The Sekrit Dog Trainer’s Manual Part I

You want a good dog right? Doesn’t everyone? One that doesn’t bowl over the kids, bite people, snarl, snap, jump up, be bratty and act like a knucklehead at home or in public?

You go to a dog training class and the trainer’s dog is awesome. After a month, while your dog now knows a few things, but it’s still not calm and obedient. Everything is a struggle.

You teach Fluffykins “heel/sit/down//stay/stand/come” but that doesn’t help. You can’t afford a private trainer, or you’re discouraged and you don’t know what to do. Why is the dog trainer’s dog well-behaved and yours isn’t? Because they don’t have the time, in one hour a week to cover more than the basics. Most videos etc. are about how to train the dog–not how to live with it.

Here’s some insider tricks that will cut your training work down, make your dog easier to live with and you’ll suffer less “Am I being mean to my dog?” guilt.

Training will go faster and the neighbours will be awestruck by how well mannered your Fluffykins is.

#1 DOORS:

Teach the dog to sit at every door, in and out. First off, it will slow the dog down for when you want to go for a walk, getting it in a good frame of mind and just like video games–rushing the door, for a dog is dangerous. Plus YOU can get hurt. I can’t count the amount of people I’ve known that were injured around stairs and doors with dogs. [I also teach mine to sit at the top and bottom of stairs until I call, for safety reasons.]

Almost all dog trainers train their dogs in the “place” command or at least have a particular spot where Fido stays when they answer the door. This cuts down the door nonsense of over-excitement and leaping on the guests or others coming in the door. Also, the “place” command has saved many a pizza. Remember, a dog’s speed is directly proportional to the amount of slices and quantity of available pepperoni.

Never greet a dog at the door. Ignore it. Every time.  Cesar Milan called it right on this one. No Touch. No Talk. No Eye Contact.

Yeah, I know that happy wagging tail makes you want to cuddle His Royal Cuteness right away but YIELD NOT TO TEMPTATION. You’ll thank me for it in less than a month when coming home with groceries and you aren’t mugged at the door for your gourmet hamburgers.

#2 LEARN TO COUNT:
If you want to teach an obedience command, if you do it 10x every day for the 7 days between classes [or between video lessons etc] then by the end of the week your dog will have done that command 70 times. The time it takes for a dog dumber than a bag of rocks or more stubborn than a cat to learn a command is 35 repetitions. You’ve doubled it and you have a smart dog, right?  Take that dog to its next class and wow your fellow classmates. No excuses–it takes 15 minutes a day a week to learn one new command. In twenty to thirty minutes you can mix it up with all the old commands. All the basics can be done in 6 weeks Now, WHO doesn’t have “time to train”?

#3 THE WEEK OF DOOM

The Week of Doom aka The Attitude Adjustment: This is a game changer for a disrespectful or teenage rebel dog or oooo, the poor rescue dog <weep sob>. Doesn’t matter if you’ve messed it up and spoiled Fluffykins forever, it will still help as long as all the family members abide by it for seven days. Not only will it help the dog–it will help YOU and your family develop good dog management habits.

The marvellous thing about the Week of Doom is that no matter how much you’ve messed up–this is your chance to improve it. Age doesn’t matter. Length of time you owned the dog doesn’t matter.

Even if you are working with a dog trainer over aggression, it won’t hurt and could move things along a lot faster. It will cause a nervous dog to see you as more stable and trustworthy.

One reason dog trainers are more successful in getting your dog to be obedient than you are, is that dogs are their living–they depend on results and they have no strong emotional bond to your animal.

So, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t love Fluffykins to bits. I’m saying that if your dog is treating you disrespectfully or training is a struggle, it’s time for The Week of Doom. You only have to hold out for one week because Fluffykins is likely to be obeying much better by day four but don’t give in. This is as much about who lives with the dog, as the dog.

So, gird your loins, polish your saddle and forward ho!

The dog gets NO freedom. All week. No toys. Take them away. Be firm. Be strong. Be a dog trainer for seven days. Nobody pets. Nobody plays. Nobody gives the dog treats. Just tell them, “Fluffykins is on his Week of Doom.

If the dog has to potty, take it on a leash. No shooing it out into the back yard. If you are inside the dog is either in “place” or laying down at your feet while you keep it down by stepping on the leash. Walk it to food and water–it is NEVER off the lead. If it needs exercise, use a long rope or lunge line and play ball or let it run a bit. Don’t allow any other dog to approach or play with your dog.

