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The do’s and don’ts of positive reinforcement

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Positive reinforcement can be a powerful training tool for dogs, but it’s not as simple as just praising everything that your pup does.

If you want to get that most success out of positive reinforcement training, there are a number of important Do’s and Don’ts to follow.

Do…

Immediately praise and reward desired behavior

Keep it short and fun

Wean from treats

Don’t…

Make things complicated

Show inconsistency

Stop correcting your dog

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6 steps to teaching your dog to fetch

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While there are some dogs that just seem to intrinsically understand the game and will automatically chase and retrieve whatever object you use the first time you try, most do not. Either they sit and stare at you, wondering why you would choose to throw away a perfectly good toy, or they chase after the object but don’t “catch” it, or bring it back.

So what can you do to help your pup learn the game like a pro? Here are six tried and true tips.

  1. Start with chasing
  2. Add extra motivation
  3. Retrieving
  4. Avoiding “keep away.”
  5. Getting the object back
  6. Pick something your dog likes

 

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Make Doggy Door Training Easy

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Pet doors are truly wonderful inventions. They give your dog the freedom to come and go as she pleases. And for you, they provide the freedom to go to happy hour without going home to let the dog out first. The best part is that you don’t have to be handy to set them up.

While some dogs immediately understand the ins and outs of maneuvering through a pet door, others need a bit more training and encouragement. Here are some tips on how to train your dog to use the pet door and some techniques.

The First Step Is a Doozy

Some dogs seem to have trouble taking the first step through the door. Some will step partially in or out, but not all the way through.

To help your dog walk through a pet door, position yourself and your dog on opposite sides of the door with you on the inside and your dog on the outside. Then encourage your dog to come in through the pet door with dog treats or targeted commands like, “Come!” Practice this dog training technique several times until your dog walks through the pet door successfully.

If your dog still won’t walk through the door, even after several attempts using their favorite treats, there may be other issues preventing safe passage. The door may make a strange noise that frightens your dog, or the step down from the pet door to the ground may too steep.

Avoid forcing your dog through the door. This can increase the anxiety they associate with the door and cause them to resist using it even more. The keys to success are consistency, patience, praise and a lot of dog treats.

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How to Train Your Dog to Drop It

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“Drop it” is one of the most important dog’s obedience training skills to have in your behavior toolkit. Unfortunately, training your dog to drop things can be difficult, since most dogs only pick up things they want. That means they’d like to keep a hold of whatever it is.

Why You Should Train Your Dog to Drop It

Learning how to train your dog to “drop it” can literally be a lifesaver. After all, a dog knowing how to drop things on cue can be the difference between life and death if your pup picks up something dangerous, like a packet of rat poison, and can help you avoid an expensive trip to the veterinarian.

All you need is your dog, a quiet space and yummy dog treats

Lay the Foundation

Step 1: Choose a boring indoor space that has nothing interesting for your dog to pick up. Make sure your dog is not holding anything and say your “drop it” cue.

Step 2: After saying the drop it cue, immediately toss some dog treats on the ground by your dog’s feet.

Step 3: Watch your dog eat the dog treats.

Step 4: Repeat steps 1-3 about 10 times in a row, and then take a break.

Practice steps 1-4 many times, in multiple sessions, until your dog looks down at her feet as soon as she hears the “drop it” cue. Once she’s very good at this game in a boring place, it’s time to add something for her to drop.

Hand your dog a toy—one she’s blasé about; not a favorite toy—and then give the cue and drop the treats. Next, move on to practicing steps 1-4 again with no toy but in a more exciting place. Then add the boring and eventually the exciting dog toys in that same, more exciting place.

Go the Distance

Gradually, you can start to drop the treats a little farther from your dog’s feet as well, building up to greater distances. This will help when you actually need to take the item.

When you know how to train your dog to “drop it,” the cue may come in handy during a potentially dangerous situation. With enough practice, your dog will become be a pro at dropping items on cue

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How to Train Your Dog to Stay Calm Around His Dog Bowl

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It’s important to train your pup to stay calm around his dog bowl. A dog who guards his dog bowl may growl, snarl, snap at or even bite you, other pets, or family and friends.

Not only is this behavior inappropriate, but it also can be extremely dangerous. So, what can you do to prevent food aggression in dogs?

The first step is to get ahead of the problem. This begins with understanding why food aggression in dogs happens in the first place.

Prevent Problems Around the Dog Bowl

First thing’s first, learn to recognize early signs of discomfort in your dog. Canines use subtle body language to show they are nervous.

A nervous dog might yawn, lick his lips, position himself between you and the dog bowl, eat faster or stiffen up (“freeze”). Each of these subtle signs says, “Please stay away from me right now.”

If you see these signs as you approach your pet at his dog bowl, calmly take a step back. When we ignore a dog’s subtle body language signals, he can feel more threatened and generally will escalate to more obvious “keep away” behaviors, such as growling, baring teeth or snapping.

