Modern trainers use clickers to train their dogs because it aids in the animals understanding of what is rewardable. The animal quickly learns that when it offers the behavior again, it will be rewarded. This positive reinforcement approach will often cause an immediate “wow” moment for both handler and animal. The clicker is a small hand-held gadget that emits a sound when you press it. The sound the clicker makes is a signal to your dog that the behavior it just offered is rewardable. This “click” is always followed by a food reward. Think: Click and Treat! Note, the clicker is NOT for getting attention. Since the click is always paired with a food reward, we call this training positive reinforcement. There is no need to punish the dog for offering the wrong behavior, be patient and quickly mark the right behavior when it is offered. Teaching your dog to sit, using a clicker: Begin with clicker and treats in one hand, and your dog near by. Start by clicking and tossing a treat to your dog, repeat a few times. Next, wait a few seconds to see if your dog will offer a sit. When his bum hits the floor, click and toss him a treat several feet away. Repeat by waiting for your dog to sit again, click and toss a treat. Repeat this several times. If your dog does not know how to sit, put a treat to his nose and raise it up over his head slowly. When his bum hits the ground, click and let him eat the treat. Repeat until your dog begins to offer a sit for the reward. Next, add the verbal cue “Sit” or a hand signal just before the behavior is performed, click for the correct behavior and reward. Repeat with cue added, click the correct behavior and reward. Here is a video demonstration of me teaching my dog Pablo to target my hand and a novel object: Hand Target using a clicker Why Does the Clicker Work? The sound is the same every time; and is unique to other sounds the dog hears. The clicker is the fastest way to accurately mark behavior. (I used it to teach my dog to sneeze, lick his lips and touch the Staples Easy Button). The clicker is the fastest way to capture new behaviors your dog does. It aids in keeping your dog in his thinking brain. Will you always have to use the clicker? No, you can replace the click with a happy, “yes” once your dog understands the behavior thoroughly. It is not a tool that triggers behavior, it just rewards good choices so they are repeated! For more clicker examples visit: ...read more
Good dogs resolve conflict — all by themselves! Below, I outline an incident that occurred at a local park in detail and include what each dog’s body language indicated. There are good lessons here on how dogs resolve conflict and set the rules for the playground! Here are the Players: First we have Mo, a scruffy adolescent female terrier weighing about 20 lbs., who enters other dog’s space quickly and without hesitation. Next we have Nel, a shy adolescent female of about 40 lbs. who approaches other dogs hesitantly when greeting. Our third dog is a small 10 lb adolescent male named, Arlo who would sniff all the dogs and then run away and pee on the nearest tree only to repeat the pattern again. Finally, there is Ann, an adult 55 lb female who enjoys chasing squirrels mostly, and was extremely tolerant of other dogs sniffing her. This is when it gets interesting! Ann, Nel and Arlo had just politely greeted each other moments before when they spotted the gregarious Mo trotting towards them from a distance with head and tail up. From about 30 feet away, Mo began to sprint and squared off and growled nose to nose at Nel. Nel stepped back about 6 inches from Mo when Ann stepped in with a reprimand. Ann chest bumped Mo right on her back. This is when it gets noisy! That is when it got noisy with both dogs growling as Ann stood over Mo and reprimanded her by holding her down with her mouth. I could see Ann’s mouth was open and was fairly sure she was not biting down. I quickly stepped in to separate the two, and Mo ran away. Ann never even look at me, which was much appreciated as some dogs will redirect if they are too aroused. She was not. Ann immediately relaxed, and I do not even remember her shaking off. Next, Nel walked over and licked Ann’s face, possibly in appeasement. This is when Mo should have stayed! Mo’s mom was screaming at the top of her lungs saying what a bad dog Ann was and that Mo just had “poor social skills”. I attempted to tell her to put Mo back down so that Mo could resolve the issue and learn from it. I was certain that Ann was quite calm and had resolved the disagreement quickly. But Mo’s Mom was upset, even though she knew that Mo was not even scratched. She left without understanding that her dog was the one that started the conflict and most likely learned an important lesson. Ann was truly just reprimanding Mo for being rude to Nel. Period. This is my point: If you own a dog that quickly charges into unfamiliar dogs faces and growls or gets even mildly stiff, avoid allowing this to happen. It is a matter of time, before your dog “with poor social skills” gets put in it’s place by an adult dog who is confident enough to do so. You might complain that your dog was “attacked”. However, if there is minimal damage, it means your dog just received a reprimand for being rude. It is often just that simple. The adult dog should not be punished for reprimanding and setting rules on the playground. Mo...read more
