Blog Archives

Puppies 4- 6 weeks.

Week 4 to 8 is when change is occurring rapidly for baby puppies.

This blog will deal with the changes in week 4 – 6. In the last blog (click here) I was talking about the puppies being still very much in the xpen. From 5 weeks of age they start to find out ab0ut the big wild world outside of the pen. This has to be done with caution of course as they are susceptible to many diseases and accidents at this age. They have fairly good immunity from disease still from mum but it is not good for them to be in environments where the disease or vaccination status of other animals is not know. As they are tiny they also must be carefully supervised around even the best tempered adult dog. Baby dogs like human babies have no comprehension that a growl is in fact a signal to back off. They just keep coming and can be far to “in the faces” of adult dogs.

Week 4 to 6 milestones are:

  • Now going out and about. They would have been outside more but the weather was too wet and the ground too muddy. However they went into a specially constructed pen in the training center for a few days a week initially then for 5 days in week 6
  • They got to meet new people
  • They carefully started interaction with selected adult dogs.
  • Recall training is started (off lead using pup, pup, pup whenever I wanted them to come to me).
  • Toilet training is started. They are praised for all wees and poos outside. When getting out of the car they are released from their car carrier and placed on the ground where the natural instinct is that most puppies wee. They are told what clever dogs they are and if possible given a treat
  • Car training starts – in a secure car crate
  • Mum helps with all of this training and starts to wean them off her milk
  • Different food sources are introduced
  • Puppies start to explore their environment.
  • Relationship with humans deepens greatly mostly via the provision of food and fun
  • They play more and more with each other and bite inhibition is learnt.
  • A good day/night regimen is formed.
  • Separation anxiety is guarded against by letting them spend time alone away from humans.
  • The start of grooming and handling training by touching feet, noses, ears, mouth etc.
  • They learn that humans are associated with rewards that are delivered for when a behaviour happens that is acceptable. At this age there is only use of +R  and a very light amount of -P (in that if they are whining they don’t get attention) However the owner should be ensuring that no whining occurs as all needs should be predicted before that point.

 

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Louise Kerr
The Pet Care Magician

Louise Kerr (aka The Pet Care Magician) runs the Pet Care Magic club where devil dogs, horrible horses and crazy cats are turned into perfect pets using Relationship Animal Training. The program provides owners and pet professionals assistance with with common pet behavior  training, feeding and grooming issues such as barking, escaping, scratching, aggression and fleas  She consults and writes widely on a range of pet care issues for owners and also assists pet care professionals in setting up and growing their businesses by the provision of customer handling advice, sales and marketing strategies and up to date product information that allows for the differentiation of their pet care business from their competitors. The Pet Care Magic Club is part of Elite Pet Care & Education based in the Nambucca Valley NSW Australia but can be found on internet enabled devices worldwide.

www.elitepetcare.com.au   |    Like us on Facebook

Facebook groups: Talk to me about Positive Reward Based Dog Training  | Dogs, Horses, Cats, Pocket Pets +Animal Businesses (Mid Nth Coast NSW) 

Relationship Animal Training TM: Facebook page | Facebook discussion group

About Me 

Miniature Poodle puppies 6-8 weeks

These weeks build on the solid foundation of the previous 6 weeks. If all has been done well then by now puppies are confident, eating well, sleeping through the night, not barking, not whining and interested in exploring new environments, people and animals that come their way. They are not showing signs of being unwilling to go somewhere new and are happy. healthy bouncy puppies.

The highlights of this phrase include:

  • Now actually interacting with adult dogs and learning how to use cut off signals to indicate they are no threat and learning that they can not rush headlong into the face of an adult dog.
  • Learning from their litter mates how to use their teeth in play.
  • Increasing variety of food being introduced
  • More and more outings to puppy safe venues
  • Increased independence from mum and the other puppies
  • Grooming training  starts (this is very important for poodle puppies)
  • Reinforcement of a good day/night routine
  • Being separated from humans and other dogs for part of the time so that separation anxiety is not going to become an issue.
  • Recall training, start of lead training, start of loose lead walking training (being asked to follow a human around without a lead)
  • Introduction of enrichment toys such as food dispensing toys.
  • Spending time as single pups away from other dogs so they can handle being an only dog.
  • Exploring the outside world and finding out about wind, rain, horses, cattle, leaves, trees and that fences mean containment.
  • Learning how not to be afraid during a thunderstorm
  • Learning how not to be afraid when they hear loud sounds like radios, gun shots, trains, cars, trucks, babies crying etc.

Just a quick comment on vaccination. I follow the most up to date schedule for vaccination from Dr Jean Dodds, a world expert on vaccination, and do not give the first vaccination (C3) until puppies are 8 weeks of age. I then only give one more after 16 weeks of life and then no further vaccination for the rest of the life of the dog. I also do not microchip until as close to over 8 weeks as possible as I feel it is fairly traumatic for baby puppies. It is required as a condition of sale in my state. The puppies are wormed at 3 and 6 weeks and then again as they are about to go to their new homes.

