WHY SHOULD I TRAIN MY DOG?

This is a great article from Victoria Stilwell’s positively.com that help answer the basic question, “Why should I train my dog?”. We hope the ideals presented resonate and you enjoy the article.

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People used to think that dog training was only about teaching dogs obedience commands, usually through the use of heavy-handed punishment-based techniques. It was viewed as somewhat of a luxury for pet parents and was often wrongly considered to be something so straightforward and simple to achieve that anyone could do it on their own without the help of a professional.

That sentiment does still exist to a degree, but increasingly, dog owners are beginning to recognize that although the profession of dog training is not regulated, there is sometimes life-saving value in finding the perfect trainer to help point them and their dogs in the right direction and provide much-needed guidance.

Science has evolved, and with it the profession of dog training has exploded, but not without controversy. Many traditional trainers that continue to promote outdated dominance and punishment-based philosophies have seen their livelihoods threatened by the ever-growing army of enlightened positive trainers like Victoria's global VSPDT dog trainer network. As a result, dog owners face an increasingly difficult choice when it comes to choosing the right dog trainer.

What is no longer up for debate, however, is that provided you hire a qualified truly positive trainer, any money spent on training will be returned to both you and your dog exponentially in terms of a healthy relationship and a harmonious household.

The fact is that the majority of owned dogs have had no formal training – positive or otherwise. Since dogs are now sharing our homes and our lives in ever closer ways, it is more important than ever that every dog be given a good canine education. Doing so will prevent thousands of dogs being surrendered to shelters due to behavioral issues that could have been prevented. Investing the time to teach your dog will make living with her easier and that investment could also save her life.


5 Reasons Why You Should Train Your Dog

  1. To Build a Positive Relationship
    One of the best ways to build a healthier relationship with your dog is to understand how your dog learns and use the principles of positive training to make learning as rewarding, successful and easy as possible. Punitive trainers believe that in order to achieve so-called ‘balance’ with your dog, you must first teach her who is boss by becoming her ‘alpha’ or ‘pack leader'. This approach is doomed to fail from the start because the methods used to establish this dominant status are physically and psychologically damaging to your dog and dangerous for you.Positive training, which rewards and motivates a dog for good behavior, allows you to foster a relationship with your dog based on mutual trust and respect instead of fear and intimidation. The most effective teachers are those who can influence behavior in their dogs without the use of force and work through any problems in a humane manner. Dogs that are taught using positive reinforcement methods are more tolerant, self-controlled and behave much more predictably in different situations.

  1. To Teach Life Skills
    Every dog needs to learn how to live successfully in a home environment. Domestic dogs might seem to have an easy life compared to their wild counterparts, but living in a human world comes with certain unique pressures. Teaching your dog basic manner skills and providing her with enough mental enrichment and physical exercise will prevent her from developing anxiety and other stress related behaviors such as destructive chewinginappropriate barking and aggressive display.An important part of the learning process is to set your dog up for success by managing her environment and making it easy for her to do well. This begins with understanding how your dog copes in certain situations. For example, if your dog is highly social and loves new people coming into your home, teach her to greet without jumping or overwhelming your guest as they enter. This helps inhibit excitable behavior while still allowing her to enjoy the new person’s arrival.If your dog is wary or fearful of new people, take pressure off her by putting her behind a baby gate or in her own room as they enter. This will help keep stress at bay and your dog emotionally stable. Space is vitally important for dogs that are socially inexperienced or fearful, and managing your environment to reduce pressure keeps everyone happy and safe.

  1. To Increase Sociability
    Increasing your dog’s enjoyment of social interaction will give her the confidence to deal with the pressures of domestic life. Training your dog to have good manners and behave well in different situations requires effort, but consistent commitment ensures success.We have high expectations for our dogs, encouraging them to be friendly with everyone they meet, even if they are uncomfortable in certain situations. It is therefore vital to socialize your dog by giving her good experiences in the presence of all kinds of people, animals and environments. Doing so at a young age will give her confidence and lessen the chance of her experiencing anxiety and discomfort in adulthood.Socialization does not mean your dog has to always physically touch another dog or a person. Humans ‘socialize’ all the time without physically touching each other. Exposing your dog to different situations where she can observe and ‘converse’ at a distance is as important as teaching her to accept physical touch. People are naturally drawn to interact with a cute pup and when dogs greet each other some physical touching is likely to take place.Socialization is all about keeping your dog comfortable in these social situations while taking care not to force her into a situation she might find uncomfortable. If you have the kind of dog that does not interact well with others, do not feel you need to force her. Not all dogs, like people, are social.Understanding how your dog copes will determine how far you can go and even though having a social dog is preferable in our society, it is not a failure to keep your dog out of a situation she finds uncomfortable. Observing how she copes will help you respect and understand her limitations.

