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The Use of ‘Bait Bags’ in Dog Training

The arguments against bait bags are not so obvious. The most compelling is that the presence of a bait bag is like a flashing neon sign - an obvious cue to your dog that it's training time and treats are handy. I stand firmly in the middle of the bait bag debate. I shop for lots of lightweight, loose-fitting jackets with large pockets so I can stash my bags of treats comfortably on my person without turning on the neon sign. Of course, my dogs know that I have treats in my pockets, but I always have treats in my pockets, so the presence of treats is not the cue that training is happening.

The Value of the Harness as a Basic Positive Training Tool

The harness is routinely used for certain canine activities such as carting, mushing, tracking, and guiding the disabled. It is also an important accessory for the canine seat belt, since it’s not safe to restrain your dog by his collar in a moving vehicle. Oddly, there isn’t much talk about the value of the harness as a basic positive training tool. With all the justifiable concern about the risk to a dog’s throat from pressure, or worse, jerks on a collar, it would seem that harnesses might find greater favor with positive trainers.

Flyball Racing

Flyball racing is fast and furious. Most of all, it's a great time for both dogs and people! The first time I saw Flyball

Canine Agility Training: The Ultimate Team Sport

By now, if you're into dogs, you've probably heard about agility. Maybe you've even seen it in action or tried it with your dog. Agility is one of the fastest growing dog sports in the world, and with good reason – it's fun! Of all of the dog things I've done

Understanding Reward Based Dog Training

In the 1950s, behavioral scientist B.F. Skinner developed a number of principles that are applicable to all living things with a central nervous system. He found that animals are likely to repeat behaviors that are enjoyable/rewarding to them, and not likely to repeat behaviors that result in something unpleasant (punishment). Neutral stimuli – things that don’t matter to the animal – don’t have an impact on behavior one way or the other. Skinner demonstrated that humans can use these simple principles to modify an animal’s behavior. Rewards are the most reliable way to deliberately increase an animal’s offered behaviors; conversely, punishment decreases those behaviors. (See “The Four Principles of Operant Conditioning,” next at end of story). We use these behavioral principles in dog training with great success.
off leash training

Off Leash Training: Building Reliability

There is no way to guarantee the safety of your dog off leash. I would like to think that if we trained hard enough, or long enough, or with the right methods, that we could overcome all of the risks, that our dogs really could be completely reliable and safe. But the fact is that when dogs are off leash in an unsecured area, there will always be a chance that their instincts or desires will lead them into the path of danger. In addition, our environment is often unpredictable. When dogs are off leash, there is the chance of a sudden bang, an unexpected animal, or something else that may frighten or harm our dogs.

Training Your Dog to Behave Around Guests

Whether you have a pup with normal puppy energy or an obstreperous teenager who has good manners lessons to catch up on, clicker training can be a magically effective and gentle way to convince a dog to calm down. No yelling, no physical punishment; just clicks and treats for any pause in the action. That said, the biggest challenge with a hyper" dog is that any praise or reward may cause her to begin bouncing off the walls again. It is nearly impossible to deliver a treat to an excitable dog while she is still in the act of being calm. By the time you get the treat to her mouth she is once again doing her Tasmanian devil act."

Post-Exercise Accupressure for Active Dogs

If your dog shows signs of acute pain or distress, we encourage you to take him to your holistic veterinarian. Acupressure is an excellent resource and complement to your dog’s health care since you can perform treatments yourself, but it is not a substitute for veterinary care. Your dog will enjoy playing, running, jumping, weaving through poles – whatever your sport – much more if you help take good care of his body. Acupressure is safe, always available, drug-free, and dogs love the touch of their special people.

Force-Based Training Methods and Some Unintended Consequences

Most people, unwittingly or intentionally, use a lot of physical force when raising and training their dogs. The purposeful ones have a whole variety of reasons. Some may have read about behavioral theories regarding dominance and “the importance of showing the dog who’s boss.” Fans of these theories may advocate imitations of canine behavior such as “scruff shakes” or “Alpha rolls” to convince the dog he’s at the bottom of the family hierarchy. Others may have been influenced by advocates of traditional, military-style training – think of yanking collar ‘corrections’ or using the leash leveraged under their foot to forcibly pull a dog into a Down.

Teaching Your Dog “Off”

When they fill out their evaluation forms at the end of a six-week course, my clients frequently name the Off" exercise as one of the most useful behaviors they have taught their dogs in class. "Off" means "Whatever you are paying attention to right now

Getting Your Children Involved in Training the Family Dog

One of the things that parents almost always say when they decide to add a dog to the family is, It will help teach the kids about responsibility." That's the hope

Teaching Your Dog to Eliminate on Command

and will be forced to soil the crate. Once a puppy's inborn instinct to keep his "den" clean is broken

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