Regards
Louise Kerr
The Pet Care Magician

Louise Kerr (aka The Pet Care Magician) runs the Pet Care Magic club where devil dogs, horrible horses and crazy cats are turned into perfect pets using Relationship Animal Training. The program provides owners and pet professionals assistance with with common pet behavior  training, feeding and grooming issues such as barking, escaping, scratching, aggression and fleas  She consults and writes widely on a range of pet care issues for owners and also assists pet care professionals in setting up and growing their businesses by the provision of customer handling advice, sales and marketing strategies and up to date product information that allows for the differentiation of their pet care business from their competitors. The Pet Care Magic Club is part of Elite Pet Care & Education based in the Nambucca Valley NSW Australia but can be found on internet enabled devices worldwide.

www.elitepetcare.com.au   |    Like us on Facebook

Facebook groups: Talk to me about Positive Reward Based Dog Training  | Dogs, Horses, Cats, Pocket Pets +Animal Businesses (Mid Nth Coast NSW) 

Relationship Animal Training TM: Facebook page | Facebook discussion group

About Me 

Training puppies for grooming

Establishing a good relationship with a puppy or dog is not just about teaching them to sit, stay or come when called. Grooming is a vital part of their basic training and in my opinion training adult and puppy dogs to accept the grooming process is very much over looked by groomers, trainers and pet parents. The grooming process is not natural for dogs, especially when very aversive equipment like clippers and high velocity dryers are used in the process. Dogs need to be taught to accept the equipment and the handling that inherent in the grooming process.

Puppies such as poodles, have a coat that requires high maintenance and it is important that a relationship with their owners and/or professionals is established based around grooming  as early as possible. This relationship must be one based on trust that they will not be frightened by the equipment required and that the person undertaking the grooming has an ability to observe and interpret canine body language.  If you are not proficient in understanding what a dog looks like when it is scared and how to stop that from happening then you should not be grooming any dog, let alone a vulnerable baby puppy.

Video One shows how to develop a caring and as stress free grooming relationship as possible for a puppy. This miniature poodle puppy is 7 weeks old and step one is to get it used to being up on  a high table and to accept the attention from brushes, combs and being touched in an way that is not natural for a dog. An important point is this is not done after washing a dog. It is undertaken at a totally different time when the pup is totally relaxed. Stacking the activities of a scary wash and then up on  a high table will increase the stress for the pup and set him or her up for failure before you even start.


(the noise in the background of this video is rain on the tin roof)

The second very important point is that restraint SHOULD NOT BE USED during these initial grooming training sessions. My reasoning is that dogs that get frightened of something need to be able to move away from it. Adding any sort to restraint in grooming training will automatically make it an aversive process  so that the pup is unable to learn as it is stuck in fear mode. Learning to handle restraint should be done separately once the puppy is comfortable on the table. The puppy should never be left on the table and all equipment should be placed in advance so that the handler can keep one hand on the pup at all times. This can be done at home by owners using a table with a non slip bath mat. Not only does it train for grooming but it also gives valuable one on one time that enables relationship building. 

The next step in the grooming process is teaching a dog or puppy not to be frightened of a dryer. The high velocity dryer is THE most abusive item of grooming equipment in a dog grooming salon. Most dogs are terrified of it and have every right to be so. It is a piece of equipment designed for groomers who want to do the maximum number of dogs in the shortest period of time. It is one of the big reasons I can no longer subject dogs to the practice of professional grooming. It is vital that any dog that will be attending a professional groomer is trained to accept this practice.  How long it takes for a dog to become ok with this process depends on the skill of the groomer in reading canine body language and the overall socialization and fearfulness of the dog or puppy. This training should NEVER be done when the dog is being presented for its first groom.

The important points to note are:

  • No restraint
  • Diffuser off the dryer
  • Dryer on lowest possible setting
  • Start with counter conditioning to just the noise (i.e. dyer on ground and not pointed at the dog)
  • Dryer aimed at the dog for very short bursts of seconds only and never at the head
  • Watch the dog and stop immediately you see escalation of minor stress signs such as lip licking, freezing,  ears back and yawning.
  • The whole process is performed often for very short periods not rarely for long periods. (This is why is cannot be started in the context of a grooming session)

The next video is with a different puppy and shows some of the signs to look for in a pup that is not ok with the process.

  • Pup stopped eating so counter-conditioning was not being effective as pup was too scared by the process. Dryer needed to be further away.
  • Body Language becomes stiffer, more lip licking, not able to head turn and became stuck in one place on the table.
  • Reward used was not high enough and scary object was too close.
  • Pup startles at 1.30 minutes indicating it went into fear mode.

This is just a quick overview of training puppies for grooming using positive force free methods. It is part of a larger body of work I am putting together. If you need assistance on an particular grooming issues please contact us via the comments section or email.

