The world is full of tempting things for your dog — an ice cream cone clutched in a toddler’s hand, a bowl of cat food on the kitchen floor, a nest of baby rabbits in the garden, an open bag of organic fertilizer on the patio. These are all things your dog would love to eat but shouldn’t because it would be bad manners, or sometimes dangerous. Read more
Some dogs naturally stay close to home, but others try to bolt out the door at the first chance they get. Either way, on the occasion that your dog does leave your yard without you, it can be a time of panic. Your mind may race and wonder what to do next.
There are things you can do to prepare ahead of time for this type of situation, like strengthening your “come” command or having a squeaky toy or treats near the door. A strong “come” command is one of the best foundational dog training commands you need for a variety of reasons, but there is one lesser known command that could actually save your dog’s life. “HOME”.
Why “HOME”? Simply put, if your dog is not in your yard/home, what is one of the most common things someone will say to try to get your dog back home? GO HOME! And that makes perfect sense, but unless you have taught your dog what home is, it’s like speaking a foreign language. Your dog may be able to find his or her way home anyway, but the command (even if from a stranger) could break your dog’s panic and give it clear direction of what to do next.
Just like the other commands your dog knows, our goal is to associate a behavior or object with a word. Our goal here is to help your dog identify the word HOME with the physical building you live in (house, apartment building, etc).
Here’s how to teach the HOME command:
- Every time you approach your home while on a walk with your dog, even if it’s from across the yard or just coming from your neighbor’s house, say “let’s go home”, and excitedly walk towards your home. Say “YES! We’re home!” when you arrive at your house. (tip: you can also say “we’re home!” as you approach in the car to reinforce what being home means and that this is a really good thing).
- After doing this consistently for about a week, start to say “let’s go home” as you approach your home from a bit further away. See if your dog seems to recognize what you mean and join in the excitement you’ve built about going home, while still maintaining manners.
- Once your dog clearly understands what home is, you can make it a fun game and start taking different routes when out on a walk. You can even test them a little bit and say “let’s go HOME” from further away. Can your dog guide you home?!
As with all training, consistency and repetition is the key. If you have any question we’d be happy to answer them for you. Just email Racine@Pet-U.net or visit Pet-U.net for more information on our individual and class training options.
Stuck inside and feeling bored? We’re facing the coldest days of the year here in Wisconsin and it’s hard to want to take your dog outside to exercise. And even if you do get out, after just a few minutes you may find your dog running back to the comfort of his or her warm bed. However, there comes a time when most dogs get sick of just sitting around and start to get cabin fever. Here are a few things you can do to exercise your dog’s mind and body:
- Back in May we published a list of 4 Class Kids Games to Play With Your Dog, including doggy basketball, hide ‘n seek and more. Each of these ideas can be done inside to keep your dog entertained.
- If your dog is well trained around other dogs and people, find a store where dogs are allowed to shop along with you, such as PetSmart, Petco, Pet Supplies Plus or another local store geared towards pets. Just a quick errand like this can do wonders for your dog. The smells, sights and sounds of a store like this is very stimulating to your dog’s senses.
- Teach your dog a new trick. Use positive reinforcement and take baby steps towards your goal. Do not try to get your dog to learn the whole trick at once. Eventually you can link all the pieces together and show off your new trick! Check out all the useful tricks this dog can do!
- If you find yourself short on time to play with your dog, doggy daycare can be a good option. Even once a week during these winter months, doggy daycare can give your dog an outlet of energy and the opportunity to play with other dogs.
- If you are a person who needs structure in order to stick to a plan, signing up for a dog training class can help you carve out time training your dog, and also give you ideas for fun games and training techniques you can do at.
It’s still important to get your dog some fresh air each day, just don’t stay out too long. Here’s an idea one of our clients shared “we shovel out a circular path in the snow so our dog can run around it like a race track!” This or a quick walk to the mailbox can help break up the long day inside for your dog.
When dogs get too little exercise – physical, mental or both – for prolonged periods of time their behavior can suffer. Dogs who don’t usually chew can start to find inappropriate things to chew on, for example, because they are trying to get out some of their energy. We hope these ideas will help put you on the right track to keeping your pup happy and balanced in the coming weeks. If you have any questions, please let us know!
