to these too.
    Good point about the claws, Missouri Gal. Is the dremel really more comfortable for the dog than the clippers? I've heard this, but never really been told so by...well, someone who would know, lol. ^^
  7. splitz831 New Member

    Thanks again. I'll probably try both methods a little, pick and choose what seems to be working for Jasper the best.

    We are currently working on show your tummy to help with brushing (trying to get his chest and stomach brushed are hard when he's sitting and trying to eat the brush, lol. But I will make sure I include paw inspections when doing this. I play with all three of our dogs paws on a regular basis though I have more trouble with checking teeth even though I try to do this on a regular basis as well they just don't like it, I think they think I'm going to give them medicine (everyone was sick at least once as a small puppy).

    I'm also curious about the dremel...it really works...I'm going to have to try it.
  8. profiam New Member

    For loading Jasper, one thing I read (in several places), was building a ramp! Not sure why (other than the joint problems over the long run)...maybe the leap is too high.

    I have a full-sized dodge pickup. My lab can jump in the bed (I use "load up" too) or the front end. My border seems to be afraid, but I just keep working with her and let her take some time, then help her in. Arwen doesn't have the leapability yet, but is game for a ride.
  9. l_l_a New Member

    I agree with Missouri Girl about the nail trimming!!

    Boy, do I know! we had accustomed our german shepherd to grooming and handling procedures when he was a small puppy so he was always easy-going at the vets and groomers. Until one day about a year ago, we were assigned to a very mean and nasty vet. I swear this man should not be working with animals! he handled my dog very violently (it was bad - my dog was so freaked out he lost control of his bowels, and then the vet muzzled him and even then with the help of two nurses couldn't hold my 90-pound german shepherd down because he was thrashing around so much and actually worked the muzzle loose). After that single traumatic experience my dog had a phobia of having his feet handled. After that bad incident he then tried to bite anyone including me and my husband if we tried to clip his nails (a very highly inhibited bite that left no marks on the skin, but still a bite nonetheless). it was so bad we had to drug him to trim his nails the first few times while we were undergoing an intensive behavior modification program to re-train him to be calm and accepting of paw-handling.

    I used clicker training to re-train him to be calm. Now he is back to being calm and accepting nail clipping and without needing drugs! But, it took many weeks of intensive step-by-step conditioning to re-train him to not freak out when having his paws touched. even now I only trust my husband and myself to clip the dog's nails, I just don't want to risk him freaking out again in the hands of a stranger since this incident is still relatively recent (in my mind at least), so when we take him to the groomers I tell them no nail trimming.

    Therefore I totally agree that big strong dogs absolutely need to be made comfortable and accepting of bring handled because holding them down if they are uncomfortable, can quickly escalate to them freaking out and if they are freaking out, it can get very ugly and dangerous.
  10. missouri gal New Member

    Thanks Tx_Cowgirl!!! I appreciate the applause!! You have a much nicer way of putting the things into words the way I meant them!!! Us cowgirls gotta stick together!! ** Nice Job!! ** Of course, Splitz, you are right, too---you need to pick and choose what works best for Jasper--because we all know--no 2 dogs are the same!!!! LOL!!

    My newest addition for instance....Rocky...only have had him for 10 days, yet he can already sit, down, wait (going outside, for food, to "Load Up" and yes, even outside the bathroom door!!! *Not Kidding!!* LOL!), stay (for about 15 seconds), go "round" in a circle--that was sooo easy for him!! Since he came to me as a stray and has a bad habit of jumping up---I ALWAYS**** teach my pups not to jump up when they are very little....so, this has been so new for me to learn how to correct.....I put my little pea brain into overdrive and surfed the subject a bit and decided to teach him that when he DOES jump up, I do not correct him when he is excited during play----instead, I have started to clap 2 times and say "up"--good boy!!! and be very excited, then as soon as his feet hit the ground "Off"...."Good off" & praise, petting, good boy!!
    ---so that I can show him how to "jump up" on command, and eventually show him how to "off"! Does anyone know if I'm on the right track?? He is an aussie mix , I'm guessing 9 months to a year--(possibly mixed with border collie since his ears stand up!) and I do not want to make him so he doesn't get excited, since he is so smart, funny and possibly we will be doing agility to channel his energy--and he is so well behaved otherwise---I just think he needs to learn that he won't get any attention when he jumps up in the house--only when we are "playing/learning/teaching" outside!
    He goes to work with me every day--since I work at a vet clininc, when I take my lunch break, we go for walks and have training time...otherwise, he is in our front office where us techs have our dogs, desks, copier, file cabinets, etc....no other animals are allowed and the dogs do not get to access the rest of the clinic (for their safety as well as germs!)!! Yes, they are all VERY housebroke!! It has worked out great and this way, our dogs are not at home bored all day getting into mischief!! So, any ideas on the jumping thing?? Also, any other certain things/ways to train if I want to do agility?? We will be working on numerous things, and oh....the "Here" command is coming on well, too--and "table"....what else??