Regards

Louise Kerr
The Pet Care Magician

Louise Kerr (aka The Pet Care Magician) runs the Pet Care Magic club where devil dogs, horrible horses and crazy cats are turned into perfect pets using Relationship Animal Training. The program provides owners and pet professionals assistance with with common pet behavior  training, feeding and grooming issues such as barking, escaping, scratching, aggression and fleas  She consults and writes widely on a range of pet care issues for owners and also assists pet care professionals in setting up and growing their businesses by the provision of customer handling advice, sales and marketing strategies and up to date product information that allows for the differentiation of their pet care business from their competitors. The Pet Care Magic Club is part of Elite Pet Care & Education based in the Nambucca Valley NSW Australia but can be found on internet enabled devices worldwide.

www.elitepetcare.com.au   |    Like us on Facebook

Facebook groups: Talk to me about Positive Reward Based Dog Training  | Dogs, Horses, Cats, Pocket Pets +Animal Businesses (Mid Nth Coast NSW) 

Relationship Animal Training TM: Facebook page | Facebook discussion group

About Me 

Miniature Poodle Puppies 4.5 weeks.

Two weeks since my last post and these two weeks has been seen a large amount of development in the puppies. By 4 weeks they are all up and about and social skills are starting to develop. They are still feeding off mum but I have now implemented supplementary feeding. Not that they eat much, mostly they walk through it, play with and generally just explore it. Today while videoing I did see one of them pick up a piece of dry food in it’s mouth and eat it. What mostly happens is that mum goes in there as the food is taken in and she is gradually teaching them to eat rather than drink. However she did take her piece of chicken in there this afternoon and there was a great deal of interest in it with a couple of the puppies having a taste of it. Mum however will be still allowed to let them drink for as long as she decides is appropriate.

They are now starting to look outside their xpen as I have removed some of the covers so they can start to interact with the other adult dogs and with me as I move around the area.  Mum is now spending less and less time with them and mostly only going in for feeding and if they make a strange sound (which has not happened so far at all). However what this means is that all the clean up is now my duty not hers and this is often the point at which families who have bred a litter for some fun find out the fun is pretty much over and the constant cleaning starts.

They have started to interact with each other in play. This is an essential time for puppies to learn bite inhibition. Bite inhibition is taught by the other pups who provide the feedback when a bite is too hard. A puppy will not continue to play with another pup if bites hurt. At this point I keep a careful watch for any puppy that might be showing bullying tendencies. This is fairly unusual for miniature poodles but does happen from time to time in bigger breeds. The way to deal with that is to quietly distract the bully from the game and institute a short time out session. It is normally is just an indication that a pup is a bit too wound up or a pup is slightly more ahead in development than its litter mates.

About two weeks ago, once mum started to spend less time with them, I added some soft cuddle toys to the pen. Initially this was to give them something soft to cuddle up to but as they are now playing these also become play toys. The benefit of this is that often individual pups will be found sleeping alone not cuddled to one of the others and also once it comes time for them to move off into their new homes they will associate a cuddle toy with positive safe feelings from where they first grew up.

I have also started to introduce novel safe items to them. Yesterday it was some peelings from the potatoes and carrots I was cooking. Not for any food value, although some were eaten, but to give them a chance to explore new tastes and textures and weird things appearing in their environment. Today it was the empty cottage cheese container with a few morsels of cottage cheese still in it. This provides the game of how many puppy heads can fit in here at once that you can see part of on the video.

They have settled into an excellent day and night rhythm now. Once it is dark they all settle for bed and not a sound is heard from them until we get up the next morning.

Regards

Louise Kerr
The Pet Care Magician

Louise Kerr (aka The Pet Care Magician) runs the Pet Care Magic club where devil dogs, horrible horses and crazy cats are turned into perfect pets using Relationship Animal Training. The program provides owners and pet professionals assistance with with common pet behavior  training, feeding and grooming issues such as barking, escaping, scratching, aggression and fleas  She consults and writes widely on a range of pet care issues for owners and also assists pet care professionals in setting up and growing their businesses by the provision of customer handling advice, sales and marketing strategies and up to date product information that allows for the differentiation of their pet care business from their competitors. The Pet Care Magic Club is part of Elite Pet Care & Education based in the Nambucca Valley NSW Australia but can be found on internet enabled devices worldwide.

www.elitepetcare.com.au   |    Like us on Facebook

Facebook groups: Talk to me about Positive Reward Based Dog Training  | Dogs, Horses, Cats, Pocket Pets +Animal Businesses (Mid Nth Coast NSW) 

Relationship Animal Training TM: Facebook page | Facebook discussion group

About Me 

The Value of Relationships in Training.

I was involved in an interesting discussion today on a Facebook group I belong to which is called  Building Strong Relationships with Animal Companions. We were discussing the impact of training on these relationships. It got me to thinking about the role of training in my relationships with animals. I am an animal trainer and have been professionally and non professionally for over 40 years. I have always been considered as having a gift for training animals but I will let you in on a secret.