Will your dog likely develop Anxiety when home alone? If you suspect your dog is suffering from a form of Separation Anxiety, contact your vet, as many of the symptoms can also be medical in nature. Your vet may include a complete blood cell count, biochemistry, thyroid test, and urinalysis to gather more information on what may be causing some of your dogs behavior changes. So, what are the signs you should look for? Is your dog slightly environmentally insecure or worried in new places? Does your dog hesitate when walking down some streets or new parks? Do her eyes become enlarged as she scans the area often? Maybe her body looks compressed, or she moves slower then normal with stiff leg movement. Maybe she sits and refuses to move forward, yet if you turn around, she quickly moves in the direction of home. Is your dog somewhat sound sensitive? Observed by your dogs startle reflex when a truck rumbles in the distance, you drop something, or you raise your voice. These dogs may run to another room or cower. They may also become tense or lower their body and head, show the whites of their eyes and push their ears way back. Maybe you need to medicate your dog during fireworks. These dogs often go into flight mode and try to hide somewhere safe. They may stay in a state of anxiety for 30 minutes for more. Is your dog shy or worried about strangers? Shown by your dogs hesitation to enter guests space. Maybe your insecure dog shows his anxiety by greeting visitors in an over the top excited, jumpy wiggly or mouthy manner. Moderately fearful dogs may rush the door, barking rapidly. Or maybe your dog has become increasingly territorial of your home or car when people approach or are visible. If you dog is unable to calm quickly after being stressed or aroused, they are showing you that they struggle to rebound from a stressor. If your dog exhibits any of the above character traits then your dog is more likely to develop a form of Separation Anxiety, than a dog who is: Environmentally confident Demonstrates no Sound sensitivity Is Social with all people Can Rebound quickly after being stressed Is Patient by nature Distinguishing between SA and Isolation Stress: Separation Anxiety: Is described as a dog who is unable to cope when their human is away. Not just anyone is able to comfort these dogs as they have bonded with one or two individuals. These dogs often have low environmental confidence, low sociability with new people, and are persistent in nature. Their inability to rebound keeps them in a state of anxiety longer. If the dog is vocal in nature, his anxiety may manifest with barking, if he is high energy, chewing may manifest. They often become extremely excited and aroused when familiar people enter the home and are often labeled velcro dogs. Isolation Stress: Is described as a dog who is fearful of being alone. Their fear of other stimuli is heightened when no one is there to make them feel safe. These dogs often have low environmental confidence, and may exhibit some form of sound sensitivity. These dogs are often persistent in nature...read more
“Why” your dog may not be able to change her behavior like other dogs… Have you attended a dog training class, maybe a Leash Lunger or Reactive Dog Class? You see other dogs in class improving, but your dog continues to scan the environment instead of looking at you. Where I Start… When a client brings me a dog, I begin with identifying who the dog is prior to setting any expectations. Each dog is an individual, and will show you how they will respond if you know what to look for. I will share a recent consultation with you below. Consultation : REACTIVE DOG (short version) Dog: Stella, 2 year old spayed solid black German Shepherd in good health. Lives with her mom and a 4 year old child who she enjoys being with. History: Stella does well in daycare, and never shows aggression to any people or dogs. They describe her as tolerant of the young adolescent dogs and will play with any dog that engages her. Mom says she allowed Stella to greet other dogs