The *Up/Down Game is all about teaching your dog to focus but without the pressure we often put on ourselves and our dogs.
Start by introducing this game at home either in your back yard or inside your house. Take a handful of food and drop one piece on the ground right in front of your dog, when he eats the food and looks back up at you toss another piece. Continue to toss one piece at a time only when your dog looks up at you.
Make it harder by tossing the piece of food a little further away from you and only toss the next piece when your dog looks at you, then you can start to turn your back on your dog and wait for him to come and find you. Over time you can play this game during your walks around distractions.
The Up/Down Game is a fantastic way to engage your dog before you ask him to perform a more difficult skill and it also helps settle over excited or anxious dogs. This game can be played by any dog, at any level and even children will enjoy this game. The only place the Up/Down Game should not be played is in close proximity to other dogs as it has the potential to trigger a guarding response.
If your dog shows no interest in the food or looses interest during the game you may have expected too much too soon, go back a step and use a food your dog loves. For example if your dog can play this in the back yard but looses interest during a walk start playing the game in your driveway as an intermediate step. This intermediate step is great for any dog who has difficulty controlling their excitement at the beginning of the walk as well.
Take a look at the video of Nemo and I playing the Up/Down Game, this is the very first time Nemo has played.
*The Up/Down Game was created by Leslie McDevitt, an American trainer who has written many wonderful books, one being Control Unleashed: The Puppy Program.
A spoiled dog does not have to be a terror.
We live with dogs because they offer us companionship, closeness, unconditional love and loyalty, and these can be strengthened by sharing our space and love in the best way we know how, through physical closeness and sharing of resources. However, traditionally we have been told we will spoil our dogs with such ‘indulgences’. Continue reading
When two dogs meet there is always an element of arousal until both dogs have learned a little about each other. During this time a few things can occur, both dogs engage in play, or the dogs sniff each other and the interaction is over and finally, one dog wants to interact but the other does not. In order to have the smoothest meeting all handlers should learn to communicate their dogs needs, likes and dislikes with others at this time. Human communication and respect at the beginning of an interaction is a key ingredient in managing dogs effectively.
Take this scenario as an example. Two dogs meet, Rex a green dog with little impulse control and Fido a more reserved or mature dog. Rex will be over the top bouncing around Fido’s face trying to initiate play. Fido will be moving his head away, possibly trying to sniff the ground or trying to completely avoid Rex. If Fido’s subtle cues of ‘no thank you, I don’t want to play’ are ignored he has no choice but to turn up the volume by growling, teeth baring and air snapping at Rex, meaning ‘I said NO!’ How could have this been avoided? Continue reading
In my spare time I enjoy mountain biking and during the winter I head up to the snow fields for some skiing, these sports have colour coded runs based on the terrain and skill level of the participant. And just like mountain bike and ski runs dog walking locations could be colour coded too, being aware of the conditions and you and your dogs’ skill level means you can take responsibility for the difficulty or ease at which you want to walk and train.
Effectively training a dog is about learning to make the most informed decisions while you are walking your dog. There are no ‘run police’ on the ski slopes telling you that you cannot go down a particular run, you must make this decision based on a realistic understanding of your skill level. The same should occur when walking your dog, think about the distractions present, your dogs’ skill level, the equipment you have with you (such as food), temperament of your dog and your level of confidence before entering any area.
Examples of graded areas (streets and park spaces) may include the following. Continue reading
Dogs do throw tantrums, this behaviour often begins as experimental and normal but then is rewarded in one way or another so it becomes a habit that turns disruptive. Tantrums are a reactive behaviour to a situation in which your dog becomes frustrated or anxious and dogs who throw tantrums are usually green in their training, lack impulse control and may lack confidence too.
Tantrums can take the form of behaviours such as defiant barking, jumping (especially with arms wrapped around you), assertive biting/tugging clothing and/or the lead, refusal to move, or a combination of all of these behaviours. These are not to be confused with normal young dog mouthing and excitability, tantrums are usually much more intense, assertive and sometimes scary.
There are no teachable moments during the throes of a tantrum. It would be a mistake to Continue reading