I actually don’t do a great deal of training with most of the animals I live with!

Sure I teach them the basics; sit, drop, stay, come but outside of that unless I want a particular behaviour for a video or a demonstration I don’t do any formal training sessions. Yep you heard that right – no formal training sessions. But I can hear most of you saying “Your dogs are so well trained, they listen to your every word”. Yes you are right they know exactly what I am thinking and most of the time I know pretty well what they are thinking.

Years ago I used to attend classes at one of Sydney’s best know dog obedience schools called Manly and District Kennel and Dog Training Club and I trained under the late and very well know NSW top obedience trainer, Garry Sommerville, who held that title for years. We drilled the dogs for an hour, round and round and in straight lines up and back and I went home and religiously drilled the dog/s for 30 minutes each night. Sit, stay, drop, down, come, fetch, pick up dumbell the whole full obedience routine and I, sort of, had reasonably trained dogs but boy was it hard work. All those years ago I was of course using jerking on check chains and physically placing my dogs into position. I confess I did a few alpha rolls as well.  (This was back in the late 80’s). I loved my dogs that goes without saying but mytraining interactions with them were not loving ones.

Fast forward to the year 2009 when after spending years as a balanced trainer moving closer and closer towards modern reward based methods I decided to train as a Delta instructor where the method uused was totally positive reward based force free training. BUT what I also learnt about was how dogs learn, how they think, how to read their body language. What that did, along with the use of reward based training was taught me how to understand and establish a relationship with the animal I was working with, which is over and above just training it. By removing all the forceful elements I had to work out how to get the dog to interact with me willingly and that takes relationship building.

For my own animals at home I interact with them all day and night most days. I talk to them, think about them, listen to them and yes they listen to me, talk to me and in so doing we have all developed a relationship. I don’t just ignore them until it is time t0 put a lead on and have a “training session”.  When I require something I ask them to do it e.g go out to and get in the car, go through a doorway, wait before coming inside, going out to toilet. I talk to them endlessly always stating in a non confrontational manner what it is I require. I talk with my hands a great deal as well, so I expect I also inadvertently give a great number of non verbal body language cues to match my verbal cues.

I am training them, every minute of time that I am interacting with them we are training but more importantly I am building a very strong relationship with them as well. They know and understand what I require and I know and understand what their needs are. The fact that it is a two way communication is what makes it a relationship not just training. Because it is two way is why it is so effective as training. Much more effective than the older methods I used to employ.

So do you need training?  Yes you do

Do you need a good relationship? Yes you do

Can you have a good relationship while using training that is not based on positive force free methods? No you can’t

With both you have a match made in heaven without a good relationship the training will be very hard work but with it the training will be effortless and I love effortless training.

 

Regards

Louise Kerr
The Pet Care Magician

Louise Kerr (aka The Pet Care Magician) runs the Pet Care Magic club where devil dogs, horrible horses and crazy cats are turned into perfect pets using Relationship Animal Training. The program provides owners and pet professionals assistance with with common pet behavior  training, feeding and grooming issues such as barking, escaping, scratching, aggression and fleas  She consults and writes widely on a range of pet care issues for owners and also assists pet care professionals in setting up and growing their businesses by the provision of customer handling advice, sales and marketing strategies and up to date product information that allows for the differentiation of their pet care business from their competitors. The Pet Care Magic Club is part of Elite Pet Care & Education based in the Nambucca Valley NSW Australia but can be found on internet enabled devices worldwide.

www.elitepetcare.com.au   |    Like us on Facebook

Facebook groups: Talk to me about Positive Reward Based Dog Training  | Dogs, Horses, Cats, Pocket Pets +Animal Businesses (Mid Nth Coast NSW) 

Relationship Animal Training TM: Facebook page | Facebook discussion group

About Me 

Puppies Day 4

Relationship Animal Training starts from the first day a puppy is born and it is now day 4 for Cherry’s miniature poodle litter. Sadly one pup (brown boy) did not make it past day 1 so there are now 4 puppies. In those circumstances I believe it is best to let the mother decide if the pup should or should not survive. Nature knows a lot more than I do about survival of the fittest and Cherry gave clear indications that she did not want to feed this pup as she repeatedly pushed it away.

At day 4 Cherry has already trained the pups to accept some very short periods where she is not with them. Never far away she has a strong sense of what the individual noises mean. There is a certain noise that means “mum come here now we need you” verses “mum we are babies who just need to make a noise to get us off to sleep”

The little black boy is slightly behind his three sisters when it comes to development, however that is normal for boys. He still whimpers slightly when mum is away but is getting faster at settling down against his sleeping sisters as there is safety in numbers. I have also included one of Cherry’s favourite toys in the whelping box so that her smell remains when she is taking toilet breaks. At this stage she is still spending all but a few minutes of her day with them. As soon as I was awake this morning I opened my eyes to find her standing next to my bed, saying hello,, however she quickly returned to the pups.

