3 Simple Tips For A Merry Christmas With Your Dog

By Jean Cote | Posts , Tips

Hi everyone,

I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and to your dog(s)! This year has been totally amazing; we’ve grown and learned so much together. I even got a brand new bigger and better recording studio! (Stay tuned for an update on this)

Here are 3 simple tips to keep your dog “sane” during the holiday season:

  1. Exercise your dog before your guests arrive. An intense hour exercise session will do wonders for your dog. He will be more calm and relaxed and will deal better with all of the stress that comes with the holidays.
  2. Set-up a special room where your dog can retreat to if things get too loud for him. Place his bed or his crate in that room along with fresh water.
  3. Tell your guests not to give your dog any table food. You can set up a bowl of dog treats if you want them to get your dog to do tricks.

Got another tip? Leave a comment below! 🙂

Why I Love My Dog Pt. 2

By Jean Cote | Personal , Posts

Hi there,

Meet my dog Chase, she’s the friendliest Border Collie I’ve ever met!

In fact, as a puppy they had nicknamed her ‘Kisses’ because she would kiss everyone that she met. (She still does that!)

In this blog post, you will learn why I love my dog and how she’s impacted my life…

The photographs you see on this page were taken today in my ‘home-made’ studio.

Here’s why I love my dog…

  • She is the most playful dog I have ever seen. I often wish that I had her energy. She will literally play until she is completely exhausted. And after 10 minutes, she’ll want to play again.
    The funniest thing happens when I watch a movie on TV. Chase wants to play so badly that she’ll bring all of her toys to me, and I usually don’t notice until the end of the movie at which point I am surrounded by toys.
  • She is the best ‘work-buddy’. I used to be allowed to bring her to work with me and she’d be there to cheer me up as I worked through the day. Sadly the new regulations don’t allow me to bring my dog with me anymore … but I still sneak her in sometimes. (shh, nobody is supposed to know)
  • She is so easy to train. Border Collies are notorious for being smart and Chase learns new behaviors and tricks very quickly. Although she prefers tricks and behaviors that are physically demanding, like weaving in and out of my legs (figure eight) or jumping in my arms.
  • Do you want to know what’s the best though? She’s an awesome swimmer and loves to jump in the pool to retrieve a toy or just to cool off. It really makes the summer that much more enjoyable!

Below, you can watch a short video recorded today of Chase doing some tricks. This is just something we do for fun!

Although she would do those tricks simply to please me, I usually reward her with a toy (her much preferred reward).

How about you? Why do you love your dog?

Leave a comment below and let me know!

Why I Love My Dog Pt. 1

By Jean Cote | Personal , Posts

Hi there…

Meet my dog Onyx, she’s my personal favorite Siberian husky (I know, I’m a little biased, he he)

I wanted to create a short blog post about the reasons why I love my dog and how she’s impacted my life..

The photographs you see on this page were taken today in my ‘home-made’ studio.

Here’s why I love my dog…

  • She is the most outgoing dog I have ever had in my entire life. She desperately wants to meet strangers, play with other dogs and really just wants to explore the world. In fact, I think of her as a little ‘explorer’.
  • She is an ‘angel’ in the house. Well, kind of. Of course when she was growing up she had to learn the house rules. I remember when she was just a puppy she completely unrolled a roll of toilet paper because it was just so darn fun to play with.
    Oh… And how could I forget how she figured out a way to unlock her crate? That’s right! I’d get home and she’d be so happy wagging her tail and I was there thinking … hmm.. Did I forget to put her in her crate?
  • She has been (and continues to be) my biggest challenge as a trainer. Because she is so happy and instinctively wants to explore the world, trusting her off leash has been a challenge.
    But when there is a will, there is a way! Through the power of positive reinforcements, I was able to compete with her in Agility and win 1st place! (I won’t mention that she was the only dog competing at 26″ that day, oops, I just did.)
  • But more importantly … she is my best friend. She cares when nobody else does. She’s there when I’m bored and got nothing else to do… But also, she’s the happiest dog to welcome me when I come home! What else could you ask for?

On the right, you can watch a video recorded today of Onyx’s recall. This is something we’ve worked a lot through the years.

As you can see, it was pouring, so I didn’t want her to get all muddy so I whistled (which is her cue for coming) and she immediately ran inside the house.

Excellent response! I even rewarded the behavior with a some praise “Good Girl!”

How about you? Why do you love your dog?

Leave a comment below and let me know!