on leash when she was a pup to socialize her, she has never acted aggressively with any dog she has met. Owners Complaint: Stella’s Mom complains that she cannot walk Stella on a leash, as she pulls extremely hard to get to any dog she sees in her environment. Even if she puts treats to her nose, Stella will not reorient to her, she physically has to pull Stella away. Observations… When I observed Stella’s behavior it was immediately apparent that she was extremely visually aware of her environment, as she constantly turned her head to anything that moved. She is fairly high energy and trots, not walks, to whatever interests her. When she saw a bird over her head in the tree, she stood still staring at it for several minutes, not moving a muscle. When her mom called to her, she ignored the calling and remained focused on the birds as a second bird joined the first one. Finally, her mom said “Stella, want a treat?”, Stella twitched her ear and then looked at her mom, then returned to watching the birds for a several seconds before responding to her mom for the treat. Once she ate the treat, she trotted back to the tree and visually watched anything that moved. Who is Stella? Stella showed us that she is extremely visually aware of her environment and she is very persistent in this visual behavior when the stimuli is interesting to her. She also showed us that she is not willing to come to us, unless she knows the reward is worth it to her. She has her own interests and is persistent when something interests her. She also loves playing with all the neighborhood dogs. Realization… Would Stella likely be a leash lunger? Yes! Now you see how the combination of her temperament plays a significant role in her (response) behavior. Implementation… What key change could Stella’s mom incorporate in her leash training? Increase the value of the reward to something that Stella finds very rewarding. We determined she liked dried liver extremely well. Effective behavior modification programs work on many dogs but will not work completely if your dog loves dogs, is visually persistent by nature and is not...read more
As a dog trainer, I often work with dogs who have bitten people, yet I am able to hand feed and often begin body handling them without getting bitten myself. Since dog bite prevention is a critical focus of my reward-based dog training, I will share some simple techniques to reduce your chances of being bit by a dog. Learn to read dog body language: If the dog is facing you, look for signs he is calm and relaxed. These would include a loose body (free of tension), open mouth, relaxed ears, soft blinking eyes, relaxed neutral tail and ears. These are communications signs from the dog that he is feeling okay about you near him. This handsome boy is offering me friendly relaxed body language as he stands at an angle showing he is feeling comfortable about my presence. If the dog is facing you with a closed mouth, or a non blinking eye, with body weight forward, or stiff, or eager to get to you in an aroused state. He may be saying stay where you are. This cute fuzzy face is facing me directly with his head and neck raised up, closed mouth, still body, with round eyes that are not blinking. All signs the dog is unsure, and asking me to stay away. Consider the history: Dogs who have been physically grabbed, alpha rolled, held down, and dominated are 100% more likely to feel stress when approached by a stranger. These dogs often panic, are unable to think clearly and overreact to a strangers approach by lunging, growling or snapping as their safety is paramount. Dogs who have not experienced positive associations with humans will be less trusting and may take a while to trust. The dog must set the pace in the relationship. What do I do to avoid being bitten? I stop moving, turn my face away, raise my chin up and slowly turn sideways to the dog, relax my joints as I take a deep breadth. IMPORTANT! I never reach my hand out (BAD IDEA). I Begin by asking the dog to come into my space. If he looks at me then looks away, he is telling me he is worried and I should not approach. If the dog is displaying low body compression, curved back, I will often get low and turn slightly away, offer a toy or treat to the dog, if he moves towards me, then I engage by tossing a toy or treat. I wait and see if the dog stays in my space or immediately retreats. A dog who immediately moves away or maintains a forward stance is not ready to be petted, this is a low level distance cue and should be respected. How can you make Friends with a territorial Dog? Treat and Retreat is a progressive training program I use to build a trusting relationship with stressed or conflicted dogs. This is simply a game to reduce the dogs stress as I am in the dogs presence, this is not about petting the dog. Reducing a dogs fear will reduce territorial aggression, leash lunging, air snapping, and biting. Click the link to view a video of me playing Treat and Retreat with a shy dog. Video: Treat and Retreat with Contact In Summary: A dog who approaches me and...read more