There are implications here for later puppy training. The first is that of prevention of separation anxiety which is a reasonably common and serious behavioural issue in dogs. At this early age the puppies are very dependent on their mother for their emotional security and safety. As they are still blind and deaf they rely on her scent and body warmth to feel secure. They are not yet secure in just the presence of their litter mates for more than a few minutes. Cherry is aware of this but has already started the slow process of teaching them that she is not required 24/7. The very interesting observation however is that she is doing this using finely honed skills of positive reward, negative punishment and wonderful innate canine judgement. She returns to them only when they are quiet and ignores them when they are lightly grumbling and about to drift off to sleep on their own. Of course she manages the situation by going immediately to them when she knows they need her for other reasons.

The second implication is for teaching no barking. Rewarding a dog for barking by constantly talking to it or otherwise paying attention to the barking is counterproductive to achieving a quiet dog. Cherry is teaching the puppies how to appropriately ask for her attention. 

I am resisting the urge to cuddle and interfere.

Regards

Louise Kerr
The Pet Care Magician

www.elitepetcare.com.au   |    Like us on Facebook

Facebook groups: Talk to me about Positive Reward Based Dog Training  | Dogs, Horses, Cats, Pocket Pets +Animal Businesses (Mid Nth Coast NSW) 

Relationship Animal Training TM: Facebook page | Facebook discussion group

Louise Kerr (aka The Pet Care Magician) runs the Pet Care Magic club where devil dogs, horrible horses and crazy cats are turned into perfect pets. The program provides owners and pet professionals assistance with with common pet behavior  training, feeding and grooming issues such as barking, escaping, scratching, aggression and fleas  She consults and writes widely on a range of pet care issues for owners and also assists pet care professionals in setting up and growing their businesses by the provision of customer handling advice, sales and marketing strategies and up to date product information that allows for the differentiation of their pet care business from their competitors. The Pet Care Magic Club is part of Elite Pet Care & Education based in the Nambucca Valley NSW Australia but can be found on internet enabled devices worldwide.

About Me 

How do animals learn using Positive Reward Force Free training?

Animals are learning all the time, right from the moment they are born for every minute of every day. Right now your animals are learning irrespective of where they are and who is with them. They may be learning behaviours we like or behaviours we don’t like.

They  learn via two main methods:

1) Classical-Conditioning (CC) – where the environment is acting on the animal to cause behaviour to occur.

Horse example: open the feed shed door and the horses come running. CC has taught them that the noise of the door predicts food is coming.   Show the worming paste tube and horses run or clench their jaws – tube has come to predict a not nice taste and an argument with the handler.

Dog example: go to the cupboard where the treats are kept and you will get a dog that wants a treat.

2) Operant Conditioning (OC) – conditioning in which an operant response is brought under stimulus control by virtue of presenting reinforcement contingent upon the occurrence of the operant response. Conditioning – a learning process in which an organism’s behaviour becomes dependent on the occurrence of a stimulus in its environment (official dictionary definition) 

Let’s put that in English:  Unlike CC where the environment acts on the animal, OC is what we traditionally think of as training. It is when a verbal or non verbal cue, or tool is used to ensure a predictable (85% of the time) response to provide a learned cue.

Horse example: Horse moves from one pace to another on verbal cue, In +ve training – horse opens mouth when worming syringe appears, horse is taught to move backwards on cue without being touched or forced with pressure release, horse moves left when touched in a specific spot and/or a cue word is used.  Note: the words are mostly for our benefit as most animals use non verbal body language cues.

Dog example: you say sit and the dog sits. You touch the dog’s lead and they go crazy jumping all over the place.

How do we achieve OC?

All good and bad behaviour is achieved by the use of the 4 quadrants of operant conditioning.

These are positive (+ve) and negative (–ve)  reinforcement (R) and positive (+ve) and  negative (–ve) punishment (P) with the four words all having very specific meanings in terms of learning theory.

  • +ve means to add
  • -ve means to remove
  • Reinforcement means to ensure behaviour occurs again not necessarily to reward
  • Punishment means to ensure behaviour decreases not necessarily to punish – but for most of the time it is punishing; it depends on what you are doing and how you are doing it. Punishment being in the eye of the animal not the trainer.

4 quadrants table

4 quadrants of Operant Conditioning. Click on image to enlarge 

Take Home Message:

Don’t get caught up in the terminology and differences in methods.

Set your animal up for success and don’t get caught up in the terminology.  Do no harm and try wherever possible to work on the animal providing the behaviour you want rather than being coerced into it.  I.e. stand on your head and turn your brain inside out as we have been conditioned to using +P and – R and not +R and -P.  If you find you are always using -P then you are doing something wrong and need to go back and look at what you are asking the animal to do.