Raising a Puppy – Tips and Advice

By Sally Gutteridge | Posts , Puppies

Do you have a new puppy in your home, or are you thinking of taking on a young dog to live with you?

How you introduce a puppy to new experiences is an important job that needs some thought and research if you want it to grow into a well socialized and friendly adult dog.

A puppy can be easier to socialize than an adult dog that has already learned a fear based reaction. In this article you will learn some of the experiences that your puppy will need to go through in order to prevent a nervous and fear based reaction later on.

A dog will be happier to accept new and sometimes unnerving situations if they are introduced in a positive manner. By using treats, play and your own confident unfazed reaction you can teach your puppy that new experiences are fun and nothing to worry about. Read on for some useful tips about the importance of socialization to a new puppy.

Early Days

Before your puppy is vaccinated and ready to go out walking it is worth speaking to your veterinarian on whether it’s wise to carry your dog into populated areas. Some areas have high levels of infectious disease and others are lower risk, your vet will be able to let you know how dangerous it would be to socialize your puppy by carrying him outside of the home.

It is beneficial to a puppy to broaden his social experience from as young an age young as possible. By doing this you will be decreasing his sensitivity to new experiences, unusual sounds and other things that could be deemed frightening if not experienced early on. Good and ethical dog breeders will introduce puppies to household sounds, children and as many new situations as possible from the day that they are born. It is also possible to buy desensitization soundtrack to play in the background at home which will gently acclimatize your puppy to the sounds of traffic, fireworks, thunderstorms and many other sounds.

Meet the Masses

When your puppy is protected from disease by being fully vaccinated take him to as many places as possible. Open days, barbeques and busy parks will all provide a puppy with social experiences. Make each of these experiences positive for your puppy by offering treats and ensuring that you don’t put him into a position where he feels fearful or threatened. Many veterinarians offer puppy classes that get a group of young dogs together for games and crucial canine interaction, under careful supervision. If possible it is certainly worth attending a class such as this.

By meeting and spending time with a broad range of people your puppy will learn that such an experience is pleasurable. Contact with people of all ages that offer physical attention and small but tasty treats will create a confident and happy dog. Canine interaction with other dogs is paramount to ensure that your puppy learns to interact and respect others of his species. Many dogs that have fear based or aggressive reactions to other dogs were simply not socialized from a young age.

Teeth, Feet and Ears

Preparing your new puppy for his lifestyle includes introducing him to grooming and possible vet treatments. This preparation involves handling him all over his body including looking in his eyes, ears, mouth and touching him all over including his paws. Do this every day and make it a fun and rewarding experience. You can do this by offering a reward of either physical and verbal praise or a small food reward to reinforce regular relaxed handling.

Regular handling and grooming of your puppy will prepare him to be a relaxed dog when he is being treated by the veterinarian or yourself. By checking his ears, eyes and teeth regularly you will teach him that this action is nothing to worry about. Later on if you do have to put in ear drops or similar your dog will welcome the action far more than if you had not regularly carried out the action of looking in his ears as part of his daily routine. Regular handling prevents an issue when treatment is necessary by showing your dog that there is nothing to worry about.

So by realizing your puppy’s social needs and meeting them as he develops into an older dog you will be helping him to become a confident, friendly and secure adult dog. Register to the forum and begin to talk to thousands of other dog owners, you are sure to find a lot of good and positive advice on raising your puppy.

The Best Way to Train a Puppy – Positive Reinforcement

By Sally Gutteridge | Posts , Puppies

Training a puppy can feel like the most difficult thing in the world to do. Advice from dog training professionals can sometimes seem conflicting and a new puppy owner can easily feel that they have no idea which is the right way to train their young dog. Are you a new puppy owner that would like to know the best and most effective way to train your new family member to behave nicely?

Positive reinforcement is the only effective, kind and long term dog training technique that your puppy will truly enjoy. The theory behind this type of training is that you always reinforce a behavior that you would like your puppy to repeat and ignore each action that you would prefer your puppy to leave behind. Many professional dog trainers use positive reinforcement to train older dogs that are going to carry out a role of employment such as assist a disabled person or search for an item.

Here I will explain how simple it is to use reinforcement by providing a positive result to a behavior offered by your puppy. This training ethic is a way of molding your puppy into a dog who behaves in a way that is useful to you and healthy for him. It is also great fun to carry out. Read on to discover how easy and enjoyable it is to train your puppy using positive reinforcement.

Toilet Training

Never punish your puppy if he has an accident in the home. He has simply not learned yet where he should go to “perform”. Offer him plenty of opportunity to toilet outside, observe throughout and then when he does toilet outdoors reward the action with plenty of praise and a game or treat.