PetU is a family-owned, K9 Higher Education facility that offers dog training, daycare, boarding grooming and a campus store – all with education at the core. We provide a solid foundation of training, socialization and nutrition to help dogs and their owners be the best team they can be.
Don’t have time to practice training your dog? We know what a significant difference consistent practice makes in dog training, so here are a few quick, fun games to play with your dog to help playtime double as “work” time!
These simple games reinforce basic dog training and obedience skills. When you make training fun, your dog will be eager to work with you and awaiting your next direction. Even if your dog isn’t a pro the first time, remember this is all about the practice. Dogs need both mental and physical exercise to stay happy.
1. Doggy basketball (what you need: mini basketball or tennis ball, a box)
If your dog loves tennis balls, this one is for you! Get a tennis ball and an empty box. Hold the tennis ball over the box and say “drop”, then drop the ball in the box. Repeat this a few times while your dog is watching, then pass the ball to your dog. Call your dog over to the box with the ball in its mouth and say “drop!”. This can take a few repetitions. If your dog drops on command but not in the box, reward him or her with excited praise. You can use a treat to attract your dog to hold the ball right over the box, and then say “drop” again. When your dog drops the ball in the box successfully, you can reward with a treat. Repeat a few more times to reinforce that dropping the ball in the box is the goal.
2. Simon Says (what you need: just you and your dog)
Put a twist on a classic game, and play Simon Says with your dog! As long as your dog knows at least a few basic commands like sit, stay, shake and down it should work. First, warm up by having your dog do each of the commands he or she knows one time and treat for completing the set. Then start the game, mixing up the order of commands and treating after a few correct answers in a row. This fun game keeps your dog on its toes and wondering what you will do next – and when he or she will get another treat!
3. Hide and seek (what you need: a favorite toy or a few treats)
Some dogs love to use their noses to search out objects, so this is a great game to engage this instinct. Find a toy or treat your dog loves, and show it to your dog. Have your dog sit and stay. Then, go hide the object (or yourself!) in another room. When your dog finds the object/you, celebrate by happily celebrating the success with praise, petting and/or treats. You can play this game inside or outside. You should start with an easier hiding spot just to show your dog what the game is all about, but then you can make it increasingly harder to find.
4. Red Light, Green Light (what you need: an open space, treats)
Another backyard favorite, and a great way to reinforce your dog’s “stay” and “come” commands. Everyone who is playing should spread out. You stand at the end of the area and when everyone is paying attention you say “come” and “stay” instead of “red light” and “green light”. Treat your dog after every command he or she gets right. If your dog doesn’t get it right, just stay positive and shorten the distance you ask them to go to come to you or the time you ask them to stay until they catch on that good things happen when they follow your directions. It should take about 3-5 rounds of come/stay to get to you. Be sure to reward your dog with treats and praise at the end!
We’d love to hear which games to play with your dog worked for you, or if any totally flopped. Contact us with your story and pictures and your pup could be featured in a future blog!
Training Tip: Too many treats can make your dog sick, so it’s a good idea to spread out a few short training sessions throughout the day.
We love our dog but she is causing major problems for our family and we need help. She is confident and happy much of the time, but when she meets new people she is so scared that she either has an accident or looks like she’s going to attack them.
I’m afraid of how unpredictable she is getting so now we don’t even want to bring her places anymore, which I know won’t help in the long term.
What can we do?
At A Loss
At A Loss,
I understand how stressful it can be, especially if you’re seeing this worsen over time.
Without getting into too much detail here (that’s better for our in person evaluation session), it sounds like your dog has some anxiety that shows up through submissive urination and fear aggression. We can work on both through individual sessions over time in weekly sessions, but we also have a Board & Train option that might be a good fit to shorten the time it takes to see lasting results.
We’d start by having you come in with Susie and tell us more about her current behaviors and your goals. Then we create a unique training plan based on your needs. Next, you pack Susie’s favorite things and she’s off to “Canine College”!