  • Let your dog eat in peace. In other words, after you serve the dog food, stay away from the dog bowl until your pup has finished eating. If you have multiple pets, feed them in separate rooms or times.
  • Never take dog food out of the dog bowl while your pet is eating.
  • When it’s time to feed your furry friend, start by holding the empty dog bowl in your hands. Ask your dog to sit, and slowly lower the bowl. If your pup stands up, lift up the bowl and ask him to sit again. If he stays seated, put the dog bowl on the floor and encourage your dog to go check it out.
  • As soon as the bowl is empty, ask your dog to sit again. Then walk up to the bowl, drop some food in and cue your dog to take it. Step back and wait again.
  • Repeat this process until you have given your dog all his food. Then walk away. Pick up the empty bowl later, after your dog has left the area.
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Dog Physical Therapy Exercises Your Pet Can Do at Home

Injuries can prevent dogs from maintaining the active and healthy lifestyles they’re used to, but it doesn’t have to be that way. With the right canine physical therapy, your disabled or injured dog can get back to her happy active self again.

Before You Begin Animal Physiotherapy

Work with a Pro:

To make sure your disabled dog rehabilitates safely and appropriately, work with a veterinarian or a licensed physical therapist who has taken canine rehabilitation training.

Pinpoint Problem Areas and Goals:

Your veterinarian or pet physical therapist will help you determine problem areas as well as appropriate and realistic rehabilitation goals.

Dog Physical Therapy Exercises to Help Your Pet Stay Fit

Functional animal physiotherapy exercises work best. It involves the whole body, using dynamic movements that mimic actions that are part of a dog’s normal daily routine.

Here are a few you can try at home.

Sit to Stand:

Start by backing your dog’s hind end into a corner. Use a treat or voice command to ask her to stand, and then slowly return to sitting. Repeat 10 times, twice per day.

Step-ups:

Use a raised platform such as a pallet or hard, non-slippery box or book. Have your dog place one front paw up onto the platform, followed by the other, and then have her move both paws back to the ground. During this exercise, her rear legs stay on the ground. After a few repetitions, have your dog completely climb up on the platform with all four legs, and then back down. Repeat several times.

Dancing:

Hold your dog’s front paws or the upper arms just above her elbows, raising her up into a standing dance position. Sway from side to side, and then progress by step dancing forward, backward and sideways.

Core Exercises:

Using wobble boards or placing your dog atop a small physio ball, encourage your dog to balance. Use your fingers to gently tickle her belly muscles to help your dog engage those muscles.

Controlled Leash Walking

Full-Body Exercises

Beware of allowing your disabled dog’s healthy parts to become overused or further injured during rehab. Rehabilitation is vital to the recovery of your disabled dog or injured dog. With the right animal physical therapy exercises, your dog can return to the active lifestyle she needs to maintain optimal health.

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Dog Bath Hacks

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How to Make Dog Baths More Efficient

Nothing beats playtime with your pooch, but dealing with muddy paws and stinky fur afterward is not always pleasant. With a few tips and tricks, bathing your dog can be easy and efficient.

Tips on How to Bathe a Dog

Much like humans, each dog has his own preference when it comes to bathing. Some pups love getting a bath, which makes the job easier for pet parents—while others shy away from soap and water, making it tricky to keep your fur friend clean.

Start with training: Giving your dog a bath is no different than any other training scenario: your pooch will learn to love new and potentially scary places and things through positive reinforcement and associative learning.

Before you decide to wash your dog your pup should become comfortable with the bathroom environment and with the specific towels, faucets or shampoos you will be using on him.

In order to acquaint your pooch with bath time objects pet parents should perform “targeting” by having the dog touch the item with his nose and then rewarding with a treat immediately after. This will trigger positive association between bath time and bath objects for your pooch.

Prepare the dog bath ahead of time: A good hack to make dog bath time more efficient is to have everything you need right where you need it before you put your dog in the tub. Putting all necessary tools, brushes and dog shampoosin your proximity before you wash your dog will not only reduce the time for giving your dog a bath, but it will also reduce the risk of your dog escaping from the the tub while you try to gather your supplies.

Brush before bathing: It can be tricky knowing how to give a dog a bath without getting dog hair everywhere, but a good trick is to brush your pupthoroughly before wetting him. In addition to getting rid of loose hairs and tangles before they clog your drain, brushing allows you to check your dog’s skin and coat for possible rashes or bumps.

Massage and clean: Every pup loves a good massage, so why not add a relaxing massage for your pup to your bath time routine? It can help to keep your fur friend relaxed and help to create positive associations with dog baths.

Keep clean on the go: Giving your dog a bath on the go can be difficult without the proper equipment. Luckily, there are ways to give your pup a quick cleanup without the need for a shower or a drain.

Safety Tips for Bathing Your Dog: Safety is always key, so when you wash your dog, be extra cautious with how you handle his coat and sensitive areas, like around the eyes and nose. Additionally, avoid spraying water in your dog’s ears, as any trapped moisture can lead to an ear infection.

A dog’s skin can be just as sensitive as our own, so make sure to thoroughly rinse out any soap from your dog’s coat. Leftover shampoo residue can cause skin irritations and itchiness.