A young dog wants to please you. They like the result that your pleasure provides, which is praise and a reward. Therefore by showing your dog that you are over the moon with his action of toileting outdoors you will trigger something in him that makes him want to repeat the action. It won’t happen overnight but by repeating this over a few days you will be using positive reinforcement to toilet train your puppy.

Come when called

A young puppy is not designed to run away. Dogs prefer to be near other creatures and this includes human beings. Recall problems occur when the environment is more interesting that the person doing the calling. Positive reinforcement when used as a technique for training recall is easy. Always reward the puppy when he returns to you. Be an interesting and worthwhile prospect. You can also vary your tone of voice to grab the attention of your puppy; anyone that has worked with puppies will confirm the effectiveness of “puppy, puppy, puppy” delivered in a high pitch to get a litter of puppies racing towards them.

By offering a bonus for a prompt and keen return to you then you are reinforcing a good recall. Think of it this way, the dog will choose the most gratifying option to himself. So make yourself and the treats/toys that you carry reward enough to overcome any distraction then ensure that the reward is sufficient to bring him running back next time you call.

Ignore the unhelpful behavior

One of the most important rules when training your puppy with positive reinforcement is that you do not inadvertently reinforce unhelpful behavior. If your puppy is offering a behavior that is, or could develop into a problem you can make this behavior extinct by simply ignoring it. For example if a dog that is jumping up for attention, is then picked up into the arms of his target, he has just been taught to jump up. Which is cute behavior from a 2kg puppy but not so welcome from a 40kg Labrador.

Ignoring the unhelpful act and offering a favorable reward for the behavior that you would like repeated is a useful way to mold a nicely behaved puppy. As an intelligent creature, your young dog will soon learn that he gets the best result from certain actions then strive to achieve the result again and again.

Check out Jean Cote’s new obedience training program which utilizes positive reinforcement as a way to train your dog in everyday good behavior and to teach him fun actions along the way.

How to Teach a Dog to Fetch

By Sally Gutteridge | Posts , Tricks

Do you ever watch dog owners and their pets playing with a ball or toy in the park and wish that your own dog would fetch his toy as nicely? Perhaps your own unwilling canine simply looks towards you and his thrown ball before wandering off to sniff around a nearby bush. His lack of interest in bringing anything back, leaving you with no option but to retrieve the toy yourself?

The good news is that almost any dog will enjoy a game of fetch and learn to play with enthusiasm if you make the activity enjoyable. By reading on, you can learn, in easy steps, how to make your dog focus on his toy and teach him that a retrieve game is rewarding.

There are great benefits to owning a dog that enjoys fetch games. Advantages include the ability to provide beneficial exercise in a small place and short time. A dog that runs regularly and with enthusiasm to fetch a ball a few times will reap physical benefits from short bursts of high energy and good muscle tone. This type of game is perfect for using up energy when time is short, before dog training sessions and during time limited exercise periods.

How to teach a dog to fetch in three easy stages

The Valuable Toy

  • Find a toy that your dog loves. Work out which toy your dog likes most, you can do this by playing with a number of toys and seeing which he gets most excited about. You can improvise with toys by putting a ball in an old sock initially and encouraging tug games or if your dog likes food as a reward you can place something that smells and tastes nice inside a toy and give him the chance to try and get it out.
  • By encouraging your dog to play with a particular toy you will be showing him how much fun this toy can be. This will increase his motivation to chase it when the toy is thrown. You will also be increasing the value of the toy because anything that promotes fun activity with you as his owner will become a high value resource to your dog.

Increase Motivation

  • When your dog sees his toy as something special and likes to play with or carry it around you can begin to limit access to the toy. Take it away at the end of a game and put it out of sight. Limit sessions where you play with the toy together to a few minutes at a time. Always swap the toy for something with your dog though as this will encourage him to let go of it nicely and take away the risk of guarding it.
  • By making the toy more of a valuable item you will be increasing your dog’s motivation to chase it when it’s thrown. This increase of interest will firstly encourage the initial chase to retrieve his toy and secondly ensure that he is confident and interested enough to hold the toy for long enough to carry it back to you after he picks it up.