  1. To Avoid Problem Behaviors
    Training your dog builds up a language of communication between you that promotes security and comfort. The more time you invest teaching your dog to live successfully in a human world the more you will avoid problem behaviors that come from lack of understanding. Unfortunately, many dogs end up being punished for negative behavior that could have been avoided if time was taken to help them learn.Many dogs respond well to cues such as sit and stay in the classroom, but remain unprepared to deal with life’s pressures in the real world. Make sure that every cue or action has a purpose behind it. Sit is a valuable cue because it can be used before the front door is opened or before crossing a road, while come is a cue that allows your dog to be off leash but teaches her to return to you when you need.Hand targeting or the touch cue, for example, not only helps your dog get used to hands being extended towards her, a scenario she is likely to experience many times in her life, but is also good for teaching a recall.

  1. For Loyalty and Companionship
    Positive reinforcement does not mean you do not mark your dog’s misbehaviors, just that the ‘discipline’ should be used as constructive guidance rather than as an intimidation technique. Discipline in the form of time outs, removal, vocal interrupters or simply ignoring behavior that you do not like, are far more effective than harshly suppressing negative behavior.Guiding your dog into making the right choices and understanding what she needs to be happy will help increase the bond between you.

There seems to be a great misconception that positive trainers never like to say no to their dogs and allow them to get away with negative behavior. There is also a misguided belief that positive trainers only teach by stuffing food into dogs’ faces and that they lack the skills to truly rehabilitate severe problem behaviors such as aggression.

Positive training helps people foster relationships with even problem dogs by understanding, and turning around the problem behavior without the use of force or fear. This changes behavior without damaging trust between dog and owner. Anyone can use rewards to teach dogs to learn but it takes advanced knowledge and skill to turn around negative behavior without the use of force.

People who make time to teach their dogs lead more fulfilling lives with their canine companions. A healthy balance of learning manners, encouraging sociability and providing your dog with the right kind of outlets will ensure her success. People who fail to give their dogs the education they need are doing them a great disservice and will have problems in the future. The learning process does not have to be costly or intense, and the more enjoyable it is for the both of you, the better the results will be.

Understanding Motivation

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Understanding Motivation Motivation is what makes your dog tick. It’s what drives him to do things, like respond to your cues and find doing so worthwhile ... even the second and third times you ask. Common canine motivators include: Car rides, a ball tossed, a walk, a leash clipped on or off , playing with toys, access to other dogs, access to smells, and ... the biggie ... food.

Why should you know what motivates your dog? 
Because you can give him reason to pay attention to you. It’s the equivalent of saying to your dog, “I’ll tell you what: If you sit, I’ll throw your ball” or “If you stop pulling on the leash, I’ll let you go smell that fire hydrant.” You use what naturally motivates your dog to get the behaviors you want most. 

So how do you go about it?
First, limit your dog’s access to the things he finds most motivating. Have a ball-crazy dog? Instead of leaving balls around the house at all times, carry them with you so you can whip one out as a way to reward your dog when he is getting something right.

Second, make an item more exciting by bringing it to life for your dog. Simply handing him a toy isn’t nearly as fun for a dog as shaking it about, playing peek-a-boo with it, and then, at the height of excitement, asking for a behavior and rewarding it with a toss of the toy. Food sitting around in a bowl can’t equal the fun of kibble dished out during a lively training session.

Have trouble getting your dog’s attention?
Be sure you’re using the right motivators for the challenge. Dry cookies can’t compete with a treed squirrel. Always have an ultimate trump card—something your dog just can’t resist.

October is Adopt-A-Dog Month®. By American Humane Association.

Dog Events for October
October is Adopt-A-Dog Month®. By American Humane Association.

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Please consider adopting before buying...there are SO MANY great dogs in need of loving homes. If you are looking to add a new furry member to your family or know of someone that is, please look to the Humane Society of the Desert - Orphan Pet Oasis. They currently have over 12 dogs from Hurricane Harvey that are looking for homes, not to mention several other dogs from our local area that are in need of someone like you. Visit their website to find out more or check out just a few of them on our Adopt Me! page. 

Heat Safety this Summer

If you missed our email on June 27, here are the top 14 tips we sent out since summer is here and so is the heat! 

I think we have all felt like this at some point during the summer months. :)

I think we have all felt like this at some point during the summer months. :)

14 Safety Tips For Being Safe This Summer

1- Visit the vet for a spring or early-summer checkup. Make sure your pet is healthy and ready for any summer fun planned.

2 - Fresh Water. Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it’s hot or humid outdoors. If you live in an extremely hot climate (aka. Coachella Valley), ALWAYS carry waterwith you or in your car with a water bowl. This may help you, your dog or someone else in need.

3 - Shade. Make sure your pets have a shady place to get out of the sun, be careful not to over-exercise them, and keep them indoors when it’s extremely hot.

4 - Know the symptoms of overheating in pets, which include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. Symptoms can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees.

5 - Flat faced breeds are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with the elderly, the overweight, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.