At first it is hard then soon it becomes the only way you think. The fun comes back into the relationship as you are not in a WIN/ LOOSE relationship but in a WIN/WIN that both parties want to continue. You are having fun and so is your animal. I call it laughter therapy for trainers and handlers.

What is positive reward (FF) training and how does it differ?

  • It is not just a training method it is a method that allows a deeper more meaningful relationship with any animal, even strange animals you have never met before. This is because it works with the animal where they offer behaviour because they want to not because they are forced to. It is mostly trained with the animal not restrained in any way.  In horses I start with them totally at liberty in a large paddock. With dogs start off lead in a secure large area.
  • Aims to stay as much as possible in the quadrants of +R however that is not always possible and occasionally –P is used. In fact many things we do even outside of training are –P. We have no choice at times but to tie up a horse or dog, make them take wormers, have dental work done etc. Using positive reward means that we become aware of the impact we are having on them and get used to the fact that we allow for them to want to retreat at times.
  • It integrates +R and –P so that least impact occurs for the desired outcome.
  • The basics can be altered to address many training situations, especially for horses where it can also be used during riding.
  • Using positive training we can not only train an animal for tricks but also train them in basic husbandry methods such as:

Worming, fitting equipment, lifting feet, moving in any direction, loading onto a trailer or into a crate, standing still for mounting, changing gait, having a saddle placed on an unbroken horse, coming when called,  improving flexing of neck and all limbs, ear cleaning, nail trimming and medication. In fact once the basic skills of targeting and learning a marker work are mastered there is not one thing that positive reward cannot be used for.

  • Once practiced regularly it improves the overall relationship between human and the animal horse and the animal keeps asking for opportunities to interact. NO more forcing behaviours that we require to happen such as trying to catch them.

For a demonstration on using positive reward force free training with horses please click here.

To see examples of this method in use with dogs please view our YouTube channel. Clicke here

Regards

Louise Kerr
The Pet Care Magician

www.elitepetcare.com.au   |    Like us on Facebook

Facebook groups: Talk to me about Positive Reward Based Dog Training

Australian Pet Professionals | Dogs, Horses, Cats, Pocket Pets +Animal Businesses (Mid Nth Coast NSW) 

Louise Kerr (aka The Pet Care Magician) runs the Pet Care Magic club where devil dogs, horrible horses and crazy cats are turned into perfect pets. The program provides owners and pet professionals assistance with with common pet behavior  training, feeding and grooming issues such as barking, escaping, scratching, aggression and fleas  She consults and writes widely on a range of pet care issues for owners and also assists pet care professionals in setting up and growing their businesses by the provision of customer handling advice, sales and marketing strategies and up to date product information that allows for the differentiation of their pet care business from their competitors. The Pet Care Magic Club is part of Elite Pet Care & Education based in the Nambucca Valley NSW Australia but can be found on internet enabled devices worldwide.

About Me 

What to do about jumping dogs!

Dogs jumping up on owners, their families or their guests is one of the most common issues that clients present to dog trainers to have fixed.

Traditionally balanced trainers have always recommended that you push the dog away, growl at it, use something it hates to make it understand that it is a undesirable behaviour. In so doing that will make the dog stop doing it. To some degree this works but positive reward based trainers know there is a much kinder solution that works just as effectively, just as fast and is kinder to your dog.

Here is the sort of advice that you commonly hear from balanced trainers who subscribe to the idea that to fix behaviour you need to punish your dog:

“Method 1 (slowest) – totally ignoring the dog and assertively standing your ground and pushing the dog away with your knee (NOT kicking), and offering no eye contact, no talk and no touch. If we are persistent and consistent with this method, eventually the dog will learn that this attention seeking behaviour receives absolutely no interaction from us. If there is no payoff for a behaviour, then the behaviour eventually dies. 

Method 2 (Quickest and most effective) – Give a firm correction/aversive at a level the dog finds unpleasant. If you need to administer the correction more than 3 times, then you are not being firm enough. Many will say, but won’t my dog be afraid to come near me? I can guarantee, the first time your dog goes to jump up and you administer the correction, your dog will do one of 2 things, submit to the correction and calm down, hence you can then calmly praise your dog. Or yes your dog will back right off and avoid, as it is confused. If this happens crouch down and encourage your dog over, and if your dog is calm when entering your space, then reward with calm pets and energy. Your dog will very quickly learn to avoid the overly exuberant behaviour when you come home or you go outside to be with your dog. It’s about teaching your dog to respect your space.”

Here is what Method 1 looks like but using hands to push away not feet.

The important points to note are that it is not working, the dog’s jumping is getting more and more agitated and stressed (shake off, lip licks) the dogs in the background are picking up on his stress and the dog is moving further and further away from the trainer and  being less interested in approaching. When it does approach it is tentative. At this point under the instructions above you would be told to find a way to punish the dog more to stop the behaviour. I treat dogs with kindness and respect and do not believe in punishment so I will never subject any dog to that.

Let’s look at the positive alternative used on this same dog.

