All posts by AniEd Ireland

Need an enthusiasm-injection…?

It’s a tough week for everyone so here is some more inspiration from our amazing followers participating in Train Your Dog Month 2016 with their amazing canine companions.

Rocky tries out a recall and scavenger hunt:

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Riley works on some tugging and obedience breaks on his walk:

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Buddy has some rainy day fun:

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And Decker shows off his rapid recall from major distraction (water) for a scavenger hunt!

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Keep going – next week is all about relaxing, so you will have a little break!

Week 1 Bonus Challenge

Because we know you can’t enough, here’s an extra bonus training game for you and your dog to enjoy!

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Where’s my keys?

Transfer some of your dog’s new-found sniffing-genius to a really useful task by teaching him to hunt down often-missing items such as your keys.

Time Allowance:
Practice for 1 minute sessions at a time with plenty of down-time in between.
It’s best to try to work practice into your routine, such as while you wait for the kettle to boil, while you wait for the computer to start up or during the ad break of a TV show.

Family Participation:
Kids are often great dog trainers. Teach each child how to lure safely.
If your dog is mouthy,  jumpy or likely to get over-excited it might be best for you to get the behaviours established and then bring in the kids to help with practice.
Always supervise child-dog interactions and make sure children learn to leave the dog alone when eating his rewards.

Get started…

Work on scent puzzles that encourage your dog to sniff out a hidden treat, like this simple game:

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 With a bit of practice…

Introduce cups or tubs – your dog is learning how to indicate that he smells something interesting:

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 And soon…

Playing the Cup Game with your keys helps to teach your dog the relevance of their smell.

Reward your dog at source for this one – that means to reward with several food rewards, delivered one after another right at your keys.

(Note in the clip I toss food to move Decker away so I can reset – I’m working with one hand and holding the camera with the other!)

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Show us how you get on with this challenge!

 

 

 

Training Game 1.4

Tricks for Treats

Trick training is a fun way for your dog to earn his lunch and for you to really get into teaching your dog behaviours.

Keep it light, keep it fun  and remember, it’s all tricks to your dog!

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Today’s Games

Time Allowance:
Practice for 1-2 minute sessions and then take a break. Have a few  sessions today and tomorrow.

Try fitting  each short session into your routine; for example, while you wait for the kettle to boil, during the ad break of your TV show or while you wait for the computer to start up.

Family Participation:
Kids are often great dog trainers. Teach each child how to lure safely.
If your dog is mouthy,  jumpy or likely to get over-excited it might be best for you to get the behaviours established and then bring in the kids to help with practice.
Always supervise child-dog interactions and make sure children learn to leave the dog alone when eating his rewards.

Top Tip for Today’s Training Games:

When you are just starting with a new behaviour (for you or your dog) work in a low distraction situation, such as inside the house, so that both you and your dog can concentrate on learning the new behaviour.

Luring

Let’s start with luring – this is a way of teaching dogs simple behaviours by guiding their body into position with a food reward or toy right on their nose.

A small food reward, like a piece of kibble, is best to start with as it can be hidden in your hand easily.

The mechanics of luring start with how you hold the lure:

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Hold the lure under your thumb and against your fingers. Present the back of your fingers to the dog though.
This helps to avoid your dog mouthing at the lure in your fingers.

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Move the lure down to your palm when you reward the dog.

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Deliver the lure, as a reward, on your flat palm. This is a safer reward presentation and reduces your dog’s teeth catching your hand.

 

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Hold the lure right at your dog’s nose and move it slowly until they are in position. Say YES! and release the lure to reward them.

Think of the lure like a magnet…

If your dog’s nose isn’t right at the lure (remember, it’s a magnet) you’re moving too fast or in the wrong position.

Luring properly can take quite a bit of practice but we’ll keep it simple with some cute tricks to get you started.

Beginner Level Tricks

Sit Pretty

Ask your dog to sit, or lure him into sit position.

Slowly raise the lure, right at your dog’s nose, straight up above his head.

When he lifts his front legs off the floor, say YES! and release the lure to reward him.

Repeat until your dog promptly follows the lure straight up, and supports his weight, front legs off the floor.

