January 25, 2011

Tips for Choosing a Dog Trainer

Filed under: training your dog — Dr. Amber Reed @ 5:07 pm

best dog trainersWhether trainingat home is not working out as well as you had expected or you just prefer professional training for your dog, you really need to take some time to make sure you choose a good dog trainer.  There are many dog training methodologies, some of which will not be compatible with how you choose to care for your dogs.  While most successful dog trainers use humane, science-based training methods, this is not always the case.  So, do your research and pick a trainer that will be effective using a positive training philosophy.

1.       Choose a trainer with real world dog experience.  Not all trainers have been in the business for very long so you’ll want to make sure your dog trainer has the necessary experience to effectively train your dog.  This is not to say that a novice trainer won’t be able to train your dog, but most dog owners want to get some references or recommendations from other customers.  Still, it’s more important that you choose a trainer with quality experience.

2.       Decide whether you prefer group classes or private training.  Obviously group classes are going to be less expensive but if your dog has had problems with aggression or is not very friendly with other dogs, private classes might be a better way to start.  Even if your dog is happy and social, private classes are considerably more effective.

3.       Don’t let price be the deciding factor.  Obviously the most experienced dog trainers are going to be the most expensive, especially if they have a good reputation.  Nevertheless, the price for training sessions should not be your deciding factor.  Narrow your results to a few trainers in your price range and then make your decision based on recommendations and experience.  Some dog trainers will even charge based on results rather than time.  In this case, you pay based on what your dog actually learns and if more sessions are required, they should be free of charge.

Ultimately, you want to choose a dog trainer that uses humane and proven training methods so that you know your dog will be treated respectfully but will also learn new behaviors.  Furthermore, if you develop some concerns about your trainers techniques, it’s never too late to ask for a refund.

August 12, 2010

Housetraining your Puppy

Filed under: training your dog — Dr. Amber Reed @ 7:44 am

Whether you’ve just gotten a new puppy or you’re caring for an older dog that has not been house trained, you probably know the importance of house training.  Obviously it is inappropriate to allow your dog to urinate or defecate in the house, but knowing how to teach them the appropriate behavior is another issue altogether.  Fortunately, housebreaking your dog doesn’t need to be difficult.  With positive, consistent training, your dog will be housebroken in no time.

One of the first things to remember when training your dog to do anything is that reinforcement works better than punishment.  A lot of dog owners are confused about how to rely on praise and reward rather than punishments because it doesn’t seem logical.  However, by praising your dog and rewarding good behaviors, you are much more likely to see immediate and lasting results.  This means you need to praise your dog whenever they urinate or defecate outdoors.

Another important factor to realize is that dogs sometimes urinate submissively.  In other words, when you scold your dog, he may pee as a sign of respect.  Dogs are pack animals with distinct ranks in their pack.  Your family is essentially your dog’s pack and he likely knows that he’s at the bottom of the totem pole.  Often, when dogs meet superior pack members they will squat and urinate, likewise when the pack members meet them with aggression.  So, if your dog urinates when scolded, he’s not really breaking housetraining, rather showing that he understands his position in the pack.

Finally, during any training plan it is imperative that you remain consistent.  Give your dog ample opportunity to toilet outside, and lead him outside when he demonstrates those behaviors that indicate he needs to toilet.  With consistent praise and patience, you’ll have a happily house trained dog.

May 20, 2010

Crate Training your Dog

Filed under: Crate Training,training your dog — Dr. Amber Reed @ 6:30 pm

dog crate trainingCrate training is an excellent tool in house training your dog but also has various side benefits as well.  Because dogs don’t like to toilet in their sleeping quarters, crate training can help teach a dog to relieve himself at more appropriate times.  By temporarily confining your dog to a crate, your dog learns to fight the urge to urinate or defecate.  Moreover, kennel crates are the ideal travel cabin for your puppy and when dogs are comfortable in a crate it can be much easier to travel with them.  Nevertheless, the main reason to crate train your dogs is to control early toileting habits.  When your dog is in the crate, he will refrain from urinating and defecating.  Then, when you release your dog from the crate, you can praise it for toileting outside.

To crate train your dog you must first make your dog familiar with the crate.  Try leaving a small treat or bit of kibble in the crate to attract your dog.  Because your dog finds treats in the crate, he will build a positive association with it.  Be sure to give your dog lots of praise when he enters the crate to further reinforce this positive association.  canine stressAlso, be sure to gradually increase your dog’s time in the crate.  Allow him to enter the crate for short periods during the day before closing him in the crate overnight.  Leaving your dog in the crate overnight will prevent unnecessary accidents but may cause anxiety for your dog as well.  Finally, acclimatize your dog to the notion of your absence while it’s in the crate.  Leave the room for short periods of time, gradually lengthening the amount of time your dog is alone in the crate.