He spends the first 15 seconds moving around in a much less agitated way than in the previous video then automatically sits with no cue from the trainer. The trainer has stayed still, not touched the dog, not made eye contact and not attempted to punish the dog.  The only thing they do is say “Yes” a marker word to indicate that the sit was a good thing. Note the absence of any clicker or food being used to obtain this behaviour. The trainer pats the dog and then stands back up again. This time it only takes 5 seconds for the dog to offer a sit. Then on a third trial it takes 6 seconds. Notice to that the dog is happy to make eye contact and stay very close to the trainer, unlike in the previous video.  The reward being used in this case was a good dog and pat, and then having the lead attached and going in the car for a car ride (this is called a life reward).This dog is one that does not have a very well educated automatic sit.

Let’s look now at a dog that does have a stronger automatic sit response and see how effective this technique can be.

A normal very excitable miniature poodle and he sits within 6 seconds using the same technique. Then he does the same thing three more times to show it is a reliable technique. The same marker work “yes” and the same reward “good boy” pat and go into the car for a trip is used. Three automatic sits in the space of 30 seconds, no yelling, no punishment needed.

Not all dogs however will do an automatic sit. Some like this dog prefer to be able to touch the person but it needs to be done in a way that is acceptable to both parties.

This dog has some separation anxiety and really hurts when he jumps up as he is concerned about being left behind. Same marker word “yes” but this time he is being asked to touch a hand held away from the body. The trainer is required to push away somewhat from the body contact as it does hurt. However they still continue not to yell or punish. A gentle “no” is used as this dog needs that sort of guidance to succeed in any task. As  you can see he is anxious and this anxiety is stopping him from being able to learn. By giving him a hand to touch it helps he come back into the part of his brain that allows learning to occur. When dogs are fearful and anxious, as they are if being punished,  they are not able to learn effectively. This demonstrates the flexibility of positive training.

These videos demonstrate a number of things:

1) Punishment is not needed to teach behaviours they were traditionally used to teach

2) You do not always need a clicker to achieve positive reward based training

3) Food is not always the reward given, life rewards can be just as effective.

Regards

Louise Kerr
The Pet Care Magician

www.elitepetcare.com.au   |    Like us on Facebook

Facebook groups: Talk to me about Positive Reward Based Dog Training

Australian Pet Professionals | Dogs, Horses, Cats, Pocket Pets +Animal Businesses (Mid Nth Coast NSW) 

Louise Kerr (aka The Pet Care Magician) runs the Pet Care Magic club where devil dogs, horrible horses and crazy cats are turned into perfect pets. The program provides owners and pet professionals assistance with with common pet behavior  training, feeding and grooming issues such as barking, escaping, scratching, aggression and fleas  She consults and writes widely on a range of pet care issues for owners and also assists pet care professionals in setting up and growing their businesses by the provision of customer handling advice, sales and marketing strategies and up to date product information that allows for the differentiation of their pet care business from their competitors. The Pet Care Magic Club is part of Elite Pet Care & Education based in the Nambucca Valley NSW Australia but can be found on internet enabled devices worldwide.

About Me 

The canine detective solving problem behaviors.

What do you do when your dog does something you don’t like?

Many people just yell at the dog, push them away or get cranky at their behavior.

However the key to fixing any behavior problem is to sit back and work out why the dog is doing what it is doing, what cue the dog hears or sees that is causing the behavior and what reward the dog is receiving that ensures the behavior keeps happening.

Here is an example:

I’m stuck with my 5 yr old pom/chihuahua mix. When I am not home, she stays in the kitchen area with my other dog, a yorkie. No problems there. The problem is when I arrive home. From the second I park the car to a few minutes after I enter the house, she barks like a little nut. I always ignore her until she stops barking so as not to reward it, but to no avail. It’s not as bad when she’s in her crate, but sometimes I’m gone too long to leave her there.

 (This was posted on Facebook by Michelle a fellow groomer and trainer in the US )

At first glance many positive reward based trainers would say that you do not enter the house until the dogs stops barking  as this will teach the dog not to bark when you arrive home. Many dog owners would enter the house but yell at the dogs to “shut up”. In this case neither solution will stop this dog from barking and the owner has tried with no result to give no attention to the barking as the dog is a very persistent barker.

What needs to happen is that the owner and trainer need to take a few steps back and work out when this dog barks, why it barks and what alternative behavior might stop OR modify the barking. Can this dog be stopped from barking at all? More than likely not as it is excited the owner is home and Poms/ Chihuahua are excitable noisy dogs.

Talking to the owner identified that it is about her and/or her son arriving and the key being inserted in the lock and that she can go outside to put out the trash, chat to neighbours for a while and then go back inside with no barking.  It is not about the car but about the dogs excitement when they arrive home after a period of absence. The dog is also fine when they leave. The dog has been taught a “shush’ command but the excitement of them coming home means she forgets it. Once in awhile she’ll pick up a toy in her excitement and this means that she can’t bark.