It must obey every command it knows, 100% of the time to perfection. Don’t say anything you aren’t willing to back up for one whole week. If you can’t back it up, don’t say it. Make a commitment.

If it’s not with you, or someone else behaving on leash then it’s crated. It can’t sleep in the bed, nap on the couch or receive any other unearned [at this point] privilege. For one week, all privileges are revoked. No treats. In this whole week NEVER raise your voice. Fix problems that occur, don’t waste time yelling at the dog about them. Tell everyone else in the house to stop yelling at the dog, too.  It’s simple but it’s not easy. Nobody is to hit the dog or manhandle the dog–leash work ONLY. That’s the big commitment you have to make.

In my experience, people tend to yell or hit because A) it’s habit and B) they feel powerless over the dog’s behaviour. In the Week of Doom you have full control of the situation because you have your plan laid out before you and it’s as much your Week of Doom, as Fido’s.

Forward HO!

Unless the dog follows a command–it gets no petting. HOLD FAST! BE STRONG! It’s only one week. You’re not going to damage Fluffykin’s psyche by not petting for one week because in actual fact, if it was at a training kennel–that’s exactly what would happen.

What’s the purpose of this? It’s not to be mean or punitive. It’s to open up the dogs willingness to work with you and your willingness to work with the dog. By instituting The Week Of Doom you are saying, in dog terms, without violence, yelling or cruelty “I want to work with you. This is how we work together as a team. I am through with yelling at you, manhandling you, mis-communicating and treating you with a lack of respect.

I want the same in return. Now it’s time we worked as a team.”

If you make a mistake or are inconsistent during your Week of Doom, don’t give up and stop.

Just carry on boldly with your Week of Doom.

I’ve never seen a dog who didn’t improve its attitude exponentially after A Week of Doom. It won’t frighten the dog or freak them out even if it’s nervous because in dog terms, nobody is acting unstable. Quite the opposite. If the dog or you revert to your old habits a month or more after the exercise–go back to A Couple of Days of Doom or An Extra Week of Doom until you both improve. You can do it as many times as you and your dog need [especially if you’re a “yeller” or inconsistent] because it won’t hurt the dog.

Why is it called, “The Week of Doom“?

Because you will smile every time you think “We are working on our Week of Doom“. <Cue dramatic music> Smiling means not yelling and not being unstable in the eyes of the dog. It sounds like something from Lord of the Rings. It’s an adventure that you can handle for a week to improve your relationship with your dog. And the dog will pick up your positive attitude and be more willing to work with you.

Frodo’s quest to Mount Doom, saved Middle Earth.

Your quest on the Week of Doom is to improve your relationship with your dog.

End of Part I.

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100 Random Dogs Survey

Sooooooooooooooooo

I finished observing 100 random dogs.

Yes, this post might be a bit boring as far as consisting of mainly numbers until I add a few observations.

I was fairly lenient in my criteria.
Walk Nicely On Leash: a dog that didn’t pull the owner regardless of distractions.
Walk Off Leash : a dog that stayed within 6 feet of the owner without a leash regardless of distractions.
Recall: A dog that came within 4 feet of the owner the first time it was called regardless of distractions.
Good Companion: A dog that could walk nicely on leash, recall and did not jump up on people, growl, snarl, bark at people or dogs.

Basic Obedience: From basic behaviour would either qualify for, or could be “touched up” to pass a basic obedience trial.

For “walk nicely” I also walked my [heeling, leashed] dog near the leashed dog, if it was not pulling when I observed, up to 4 feet away. If the dog didn’t pull at that distance I passed it.

For recall, my dog was nearby laying down. About half the dogs were good enough that they recalled even with my dog running loose. If I did not see the dog recall–I didn’t count it. So, there may be some dogs that recall that weren’t counted in. Also, if the dog was on lead and the owner did not walk it off leash in my presence–there may be some dogs that would qualify as “off leash” as well.

Some dogs may be better or worse in circumstances other than what I saw them in. This was not a laboratory–it was in real life on the streets and in parks. I did not count behaviour I saw in dog parks.

Dogs Observed: 100
Walk Nicely On Leash: 15
Walk Off Leash : 13
Recall: 13
Good Companion: 11 [off leash heel not required]
Basic Obedience: 4

Since obviously, most of the dogs fell into ALL of the categories [other than nicely on leash] the amount of decently trained dogs in this city is pitifully small.