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Spin

Decide whether you are going to teach a clockwise or anti-clockwise spin – it doesn’t matter to your dog but will be confusing if you chop and change.

Hold your lure right at your dog’s nose and move it straight out at his chin-height.

Guide him slowly around in a circle, back toward his tail.

When he completes the circle, say YES! and release the lure to reward him.

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Advanced Level Tricks

Leg Weaves

This is a more complex trick that involves teaching a couple of behaviours. We lure the dog in a figure-of-8 movement around our legs.

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Practice luring your dog in a spin before trying this one, to really get the hang of moving the dog with a lure.

Have a lure in each hand.

Hold your left lure behind your back and drop it down between your legs, behind your left thigh.

Encourage your dog to move toward it by moving between your legs.

Lure him around to the front of your left leg.

Say YES! and release the lure to reward your dog at the inside of your left leg.

Immediately repeat on your right side.

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After some practice you will be able to work with only one lure, the one in your right hand.

Roll Over

Ask your dog to lie down, or lure him into a down position.

Wait for your dog to choose a hip to rest his weight on, or lure him to one side or the other.

Guide your dog’s head back toward the opposite hip.

Lure your dog’s head up and over so that he lies on his side. You can continue to lure your dog over all the way or choose to reward him at this stage.

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The key to luring is getting rid of the lure!

We certainly don’t want to have to lure the dog with a food reward every time we want the dog to do a behaviour so as soon as the dog is doing the behaviour by following the lure, we will begin to fade the lure and eventually get rid of it altogether.

First stage is to fade the lure so that it’s less about the lure and more about being rewarded for the behaviour:

  • once your dog is performing the behaviour every time you lure him, keep the lure working but don’t let the dog have it – when he completes the behaviour, say YES! and reward him with a food reward from your other hand

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  • with some practice, switch to using the lure every second time – keep your hand in the same position, as if you had the lure in there – say YES! and reward the dog from your other hand
  • after a few repetitions, switch to using no lure at all and instead just say YES! and reward the dog from your other hand

 

Once the behaviour is reliable, start working without a lure:

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Now your dog is performing the behaviour on your hand signal (empty hand)! Because English is a second language to your dog we will use your hand signal to teach the dog your verbal cue (a word).

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Start adding your verbal cue once your dog is following your hand signal:

  • say the word you have chosen to call the behaviour – it can be any word you like – before you move your hand signal
  • say YES! and reward your dog

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You might use a body movement, rather than a verbal cue too:

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When the dog is performing the behaviour on verbal cue we can begin to think about reducing the number of food rewards.

If you would bet €50 that your dog will do the behaviour when you ask him, you can start to reduce the number of food rewards! Doing so before this may weaken the reliability of the behaviour – don’t un-do your hard work!

Do you have a favourite trick you are working on? Practice that one instead, having your dog earn his Training Mix!

Let’s see those tricks – wow us!

 

Training Game 1.3 – Friday’s Games (reminder)

Just a reminder for Game 1.3 again today:

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Beginner Level ideas:

  • bring a yummy lined (frozen) Kong toy or chew on your walk today and give to your dog about halfway through in a calm and low-distraction place; settle for about ten minutes (check your phone, bring a book…) – take a break!
    It’s a good idea to provide your dog with a pacifying activity after your walk too.

Advanced Level ideas:

  • teach your dog to start and stop your favourite game on cue – have an obedience break of at least two behaviours
  • play jazz up/settle down:
    Get your dog all excited and wound up for a five count.
    Ask your dog to lie down or settle and be quiet.
    Once your dog is quiet, get him all wound up again.
    Have an assistant (the kids might love this job!) time how long it takes for the dog to settle.
    Repeat – record your improving times.

Yay!

Today’s training games are certainly a little more challenging and you and your dog have done great!

Well done – the last plan of the week is coming on Saturday so be sure to let us know how you are getting on 🙂

Training Game 1.3

Up & Down – pacifying and energising activities for dogs

To really benefit from enrichment and entertainment, dogs need both pacifying and energising activities – if we bring them up (energising) we also need to bring them down (pacifying) again.