    About the dremel---My wonderful friend and groomer of over 30+ years showed me many years ago how to use the dremel to get the nails shorter and smoother--esp for those older people/clients with thinner skin that seem to bleed so easily if scratched by an overexuberant dog friend!! She uses it on all of her dogs that she grooms--she started using it on those petite little poodles so their little pretty feet would still look so dainty and cute with their hair so short on the feet!! It just works wonderful---You may need help in the beginning getting someone to treat while you dremel, but it is so worth the effort and training time it takes! And if they move, and you have already taught them the"Aaaght" sound when they are doing something you don't want them to, they will be still for the dremel! On little dogs, like your bostons, you could hold them in your lap, wrap an arm around in front, to hold them close to your body and lift up a foot and do each toe....and then the back foot....then turn dog around and hold the same way for both feet on that side.....I can try to send you an email of a pic showing you how if you would like! I bought my newest dremel at WalMart for $39.00 and since we charge 8.50 per nail trim at our clinic, it paid for itself before I got all 6 dogs done!!! Just Kiddin'---I wouldn't have to pay for my nail trims, since I work at the clinic, but if I did, it would pay for itself!!!
    GOOD LUCK!!!! Let me know if you have any questions on the dremel!
  11. missouri gal New Member

    l_l_a---I AM SO SORRY for your experience!!! I hope you've changed vets!!! I, myself just lost my GSD to cancer last year.....I still miss seeing her coming to meet me when I get home!! Good for you--all the hard work you and your husband have done for your baby!!!! YIPPEE!!!!
    Unfortuneately, I have been the "nurse" in that instance more than I like to admit......although it usually takes 3 of us girls to do the nail trimming since our vet trusts us and is usually busy actually "Diagnosing and treating" other animals....He really is awesome to work for and it shows when he trusts us not to get bit in those instances!! It is so hard having to do that to an animal--just because the homework at home was not done---and the dog only comes in once a year for it's vx and a nail trim--usually lives outside tied to a tree!!!! Thank goodness I don't see this often....Nails grow so fast--esp on big dogs and should be done every 4 weeks--or else the blood supply grows down with the nail and you can only take so much nail off before you hit the "quick" and it bleeds (that is why sometimes if you've let too much time go between nail trims, the groomer can only trim a little off and the nail still looks long,....they can only take so much off since they do not want the dog to bleed and have a bad experience and be nervous to go back to see the groomer!!)--It causes them pain also and so ANOTHER reason the dog does not want it's feet messed with--"it ALWAYS hurts when you touch my feet" is all they think about and then they try to fight tooth and nail to get away from the pain!!
    Most people drop their dogs off for nail trims at our clinic--we have kind of trained the clients that way, I guess over the years---usually the dogs behave better for us when the owner is nowhere around (kind of like dropping your little one off at the sitter's and they have been so good all day, but the minute you walk in the door, they become some maniac you have no clue WHOSE child this is??)...NO Kidding!! We do not do this so we can abuse their dogs without them knowing-----We only restrain if we **HAVE** to , so the dog does not get hurt, or so it does not hurt us!! We use calming voices, petting, even massage..it tkaes more time, but it is worth it for less strain and less REstraint on the animal!! I've done it all---We use so many treats at our clinic for vx and nail trims...our vet thinks we should buy into the stock of the company that we buy our treats from!! We want it to be a positive experience for them, so they come wagging their tails in the door...not having to be dragged through the door, 4 legs splayed out, eyes bugging, wetting all over themselves----the poor dears!! That vet does not truly care about his animals!! That's all I have to say on THAT subject!! Sigh.......
  12. l_l_a New Member

    hi Missouri Gal! I'm so sorry for your loss of your GSD last year. and oh I do sympathize with the vet assistants who do have to restrain big dogs! Hey, if the dog needs a procedure done, he needs it done and you don't always have all day to do it especially if it's an emergency or if the clinic is busy.

    Yeah we changed vets, same clinic but different vet. My dog is fine with all the other vets because they are friendlier, warmer, more compassionate, and gentle. He lets them do anything to him and they all say he's a sweetheart. But that one mean vet - ugh. He was an older gentleman, seemed very old school and his attitude toward dogs was to treat them more like livestock. When I saw that my dog was uncomfortable with him because he was being very rough and "menacing", I asked him if he could please go a bit slower but he refused, said something like "I don't have all day, and I've been doing this for 30 years so trust me this is how it's done and your dog will be fine." I watched as my dog went from feeling slightly uncomfortable (at which point just going a little slower would have put him at ease) to the situation rapidly escalating to my dog panicking and requiring a muzzle, to all out freaking and thrashing around on the floor losing control of his bowels, and loosening the muzzle! and the vet had the nerve to tell ME that next time I should have my husband bring in the dog since I obviously can't handle my dog!! I wanted to punch him!!