I have to wonder who the dog trainers are training–if 96% of dogs can’t make it past a basic obedience test. And I have to wonder why, in the day and age of dog trainers all over YouTube etc. why so many owners won’t even do the basic minimum training to ensure the dog’s safety in a city environment.

Stupid Shit That Dog Owners Do

“Never underestimate the dangerousness of a dog’s natural reflexes”–Charles Eisenmann, Dog Educator, Littlest Hobo

Okay, after visiting numerous dog parks, observing at this point over 90 dogs here’s my list of Stupid Shit that Dog Owners Do. And yes, I’ve been guilty of some stupid dog owner moments, too. However, as responsible dog owners we should all be trying to do less stupid shit.

1)  Owners that let their male dogs pee all over the neighbours’ manicured gardens.

2) Owners that walk their on-leash exuberant dog face-first into a dog who is obviously heeling, downing or sitting without asking  permission. How do you know my dog is not a crazed psychopath who eats Flufflykins for lunch? You don’t.

Funny though, when I had Bouviers, nobody ever dared this, due to their reputation as killer guard dogs. With the Drama Prince looking all “Littlest Hobo” they seem to figure it’s okay.

I’m beginning to understand the Pit Bull Lurve. Nobody is walking their FurBaby face-first into a pit bull without asking.

3) Owners that allow their off-leash dogs outside of a dog park to come flying up to other dogs and people. When you tell them “CALL YOUR DOG” they then blame the person who is following the law by asking, “Is your dog aggressive?” WTF?! I can’t tell you how many dogs I had to threaten to kick away from my old arthritic dog over that nonsense.

At least when I am stupid *I* will apologize because *I* am at fault if it happens. I try not to let it happen but hey, I’m human, I slip up and I didn’t see you coming around the corner before I could call/retrieve the dog. But I’ll try not to be stupid about it. Honest.

3) Dog walkers with half a dozen dogs of which too many, go postal at dog parks. More on the stupidity of allowing multi-dog walkers at dog parks, later. It’s a whole other blog. I’ll link it here when it’s written.

4) Owners and dog walkers who have aggressive or badly behaved dogs hauling them around on leashes inside dog parks.. And you’re there with that dog, exactly, why?

5) Owners who feed my dog treats without permission. Owners that think one treat = half a pound of cookies that give my dog the runs.

6) Owners that don’t grab their dog and haul it off when it’s committing a bullying offence such as snarling, mounting, t-boning, toy guarding and gang-banging other dogs.

Some are on cell phones, notebooks or other gadgets while others sit on a bench and yell “Fido! Stop, Stop, Fido Don’t! Fido Come back!” [like the dog is listening] then shoot me dirty looks when a slow old lady with arthritis tackles their dog by the collar and yanks it off. Call out once, if the dog doesn’t obey get off your ass and remove your dog. Otherwise, learn to use a remote collar but DO SOMETHING.

7) Dog lovers who tell me my dog looks “sad” because he’s laying down doing a “head too” [head on his paws].

8) Dog owners that don’t pick up their dog shit. And yes, LITTLE dog shit is still dog shit.

9) Dog owners that bag their dog shit then leave toss the dog shit bag on the ground or worse, hang the bag on a tree branch because a garbage bin is more than three feet away.

10) Owners that tell their kid to wave their hand in a fist under my dog’s nose is the correct way to introduce themselves to a dog. {For the record, the correct way to meet a new dog is to stand slightly sideways, look/speak with the owner and ask if it’s okay to approach then let the dog sniff you. At this point a proper dog owner will usually “sit” or “down” the dog, then tell the kid when it’s okay to pet the dog.}

11) Owners that screech at their dogs or holler commands. And contrary to popular opinion, it’s not only women that think “louder” = more effective.

12) Owners who say, “Let the dogs sort it out.” Guess what–dogs often don’t “sort it out”. Many can’t sort out NOT to hump or play tackle a dog with dysplasia, or joint problems or who are not feeling well or who might be young, nervous or rambunctious. You know what pack animals who are not well-trained do to weak or unstable {and particularly “outsider”} animals? They KILL them. Watch National Geographic for a change, people.

13) Dog owners who tell me that my dog looks scared on the bus because his ears are back and his eyes are closed. I didn’t know scared dogs fell asleep. Thanks for the revelation, Dr. Dunbar’s Lost Assistant.