This can be applied in real life too, and not just in games. If your dog gets particularly excited by something such as the doorbell or seeing another dog, make sure to give him the opportunity to engage in a pacifying activity afterwards to help him calm again.

Use your dog’s regular food for pacifying and energising activities in fun kibble games:

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Today’s Games

We have a training challenge for you today (and tomorrow)!

Time Allowance: 

Each game will take 30 seconds to 10 minutes depending on which games you choose.
Your dog will be doing lots of the work!

Family Participation:

Children will enjoy preparing some of these games but please take care – it’s not recommended that your dog associate high activity and excitement with children so best choose games that the kids can participate in carefully.
Just ask us if you need help!

Thursday’s Games:

Today choose at least one energising activity and one pacifying activity that you and your dog will enjoy.

Play with your dog:

  • 1-2 minute pacifying activity

followed by…

  • 30 second energising activity

followed by…

  • 1-2 minute pacifying activity

Have a few rounds of that sequence today (always beginning and ending with pacifying activities) – be creative, mix and match activities and time it so that pacifying activities coincide with your natural settling routines e.g. family dinner time, watching TV.

Friday’s Games:

Beginner Level ideas:

  • repeat Thursday’s game (I play this one with my dog every day!)
  • bring a yummy lined (frozen) Kong toy or chew on your walk today and give to your dog about halfway through in a calm and low-distraction place; settle for about ten minutes (check your phone, bring a book…) – take a break!
    It’s a good idea to provide your dog with a pacifying activity after your walk too.

Advanced Level ideas:

  • teach your dog to start and stop your favourite game on cue – have an obedience break of at least two behaviours
  • play jazz up/settle down:
    Get your dog all excited and wound up for a five count.
    Ask your dog to lie down or settle and be quiet.
    Once your dog is quiet, get him all wound up again.
    Have an assistant (the kids might love this job!) time how long it takes for the dog to settle.
    Repeat – record your improving times.

Pacifying

When working on pacifying activities use your dog’s regular food to avoid too much excitement.

Lapping & chewing
are calming for dogs and a great (and more acceptable) outlet for destructive behaviours.

Providing your dog with a stuffed or lined chew toy can encourage him to settle, lap and chew so helping him to relax too.
Of course we are big fans of Kong toys!

Simply lining a Kong toy with something yummy and freezing it can be a great way of keeping your dog busy and chilled, easily.

Make a homemade pacifier for your dog; and it makes a great summer treat too:

  • line a lunchbox with a plastic bag or film
  • add some food, treats, chews to the lunchbox
  • add water or low-salt stock
  • freeze
  • turn it out but don’t give to your dog if he is already hot or cold

 

Choose chews for your dog carefully and know your dog’s chewing style. Your dog chewing anything may be potentially harmful in a particular situation so be aware of ways to reduce the risks.

It’s never a good idea to give your dog cooked bones or very hard bone (e.g. weight bearing bone, heavy antlers etc.) as these can cause damage either when ingested or during chewing to teeth.

Natural chews are generally best but always check and monitor their condition. Look for signs of splitting or splintering, and keep an eye on their size appropriate to your dog.
Chews such as gullets, ‘pizzles’ and scalp have become more widely available.

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Cheaper rawhide type chews can be dangerous if swallowed so if choosing rawhide look for chews that are constructed from one piece of hide, that are not bleached or coloured and keep a close eye on your dog as he chews them.

If in doubt, ask your qualified veterinary healthcare team before allowing your pet to chew!

Settle exercises will help to teach our dogs to take up a more relaxed position on cue, so as to help him chill out while you relax too.
Don’t worry, we will be working on settling and calming exercises during our program so you will have lots of practice.

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Self-control exercises help to boost your dog’s frustration tolerance and patience. Asking your dog to think first before acting will help him to calm himself in exciting situations.
We will be working on lots of these exercises during our program too.

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Energising

These are the easy ones – dogs are very good at getting excited! That means we have to work harder at teaching our dogs calming behaviours.
So, we will use these energising activities to help teach our dogs to calm too.