To avoid being bitten, always ask a dog to come into your space before you reach your hand out. This way you will know if the dog is interested in engaging with you. If he looks or turns his head away, or growls, he is telling you no thanks.read more
Territorial dogs need a good pack leader, who will use management and dog training to help their dog be less reactive.read more
The only way to control car aggression 100% is to never take your dog in the car. For many, that is unthinkable as we enjoy having our dogs with us. So if your dog reacts in the car, first, teach your dog to relax in your home and other environments including your car with no distractions. Again, this is hugely helpful for the dog with poor impulse control.read more
Based on their maturity and tolerance, dogs respond to other dogs behaviors in different ways. Let’s be honest, many of you reading this have disagreed with another person, lost your temper, and became angry in response to someones actions. Consider: Una, a beautiful long haired German Shepherd, loves to play with dogs and has shown friendly behaviors to all the dogs she has ever met. Until last week. As she was running on the beach with a Sheltie she just met, and all was well until she saw a tennis ball go flying over head. Already on the run, Una bolted after the ball, but was immediately body slammed by a Retriever mix who was in hot pursuit of his beloved tennis ball. Upon crashing into each other, Una snarled at the Retriever mix as a reprimand for causing her a bit of pain, Una is six years old. He did not respond to her reprimand, yet remained running at her hip, Una beat him to the ball and snatched it up. The Retriever Mix again body slammed Una, aroused from the chase, and feeling another shot of pain in her back, she dropped the ball and reprimanded the Retriever Mix by putting her mouth on his neck and giving him a good hard shake, then let him go. The Retriever snatching up the ball, and returned to his owner as if nothing had happened. Una’s response to this Retriever’s use of body contact when playing was very appropriate in her mind, and she tried to return to playing chase with the Sheltie as she was enjoying this type of play. Response: Unfortunately, her owner saw her as being aggressive, and called Una in a harsh tone. Una went to her owner who is usually trusting and gentle, but not this time, she was stiff and grabbed Una’s collar — nearly lifting her front feet off the ground. Her owner is usually very excited when she comes when called, so Una was quite confused by this aggression. The ride home was scary as her owner verbally scolded Una in a harsh tone. Once home, Una was grabbed firmly by the collar and put into her crate while her owner continued to stomp around the house and gave Una hard-eyed stares. Una has now learned when her owner calls her it makes her feel very unsure and afraid. Humans also respond with different levels of feedback depending on age and life experiences. If the Retriever had lightly rubbed Una’s shoulder as he was heading to the ball or lightly bumped her body when she won the ball, she may have only turned away or growled. Did I mention Una initiates play with a play bow followed by a game of chase. She does not enjoy wrestling. Did Una have time to tell the Retriever Mix how she liked to play? Did he even ask? Is it possibly the Retriever has learned that a hard body slam is therefore more likely to win the ball? Will Una’s feedback prevent him from body slamming another dog? Doubtful, however it depends on his temperament and his sensitivity to a reprimand. My point: If your dog scuffles with another, consider the entire incident. How well do they really know each other? Was their contact made before an invitation was offered? Was one dog trying to steal a...read more
Online positive reinforcement dog training video to be watched anywhere, anytime. You will see real dogs with real problems become relaxed and focused while using all positive training techniques. Perfect for families with a new puppy, rescue dog, reactive dog or those fostering a dog who needs some skills to be adopted.
Judy gives you tools so you can Drop The Leash and still keep your dogs focus on you with many distractions nearby. Normally a 6-week course, Judy condensed the information into one video so you can learn at your own pace, anywhere you want!