14) Owners that tell to use their training method is when I didn’t ask their opinion.  Even when their dog is a complete putz and can’t follow a basic command without being told three times, or is growling or leaping at MY dog.

Especially annoying if their dog is over three years of age and the owner is still walking around with a pocket full of soggy dog treats or clutching a toy like it’s the last life preserver on the Titanic. If the dog cannot behave in public without a whiff of liver snaps or waving a toy in its face past adulthood–it’s either in the first stages of training or someone is doing something wrong– no matter what training method is preferred. There’s a reason treats are not allowed in any trials of dog behaviour whether they’re therapy dogs or in the CKC ring.

Don’t believe me? Research sled dogs, protection dogs, guard dogs, Schutzhunds, guide dogs, sheep dogs, racing dogs, hunting dogs and practically any other working dog on the planet.

Sometimes they are successfully trained with food/toys/clickers but they’ll still perform admirably without them.

I just wanna see Fluffykins manage without bribery or correction before I take a stranger’s advice.

14) Owners using extenda-leashes. Most dangerous dog device evar. [http://news.consumerreports.org/safety/2009/03/retractable-leashes-pose-problems-for-people-and-their-pets.html] Just. Say. No.

*********

  • Dogs Observed: 10
  • Dogs Walking Nicely on Leash: 1
  • Dogs Heeling Off Leash: 0
  • Dogs Recall: 1
  • Good Companion: 0
  • Basic Obedience: 0

Stuck on Stupid Alert–Dogs Do NOT Come Before the Common Good

Today’s big ‘Sob for the Dog Story’  [really, read the comments section–talk about “stuck on stupid”] is: NYPD Shoots Dog While Her Owner Has a Seizure

Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/nypd-shoots-dog-while-her-owner-has-a-seizure.html#ixzz23ouFeKaw

*****

We all don’t want our dogs hurt. It’s a visceral reaction to blame the cops on this one–especially if we don’t like cops.

I love dogs to pieces. I even think that any time we can possibly give dogs a second chance if they have social unacceptable behaviours, they should have the opportunity to be corrected provided it is done so in a way that does not endanger the general public or family where the dog resides.

I feel incredible compassion for this owner who is going to  find out her dog has been shot and may die. I don’t dispute that it’s a traumatic event. However, I have no pity [pardon le pun] reserved for those who say the police did not do the right thing by shooting the dog in this case.

A dog on a public sidewalk lunging and growling is a public menace no matter what the reason is. For all those weeping and moaning that the police were wrong in this case–what if that dog, in a state of hyper-arousal had lunged off and attacked a toddler? Dogs are far faster than humans and can run 35+ mph. It takes less than a second for them to cross 30 feet of ground and attack.

THAT is the problem the police were faced with. They did not have time to mess around hoping for a happy outcome, play dog psychologist, beg Animal Control to show up with a dart or even the time to look in the trunk if they happened to have such an item on hand. They had to contain the area and control the dog.

Nor are they experts in canine behaviour and shouldn’t have to be unless they’re dog handlers.

It is the responsibility of the owner to control the dog 100% of the time even when not physically available. Does that get messed up sometimes? Yes. Especially in the first year of training. That doesn’t mean it’s the fault of anyone other than the dog owner.

Two things jump out at me here.The first is–this is not a service dog.It was not wearing a vest and barking to draw attention to the owner. The second is, sad as it may be, this owner did NOT adequately train this dog in what it should do [even lay down quietly] in case of a seizure. The dog cannot be expected to know what to do if there are strangers hovering over her or touching her because it’s a dog.

Maybe she didn’t get that far in the training, maybe she simply never saw it as something she needed to do. Who knows? I suspect she got this dog so it would protect her or at least look a bit fierce.  It is New York after all and she’s vulnerable.

According to the neighbours it was a friendly dog and more power to her for training it to be friendly. Unless a dog is protection trained to know when and how to do that and when to stop–the likely outcome is exactly what happened. If a dog is not protection trained, no owner should tolerate any protective behaviours from that dog.

This was an unfortunate incident for both dog owner and dog.

But there are no villains in this tale.

******

  • Dogs Observed: 7
  • Walk Nicely on Leash: 1
  • Heel Offleash: 2
  • Recall: 2
  • Good Companion: 1
  • Basic Obedience: 0