Chasing and catching food rewards is a great way of getting your dog activated and is perfect for rainy days when outdoor exercise may be limited.

Always work within your dog’s physical capabilities and take care of the sorts of surfaces you ask your dog to run, jump and turn on.

Games like Chase the Kibble, Catch the Kibble or Goalkeeping are simple and require very little activity on your part so are perfect if you are feeling under the weather.

If you have a fit dog, having them chase kibble or food rewards up and down the stairs can tire them quickly.

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Energising Food Dispensing Toys such as Kong Wobblers are some of our favourites.

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You can get lots of different variations too and most pet shops stock them.

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You can make your own too!

Cut a couple of holes in a Pringles container (or Bisto gravy granules or similar), add kibble or treats and tape on the lid.

Add kibble to a plastic bottle and seal up the lid. Cut a couple of holes along the body of the bottle.

Allow your dog to roll their puzzle to release the yummies.

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Practicing training exercises such as tricks and manners in short sessions each day gets valuable practice in while providing both physical and mental challenges.

And of course you will get lots of practice during this program!

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Toy play:

You can also introduce energising activities with toys. Games such as tug and fetch are great fun for both dogs and humans BUT if we are going to play games, there must be rules.

Rules help prevent some of the problems that can be associated with too much high-arousal, repetitive activity (see Tuesday’s post).

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Teach your dog the rules of these games first, so that the fun stays fun:

  • the game starts on cue only

Use a cue word or action that lets your dog know the game is going to start.
Rules that may be in place in ‘real life’ may not be in play during a game and other rules may be enforced so letting your dog know it’s time to play will reduce confusion.
This can also help to prevent your dog being frustrated or nagging at you to play.

  • the game ends on cue

Teach your dog to give up his toy on cue and end the game so life can go back to normal. This is a good time to provide your dog with a pacifying activity to reward him for ending the game and to help bring him back down from his excitement.

Teaching a ball-addict to give up a ball on cue can require some training:

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  • have lots of obedience breaks

When you first start teaching the rules of the game, have an obedience break after every ball-throw or 3-5 – count of tug.
Ask your dog for two or three obedience behaviours and then reward him with the opportunity to play again.

Teaching Tug (with rules) is an excellent way of improving your dog’s self control, responsiveness and having fun!

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  • dog touches human = game over

Define your rules in terms of what you find acceptable and then make sure to consistently have those rules in play during the game.

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Because play is exciting dogs can lose a little control so may grab at clothing or your hands, for example, they may jump up more than usual or bump into their human companion.
To keep excitement under control as much as possible it’s a good idea to be pretty strict early on and relax as appropriate as your dog improves.

Generally, it’s a good idea to end the game if your dog’s mouth catches your clothing or skin. Just stop playing, put the toy away and be very boring and still. Wait for your dog to calm a little, ask them for an obedience break and then start the game again.

Play for a shorter time and keep the action a little more low-key this time to help prevent your dog losing control again. As you practice more games-with-rules you will be able to increase the length of the fun part!

Remember, you are always training your dog – even when playing:

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Yay!

Today’s training games are certainly a little more challenging and you and your dog have done great!

Well done – the last plan of the week is coming on Saturday so be sure to let us know how you are getting on 🙂

Clicks + Treats for our fab-followers

We have the best followers who are having lots of fun with their dogs!

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Check out some of the fun they have been having with our Train Your Dog Month games:

Truffs sniff sniff sniffing a dinner-trail:

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Riley’s super challenging sniffing course:

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and his puzzles:

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Sam hunts down his breakfast:

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George really gets into this tricky puzzle:

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And of course lots of pet owners are commenting too. Thank you all so much for participating and getting involved to help your dogs become better canine citizens!

Lots more to come so keep sharing the fun with us!

Training Game 1.2

Fun & Brain Games

Puzzles are our favourite games for dogs – really getting their brain-power working and challenging them is important to keep dogs happy and healthy.

Use your Training Mix for these puzzles but you can also use higher value treats if you set a great challenge – better pay, for harder work!
Build the challenge slowly to avoid frustration and the dog losing interest.