Building frustration and swapping his toy

  • When your dog gets the idea that he goes to fetch a toy when thrown you can build his frustration. Do this by holding his collar and throwing the toy, hold him for a few seconds then running with him to the toy, this is great as a race. He will really enjoy this game. When he does bring the toy you can swap it with him for something interesting, sometimes it is useful to have two toys exactly the same.
  • By building your dogs frustration you will be making this game extremely fun for him. Holding him back from running to fetch a thrown toy will certainly make him want to perform an enthusiastic chase routine. By swapping his fetched toy for food or something equally rewarding you will be encouraging your dog to bring his toy back to you rather than run gleefully around the park with it.

Training your dog to fetch a toy will be one of the most useful and rewarding things you teach him. For more information and many other things that you can do with your dog, visit our dog forum where you can also chat and share experiences with many other dog owners.

Different Breeds of Dogs – Considering a New Pet

By Sally Gutteridge | Breeds , Posts

Are you thinking of introducing a new dog into your home but confused about what type of dog would suit your family and lifestyle? Perhaps you can’t decide whether to give a home to an adult dog or puppy and need a little more information or advice before making a decision?

Read on to learn some interesting facts about common dog breeds and the traits that they can bring into a family home. Every dog will either be a pure breed, or if a cross breed, its looks and behavior will show what type of dog it is genetically related to. When you choose a dog it is certainly important to try and match its needs to your own needs as an owner. By taking the fundamental needs of breeds of dogs into consideration you are most likely to succeed in your choice of new dog. Here are some useful tips to consider when finding a dog to take home.

Breed type

Research the breed type of any dog that you are interested in. Learn from the internet and other dog owners any problems that they have needed to deal with when living with a dog of this particular breed. Find people that already live with a dog of this breed and ask if they have any common problems.

Carrying out some research will ensure that you are expecting the breed traits that your new dog may show in your home. You can also recognize common health problems if you know what to look for when choosing your dog. An example of this could be the gait of a German shepherd dog which to the informed eye can show quite obvious signs of severe hip problems.

Exercise needs

Find out the exercise needs of the dog that you would like to take home and match them to your own exercise routines. It is worth researching how much mental stimulation a dog needs too as all dogs are different but animals of the same breed can show striking similarities.

Some dogs are built to run for miles and enjoy long challenging walks. Other breeds of dog are happy with shorter walks and lots of relaxation time. When choosing a dog it is important that you are honest with yourself about how much exercise that you can realistically offer. A dog that needs a lot of exercise can develop problems within the home if its basic exercise needs are not met. Mental needs of pet dogs also vary greatly, some will become bored quickly and demand attention and others are happy to relax for most of the day. Decide how much time you have to offer for dog training needs and match these to the needs of the dog you choose. This careful planning will be worth it long term.

The working dog

Dogs originally bred to work will have traits and needs, sometimes diluted, that will need to be met to ensure happiness in the home. If you like a dog that was originally or still is a working breed then you can get an idea of how it will behave by looking into its role when employed. Look into the breed and find out whether it is still bred to work now or predominantly a pet. Some dogs have working type and show type; this includes the cocker spaniel and Labrador. Both of the aforementioned can offer very different types of same breed dogs.

Careful consideration of breed type with view to the dog performing a function will give you an idea of how much mental and physical stimulation that the dog may need in order to stay happy and fulfilled. An example of this is the Border collie who is a popular pet and can behave perfectly in the home when its needs are met. The collie however is bred for rounding up and herding sheep therefore has a lot of energy so will need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation to be happy in a family home.

Choose your new dog with care and careful consideration, the little extra time spent on research will help you to understand both whether a dog is suited to you and why he behaves like he does. If you would like access to a great community of dog lovers to share your questions please visit our friendly and information packed dog forum.

How to Crate Train a Puppy

By Jean Cote | Posts , Puppies

Have you ever wondered how professional trainers are able to crate train a puppy and get him or her to be quiet while inside?

In this article, not only will you learn exactly how to crate train a puppy, but you will also learn a very effective way of conditioning your puppy to absolutely love his crate. This type of training is used throughout the world by professional dog trainers as a way of building a positive association to things, dogs, situations or in this case: to his crate.

The very first thing that you must do is find out what your puppy finds highly valuable. Let your puppy tell you what he or she finds valuable. If your puppy loves treats, experiment and try to find the one special type of treat that your puppy goes crazy for. Is it chicken, pork, sausage or cheese? Observe your puppy’s behavior and see which one your puppy is most enthusiastic about.

If your puppy is not food motivated, no worries! You can use his favorite toy instead. And of course, there is always your voice and physical touch which you can use to praise and reward your puppy. By knowing what your dog values the most, it will allow you to transfer that value into something else.