Each Board & Train dog stays with us for about three weeks to work with our training staff every day. You would come for weekly visits to see progress and learn what she is learning, which strengthens you as a training team. We want to set you up for long-term success. On that note, after 3 weeks most dogs are ready to “graduate” and go back home. At that point we do more training with you and your family to help you keep up the results. We offer a 60-day plan, so after Susie is back home and comes to day care she will get complimentary 1:1 training sessions for 60 days to reinforce and maintain all she has learned. Many owners appreciate these reminders about what they should keep working on at home too!
Many people choose this option because they want harmony at home, but aren’t able to train them on their own for whatever reason. We get a lot of “last chance” dogs and while it doesn’t sound like Susie is quite there yet, it makes me optimistic that based on your message we can certainly help.
1. Inconsistency in expectations and follow through
Like people, dogs need to know what is expected of them in order to deliver on your expectations. It takes some patience and repetition to teach your dogs the behaviors you expect. Start with one or two things to work on. For example, if you want your dog to pause at the door so you can wipe his or her muddy paws, make sure you ask them to stop a the door every time so it becomes routine.
2. Not praising at the right time (or at all)
Immediate, positive reinforcement is critical when your dog delivers the behavior you’re looking for. You can communicate with a happy “YES!” or a treat (we recommend a random mix of either or both to keep your pup guessing) so he or she learns what specific behavior earned that praise. TIP: Sometimes the best behavior to reward is a “non behavior”. For example, if your dog is usually wild and you want more quiet time, when your dog does finally lay down on it’s own be sure to calmly praise that behavior to show your approval.
3. Giving up too easily
Change does not happen overnight, but with #1 and #2 in mind it can happen. Many people expect immediate results, and while some dogs do respond quickly to training, other dogs take more patience and repetition. You also could be asking too much of your dog at first. Remember to start small and build on your successes over time. Even training at home 5 minutes a day can make a major difference in your dog’s connection with you, and eagerness to obey! TIP: help motivate your dog by figuring out what excites him or her most…treats? cuddles and pets? a tennis ball? Harness the power of what motivates your dog as you are training to keep it interesting and fun!
To learn more about training as a way of life, see the Pet U Dog Training page.
The PetU crew is excited to announce that on Monday, January 4th, we will be offering several new specialty classes to further strengthen your bond as a training team! Here’s your chance to try out some specialty courses including Tricks, Disc Dog, Agility, Nose Work, Reactive Dog and Therapy Dog Training.
Choose from the following training classes for your dog:
Remember when your uncle showed you his dog’s amazing tricks at your family’s Christmas gatherings? Have you ever wondered how he taught his dog to do that? If so, this is the ideal course for you! This is an entry-level course, which will teach the basic fundamentals of trick training. Take this course, and make your dog the highlight of your next family gathering!
Disc Dog 101:
Fetch, boy! Anyone who has owned a dog has played fetch with either a frisbee or a ball. This course has been designed to take a classic game to the next level…you will learn the correct way to throw a disc, and some new tricks to make this game even more fun and exciting for you and your dog!
Get your dog in top physical shape, while also training his or her brain. You’ll find PetU’s new agility course both demanding, and rewarding.
Nose Work 101:
Build your dog’s focus and awareness with PetU’s K9 Nose Work 101 course – inspired by working detection dogs. This course will work on your dog’s mental and physical awareness. Your dog will be tested using his or her favorite toy, or treat, and learn to use his or her senses to the best of their ability. Using fun and exciting methods, your pup will learn the true ways of the K9.
Reactive Dog 101:
This course will begin to identify, address, and solve any problems that may be occurring on leash. We will determine the root of your dog’s aggression when in a public setting – whether it be anxiety or nervousness – and find proactive solutions, making walking your dog a more enjoyable experience!
Therapy Dog Training:
Therapy Dog Test Prep and maintenance classes help you and your dog prepare for animal-assisted activity commonly known as pet therapy. These classes are designed to give you the necessary tools and skills required to be able to take your dog in to care facilities. Precise obedience performance isn’t required, however you must have control of your dog while visiting, including a reliable sit, down and stay. This course is designed with two phases – an obedience and socialization phase, and an onsite facility training phase.
All of these fun and exciting new courses will be available starting January 4th at PetU Racine. We also continue to offer our Puppy S.T.A.R and Associates courses. Our next class session beginning on January 7th.
Call 262-619-0109 today to register!