6 - Never leave your animals alone in a parked vehicle. Not only can it lead to fatal heat stroke, it is illegal in several states!

7 - Do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool — not all dogs are good swimmers. Introduce your pets to water gradually and make sure they wear flotation devices when on boats. Rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from his fur, and try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals.

8 - Open unscreened windows pose a real danger to pets, who often fall out of them. Keep all unscreened windows or doors in your home closed, and make sure adjustable screens are tightly secured.

9 - Never shave your dog, but trim longer hair on your dog. The layers of dogs’ coats protect them from overheating and sunburn. Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat.

10 - Sunscreen and insect repellent, be sure that any products you use on your pets is labeled specifically for use on animals.

11 - Don’t let your dog linger on hot asphalt. Being so close to the ground, your pooch’s body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn. Keep walks during these times to a minimum, and consider doggie booties.

12 - Remember that food and drink commonly found at BBQ's can be poisonous to pets. Keep alcoholic beverages away from pets, as they can cause intoxication, depression and comas. Similarly, remember that the snacks enjoyed by your human friends should not be a treat for your pet; any change of diet, even for one meal, may give your dog or cat severe digestive ailments. Avoid raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and products with the sweetener xylitol. 

13 - Please leave in a quiet, sheltered, escape-proof area of your home during Fourth of July celebrations, and never use fireworks around pets. Exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns or trauma, and even unused fireworks can contain hazardous materials. Many pets are also fearful of loud noises and can become lost, scared or disoriented, so it’s best to keep your little guys safe from the noise. 

14 - Keep Fido from getting the summer time blues by enrolling them in classes at Dream Dogs where they are indoors and have an opportunity to work off some of their pent-up energy in a safe and fun environment. No sunscreen required.

Positively,
Dream Dogs

Tricks to Beat the Summer Heat!

Tricks are a great way to keep Fido busy when it is too hot to go for a walk. Working your dog’s brain is just as important as exercise. Engage their attention by training a trick. Here are a few ...

Paws Up

  1. Hold a treat slightly above a sturdy piece of furniture and cue your dog “paws up”. Pat the item too coax your dog’s front feet onto it. Hold the treat only slightly behind the edge, so as not to encourage your dog to jump on top or over it.
  2. The instant both of your dogs paws come up on the item, give your dog the treat.
  3. Once your dog gets the hang of this, try keeping the treat in your treat bag and give the cue without the food lure. If your dog puts his paws on the box, immediately give him a reward.

Take a Bow

  1. Have your dog stand facing you. Hold a treat in your fist at nose height.
  2. Cue “bow” and gently press your hand with the treat from your dog’s nose towards his back paws.
  3. The instant your dogs elbows touch the floor release the treat. Be sure to release the treat only when your is in the correct bow position, and not after he has returned to a stand or laid down.
  4. As your dog improves, try to get him to stay in the bow position for a second before you release the treat.
  5. Your physical cur is your legs crossed left leg behind the right.

Shake

  1. With your dog sitting in front of you, hide a treat in your hand, low to the ground. Encourage him to “get it” and “shake”. Reward your dog with the treat the moment his paw comes off the ground.
  2. Once he is able to due this 8 put of 10 times, up the ante and raise the height of your hand.
  3. Transition using the hand signal. Stand up and hold the treat behind your back and extend your other hand out while cueing “shake”. When your dogs paw is in your extended hand give him the treat.

Wave Bye Bye

  1. With your dog sitting in front of you have him “shake”.
  2. Give him hints in progressively greater amounts by saying “bye-bye shake” and then extending your hand a little higher than you would normally due for the “shake” Your dog won’t be able to hold his paw up that high so his motion will look like he is pawing your hand.
  3. Draw your hand slightly away from your dog so he can barely reach your fingers.
  4. Pull your hand back at the last second so he is not touching you at all, but merely pawing the air. Mark the instant he performs it correctly by saying “GOOD!” so he understands the desired behavior is the waving action.

This is a great way to beat the heat and humidity this summer, depending on where you live. Let us know any new tricks that your loyal companion learns. We'd love to see them in action! Please drop us a photo at TrainAnyDog@dreamdogs.com.

Positively, 
Dream Dogs

Welcome to the Dream Dogs Blog!

Welcome All! We are excited to em-bark (pun intended) on this conversation about all things dogs. These amazing creatures are our friends, family members, confidants, protectors at times, workout buddies that never flake out, best listeners ever, and in some cases, the best-dog at our ceremonies. Trying to understand them is a lifelong search for some of us, delving into breed history and behavior... others, we just want to know why the $@#%! they did that and how to make them stop! Where ever you are on this spectrum, we hope that some of your questions will be answered and perhaps, maybe raise some new ones... either way, we are excited you are joining us and look forward to sharing whatever dog insight we discover. Please join us in the conversation and share your comments below. We look forward to seeing you in the Dream Dog Blog!