Are you ready to start conditioning your puppy? Don’t worry, this part is easy! Place your crate in the middle of a room with the door open, and let your puppy wander about. Don’t say anything; just wait quietly for your puppy to enter the crate on his own. As soon as your puppy enters the crate, immediately throw your reinforcement inside the crate, whether it is a treat, a toy or by verbally praising and cheering him or her for entering the crate.

By doing this, your puppy will learn that good things happen when he goes inside the crate. After just a few repetitions, your puppy will want to go inside the crate on his own because it is a source of goodies.

Note: In the beginning, it is important not to close the door behind him while he is in the crate. Many dog owners make the mistake of putting their puppy inside the crate, closing the door and leaving. Doing this creates a negative association to the crate, because the puppy loses his freedom and is not in any way reinforced for going inside the crate.

To summarize, learning how to crate train a puppy isn’t complicated, you simply have to make the crate a fun thing to be around. In the first few weeks that you bring your puppy home, I highly recommend that you play this game with your puppy and continue to build a positive association. Eventually, you can wait a second or two before giving your reinforcement. This will build duration to the behavior of being inside the crate.

To learn more about effective and positive ways of training your puppy, register to our dog forum and talk to hundreds of other dog owners who have dealt with the very same struggles you are facing today.

A Lesson Learned: Feed My Dog on My Terms

By Sally Gutteridge | Personal , Posts

Extreme barking, of the high pitched Yorkshire terrier variety, is by far enough every morning to have me click on the kettle and feed my dog. I pop open the dog treats purely to silence the demanding holler.  Being a somewhat relaxed dog trainer has its perks but this is not one of them. Each bark provokes a twitch of the eyelid equal to none.

The Yorkie in question is a tiny female called Penny, rescued from a classified ad with her four sisters because they had reached the end of their breeding use. Penny is 4kg and 10 years old.

Despite her tiny size and generous age, Penny the Yorkie has me wrapped around her little paw. I know that I am reinforcing her bark by rewarding it with a treat. I know that she will never stop whilst the tirade is fueled with a gravy bone. This morning I even thought about giving her a second treat because she didn’t settle too well after the first.

I feed my dog because she demands it. I admit that she is actually, albeit inadvertently, trained to bark for a biscuit. I did this by reinforcing the first bark and in response I feed my dog every time she carries out the unhelpful behavior. She is simply doing what I have taught her. My advice to you is never get into this position with your dog. It is much more difficult to remove a reinforced habit than to train a good one in the first place.

Dogs are bright creatures. They will soon begin to read each little behavior that you carry out, then chain them together in the hope that this chain leads to a walk or dinnertime. Watch your own dog as he reacts to things you do. Particularly at the times of day he normally gets a meal. If he always observes a behavior of yours that leads to him being fed then he will soon begin to anticipate the meal. Soon his behavior will show the anticipation and the big brown expectant eyes will have you thinking “I had better feed my dog”.

If you are responding to his behavioral prompt to feed him then it will not take your dog long to realize this. Now all he needs to do is decide that he would like his meal earlier in the day, or before you were ready to offer it. Your dog will soon work out that if he bugs you long enough then he will prompt mealtime. He knows that you will automatically think it must be time to feed my dog. You have probably already wondered how your dog knows the time. He doesn’t, he just knows what you do each day before it’s his dinner time.

This works in exactly the same way with treats, walks and everything else that your dog will benefit from. I knew a hearing dog specifically trained to touch his owner and lead to a sound. Every single day at dinnertime this lovely dog would touch his owner and lead to the food tub. A cute trick which he had learned by prompting for food and that his owner had happily reinforced.

So, to prevent the demanding behavior at mealtimes is actually quite easy. Never allow it to develop in the first place. Do not respond to your dog’s prompts with his infiltration of the idea to your mind of, I must feed my dog. Do not even acknowledge these prompts. These thinly veiled hints can range from kicking the food bowl, barking, whining and scratching at you or the food cupboard.  If they begin to develop just change your routine slightly to keep his mealtime a surprise.

Another thing that will help you whilst feeding your dog is control during mealtimes. You can teach him that only by offering a sit position until released will you provide his food. This is an easy thing to teach by simply asking him to sit and wait whilst you place the food onto the floor. If he moves from the position before you give permission then just take the food out of his reach until he sits back down. When he sits and waits nicely just release him by saying something like “take it”.

Initially this may need to be repeated a few times but will quickly become the established behavior at mealtimes.

The way our dogs work things out is brilliant. Their thought processes are intriguing to bear witness to and next time you think I had better feed my dog, take a look around and see what your canine is up to. You might be surprised.