Before using any home-made puzzles check out this clip for some of our favourite puzzle ideas plus please read the safety guidelines at the start:

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I know, I know… but some important considerations to be aware of plus ideas for our favourite puzzles 🙂

Today’s Games


Time Allowance:

Each game will take you 2-10 minutes to set up – depending on the puzzles your choose.
Try a couple of these puzzles today.

Family Participation:
Fun for all the family – children will love constructing puzzles for dogs.
Always supervise child-dog interactions and make sure children learn to leave the dog alone while he works on his puzzle.

Top Tip for Today’s Games:

Give your dog a puzzle in a confined or smaller area. Things could get messy so it’s easier to clean up if the mess is restricted.

Remember, encourage your dog to move away from the puzzle before you start clean up!

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Stuffed Puzzles

You will need:

  • cardboard tube from e.g. toilet roll
  • crumpled paper e.g. newspaper, kitchen paper
  • paper e.g. newspaper, old wrapping paper
  • Training Mix

Beginner Level ideas:

  • add a treat to a cardboard tube and squeeze the ends
  • set up as above and wrap loosely in old wrapping paper

Advanced Level ideas:

  • Add a treat to a cardboard tube, stuff the tube with crumpled kitchen roll or even newspaper. Wrap the tube in paper to make a Christmas Cracker.

Rolled Puzzles

You will need:

  • stiff cardboard, like a flap from a box
  • old tea towel
  • Training Mix

Beginner Level ideas:

  • remove the flap from a box and spread it out flat; sprinkle some food on it and then roll it up

Advanced Level ideas:

  • sprinkle a tea towel with food and roll it up
  • for an extra challenge, slightly dampen the towel, roll up with food and freeze

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Precision Puzzles

You will need:

  • cardboard eggboxes
  • butter, yoghurt or cream cheese tubs with lids
  • crumpled paper
  • old wrapping paper
  • Training Mix

Beginner Level ideas:

  • add some food to an eggbox and close over the lid, without fastening
  • add some food to a tub and place the lid on top, without pressing it down too hard

Advanced Level ideas:

  • add some food to an eggbox and close the lid – for an extra challenge wrap the eggbox in old wrapping paper
  • fill the tub with food and crumpled paper, close the lid tightly

Teasers

You will need:

  • muffin tin
  • cardboard tubes, tennis balls, disposable cups
  • tray, basket, box
  • Training Mix

Beginner Level ideas:

  • place a food reward in each gap of an eggbox or muffin tin; cover each treat with a tennis ball, toilet roll tube or disposable cup

Advanced Level ideas:

  • sprinkle food on the base of the tray/basket/box and then fill the entire container with cardboard tubes standing up – pack it tightly to really challenge your dog

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Snuffle Puzzles

Use a soft ball with holes to make a snuffle ball. Check out our clip and listen for the snuffling:

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Really getting into puzzling your dog?  Make him a snuffle mat!

Thread lengths of t-shirt or fleece fabric through the gaps in a rubber doormat and distribute your dog’s meal throughout.

Busy Box

Fill a box with crumpled paper, add treats and close up the box. To make an even busier box, you can add that box to another box too.

Scent Puzzles

You will need:

  • towel, mat or blanket
  • some disposable cups or plastic tubs with or without lids (all the same)
  • Training Mix

Beginner Level ideas:

  • sprinkle some food on the floor and cover with a towel/mat/blanket – let your dog see you
  • to advance this puzzle, hide the food under a mat when the dog isn’t present and then release him to search

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Advanced Level ideas:

  • line up three upturned cups or tubs with food underneath one; release your dog to search

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Bobbing for Kibble

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You will need:

  • a bowl, basin or kiddies paddling pool
  • water
  • Training Mix

Beginner Level idea:

  • toss some food in a bowl of very shallow water when your dog is watching – to increase the challenge remove the dog from the room before submerging the food

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Advanced Level idea:

  • toss some food in a container with deeper water – to increase the challenge remove the dog from the room before submerging the food

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Wohoo!

Another day over – well done!

Remember, you are only limited by your imagination so show off some of the puzzles you have made – we would love to see your ideas!