As an Animal Behaviourist that has to work out why animals do what they do and find solutions these are all important tips to understanding how to fix or modify this barking. In order to do so it is important to establish what causes the barking to start and what might be some ways the dog has  already exhibited that could be useful as an alternative behavior. Hence the questions that I ask owners so that I can prepare a way to work out a solution to the issue or issues presented. The behaviors that can be solved with quick fixes never end up in my consults sadly, just the ones that owners have not been able to deal with. Then what is needed is a fresh set of eyes and strong questioning techniques to  reframe how the problem is viewed and identify possible solutions.

Michelle is off to try out a few of the suggestions given.

Do you have a problem that you have been unable to solve? Let me know and I would  be happy to help.

Regards

Louise Kerr
The Pet Care Magician

www.elitepetcare.com.au   |    www.petcaremagician.com |  Like us on Facebook

Facebook groups: Promoting Positive Reward Based Dog Training

Australian Pet Professionals

Louise Kerr (aka The Pet Care Magician) is the owner of Elite Pet Care & Education based in the Nambucca Valley NSW Australia. She consults and writes widely on a range of pet care issues including feeding, training and grooming dogs and cats. Her online pet care magic subscription program deals with common pet behavior  training, feeding and grooming issues such as barking, escaping, scratching, aggression and fleas. Pet care professionals are trained to handle customer issues by the provision of up to date programs to differentiate their pet care business from other competitors. About Me 

The straw that broke the camel’s back

No I have not started to write about Camel’s as the title would suggest. Mind you I might when I run out of dog and cat topics.

This well known and very old saying has an equivalent in dog training circles where we talk about Trigger Stacking. Picture this scenario.

You have had a very hectic day with twenty million errands to run, the kids to pick up from school, no food in the fridge for dinner, the car is just about to run out of petrol and then…………..your mobile rings and it is your husband asking about something that is of no importance at all and could easily have waited until he got home that night. You didn’t need that interruption right now and so you loose it and start yelling at him, telling him he is a nuisance, time waster  who you regret ever marrying and hang up on him. The kids get into the car and it is immediately “mum, mum, mum”. You loose it again and start to yell at them as you slam the car into gear narrowly missing the other big SUV’s double parked in the no parking zone at the kid’s school. You are still fuming when you get home and all anyone has to do is look sideways at your and you start yelling again. Everyone keeps a very wide berth for the rest of the night.

What has happened?

All your triggers have stacked up into a huge pile that resulted in the final one pushing you over the edge. Each on its own you could have coped with but when they all came at you on the same day they pushed you over the edge into a screaming wreak that wanted to run and hide from the world. Does this sound familiar to the mums out there ? If this can happen to a well adjusted, well resourced intelligent human then it stands to reason exactly the same thing can happen to a dog. However in dogs it is called Trigger stacking and is seen often in scared dogs.  The issue  however is that we don’t always recognize what the triggers are and out of the blue we have a dog that is going ballistic barking (canine equivalent of screaming)  or worse has bitten someone, for no apparent reason. They have reached the point of no return and have tipped over into reactive mode, for some that means aggressive action. Once they are there the only way out is to totally remove them from the environment, keep all other environmental stimuli away and let them calm down. For some dogs this might means days as cortisol levels in stressed dogs can often take some time to return to normal. The amount of time the stress levels stay elevated for is very individual and many dogs hide all signs that tell you they are stressed. The only real way of knowing is to know your dog extremely well and that includes being able to read very subtle signs that they are not happy.

The level at which they tip over into reaction, often with aggression or a bite is called their threshold. This threshold level is very individual for dogs and can vary from day to day. The only way to prevent these type of reactions is to manage your dog and the stresses it is exposed to each day as well as learning how to read canine body language that will enable you to detect the subtle signs of stress. The other excellent way to protect your dog is to ensure they were well socialized during the critical 8-16 week age period. It is during that time that exposing the puppy to as many strange things as possible builds up a positive bank of weird experiences that they can tap into in later life.

Want to read more about trigger stacking. Check out his excellent post by Casey Lomonaco on Dogster

 

Regards

Louise Kerr
The Pet Care Magician

www.elitepetcare.com.au   |    www.petcaremagician.com |  Like us on Facebook

Facebook groups: Promoting Positive Reward Based Dog Training

Groomers who chose to use positive methods to groom dogs and cats

Australian Pet Professionals

Louise Kerr (aka The Pet Care Magician) is the owner of Elite Pet Care & Education based in the Nambucca Valley NSW Australia. She consults and writes widely on a range of pet care issues including feeding, training and grooming dogs and cats. Her online pet care magic subscription program deals with common pet behavior  training, feeding and grooming issues such as barking, escaping, scratching, aggression and fleas. Pet care professionals are trained to handle customer issues by the provision of up to date programs to differentiate their pet care business from other competitors. About Me 

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