    Basically I took my dog to the vet because he was limping on and off. The next day I had some questions and wanted to call the vet but I was so disgusted with him I asked my husband to make the call instead. When my husband aired my concerns, apparently the vet's response was, "Do YOU think the dog is OK?" and my husband said "I don't know, I wasn't around when the dog got injured so I'm going by what my wife said." The vet's response was, "well you know women - they always make a big deal out of nothing. If YOU think the dog is OK then he probably is." As much as I can't stand this guy, my father-in-law has also taken his dogs there and says this exact same vet is very nice and friendly to him and even called to check up on their dogs. What a chauvisnistic $%*@#$#!! Even the other younger vets in the clinic don't like him. From now on whenever I take my dog in, I simply request to have ANY vet except this old guy!
  13. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Oh I would not have been able to hold my tongue, |_|_a. I would have been FURIOUS! He would be tucking his tail by the time I got done chewing him out(provided I could control my anger enough to not punch him!) Grr.... :dogmad: Sounds like you work for an awesome vet, Missouri Gal! Yay, Missouri Gal...I'm not the only cowgirl here anymore! :doglaugh: Lol. =)
  14. missouri gal New Member

    Oh, l_l_a.....
    My heart goes out to you......I think I would have taken my dog out of there and *Never* graced their doors again!! And let them know about it all the way out the door as well as any other clients within ear shot!!
    I am so sorry that *some* men can be so set in their ways (this does not go for most of you gentlemen I've seen here, so please do not get your hackles up!! lol!!) and the way they were brought up and not see that it is alot of times the "women" who take care of "everything" at home from kids, laundry, cooking, dishes, cleaning toilets that they can't hit, and cleaning up the vomit from Their sick kids, and rocking them back to sleep while the *men* are snoring in the same room--as well as getting up earlier than they do to get dogs fed, out to potty, chores done*OUTSIDE* I might add....then come in to take a shower and get ourselves beautified, kids up, fed, ready for school and do most of the *%#@! other things too numerous to mention...and we know more about our animals because we are WITH them more!!! How dare he be so brazen to tell you that you do not have control over your animal when it is HIS "aura and emotions" the dog is feeding off of??? JERK!! He was wrong in telling your husband that----is your hubby a vet?? Can he diagnose...No, otherwise you would not have paid good $ to find out what was wrong, only to be belittled and embarrassed and be told "Nothing"!!
    Sorry....kinda got carried away for a minute!!
    Actually, it's not like that at our house, but I've been there, believe me! I will not be treated like that ANYWHERE! And I sure as heck wouldn't give them my money!! And of COURSE your father in-law gets along fine with him--same gender, same age?? Just wondering---do they only have small dogs that your father-in-law can **control**?
    Stick with the younger guys---they know more about how to treat people kinder and with more empathy...and understand your dogs are a part of your "family"..., plus they are more apt to keep searching for an answer instead of giving up!

    So, l_l_a...does he still limp..what was wrong?? Did they xray or just put him on anti-inflammatories? Be careful with some of those *Safe* drugs out there--they can still clog up liver and kidney function...if the docs want to do a blood panel every 6 months.....I don't know...since I am more of an all natural person myself--I'd question it...This is where my vet and I don't always see eye to eye--we have a few "discussions" about it at times...and I keep plugging away showing how right I am at times...and he is slowly getting to bend a bit more --it's taken 2 years, but he is bending!! Lol!!
    Just be careful and don't be afraid/too angry to stand up for your animal--trust your gut instinct--you have it for a reason! Listen to it!!

    I like this saying we have up on the wall at our clinic!!

    "A Dog Is For LIFE...Not Just For Christmas!" How True, How True!

    Happy Trails!!
  15. lurchergirl New Member

    Our Pyrenees can't actually do too many tricks... my fault entirely. But he can lay down and roll over (both useful), he can "stand still", he has no problem having any part of his body examined (e.g. ears, teeth, tail etc.), he is fine having his nails clippped and he knows "move" (away from the telly so I can see something... :dogtongue2:) and he knows "settle" (go and lie down and be calm). He can also walk backwards, also useful because they always stand in the way... :dogrolleyes::doglaugh:

    I am now also teaching him things like twist, crawl and a few other bits and pieces which have nothing to do with practical, but will increase his mobility and co-ordination!

    Vera
  16. dbla83 New Member

    hi guys i have a boston terrier puppy zoey and i dont know what kind of treats i should give her ?
  17. bordeaux New Member

    I've been trying to teach my french mastiff things like Bow, Crawl, Walk backwards, Shake hands and Play dead. So far he's almost 2 and knows none of these and thats not through lack of trying. Mastiffs are not know for their love of doing anything other than sleeping lol.
    But he does have a perfect sit, drop, stay and heel. Which given his size I find more important.

    As for vets, I've found it so hard to find one I like and trust to look after my dog. Late last year Griffen had cherry eye, the vet I took him to wouldn't even come close enough to give him a check up, just looked and said thats going to cost around $800 call back to book him in. We got a second oppinion from a vet that wasn't afraid to pat him who told us we could pay for the expense op but theres a 90% chance it wouldnt work or we can do a cheaper op thats almost 100% effective.

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