Eventually, your dog will happily enter his crate and will probably take comfort in the crate.  Remember that all training is most effective when it is combined with praise and reward.

May 5, 2010

Top Tips for Training Your Dog

Filed under: training your dog — Dr. Amber Reed @ 12:00 am

Whether you’re training a new puppy or you’re having behavioral problems with an older dog, here are a few tips that will help you get the most out of your training sessions.

  • Make Training Enjoyable. You and your dog should be enjoying training time.  Making training a positive experience will enhance the lessons that you’re giving and also ensure that you don’t get bored in the process.
  • Keep Training Sessions Short. For the most part, you should try to keep training sessions to 5 or 10 minutes so that you and your dog can maintain focus.  Also, dogs will be more motivated during shorter training sessions.
  • Reinforcement is the Most Effective. Many dog owners make the mistake of punishing dogs for poor behavior.  In fact, rewards or other forms of reinforcement are much more effective for modifying behavior than punishment.
  • Keep Tasks Simple. Dogs lose motivation as tasks become more difficult so keep your training simple and always try to teach the basic commands like sit, heal, come, and stay.  Similarly, keep commands simple so they’re easier for your dog to understand.  Most dogs will have a lot of difficulty associating complex commands with tasks or even simple commands with complex tasks so simplicity is always the best policy.
  • Use Powerful Rewards. Dogs respond most easily to food and praise so these should be your regular rewards.  Treats are obviously the most effective so they make the best rewards at first.  You can gradually introduce praise as a substitute for treats as the training sessions progress.  Also, when you use food as a reward it is much more effective before your dog has a meal rather than after.  Praise should be delivered in high, melodic tones as these are more pleasing for your dog.
  • Always End Training on a Positive. Never end a training session with a failed response from your dog.  For example, if you are teaching your dog to sit, don’t quit the training session because you’re frustrated.  Instead, you should be patient and end the session by rewarding your dog for success.

Most importantly, remember that training takes time but that all dogs will succeed if you are patient and understanding.

March 3, 2010

10 Tips on Potty Training your Dog

Filed under: dog potty training,potty training dogs,training your dog — Dr. Amber Reed @ 7:37 am

Getting a new puppy is truly an exciting time for your family. Welcoming a new pet provides a lot of fun and love but also requires a lot of work. One of the most important duties of the dog owner is potty training. With these simple tips, you should be able to quickly and easily potty train your dog.

    1. Crate Train – Dogs don’t like to toilet where they sleep so crate training can be a great way to prevent accidents during the night or when you’re away from home.
  • Record Puppy Business – Make a chart to track your puppy’s behavior. Maintain accurate records of when your puppy eats and when it typically needs to relieve himself and you’ll be ready to take him outside when it’s necessary.
  • Consistency, Consistency, Consistency – Always maintain consistent rules and a consistent schedule. Take him outside frequently during potty training and always feed him at the same time. Also, be consistent with praise and punishment so your dog gets clear signals.
  • Praise! Praise! Praise! – All behavioral studies show that praise is much more effective for altering your dog’s behavior than punishment. When you catch your dog demonstrating good behavior, reward him with a treat or a rub and he’ll be more likely to repeat that behavior.
  • Establish a Regular Toilet Territory – Toileting in the same area every time will help remind your dog to relieve himself when he’s outside. Dogs are easily excited by the prospect of a walk or some time outside so by toileting in the same area you are creating potent reminders for your dog to do his business.
  • Expect Accidents – In the early stages of potty training your dog, accidents will be common. Instead of punishing your dog for going inside, praise him when he goes outside.
  • Start Young – It’s always easier to train younger animals, regardless of the behavior, so start potty training your puppy as soon as possible.
  • Stubborn Puppies – Some dogs will require more training than others. The key is to be patient. Also, dogs who are punished when they go to the bathroom indoors might not understand why they’re being punished. If you don’t actually catch your dog going inside, don’t punish him.
  • Marking Territory – Dogs might mark their territory when they feel nervous or insecure but it is also a natural behavior. Male dogs that mark their territory inside may need to be neutered.
  • Submissive Urination – Young puppies will sometimes urinate when they are scared, upset, or excited but should never be punished. This behavior is uncontrollable and should stop by the time your puppy is 7 months old.


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Disclaimer: CritterCures is an educational resource, and all information herein is strictly for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure diseases, nor is it meant to replace the (prescribed) treatment or recommendations of your veterinarian or healthcare provider. Always inform your veterinarian or healthcare provider of any products that your pet are taking, including herbal remedies and supplements.