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Should I Use Dog Training Treats When I Teach My Dog?

Karen Treating Oliver
Karen Treating Oliver

Have you ever seen this?

Someone asks their dog to “sit”. The dog just stares at them.

They say “sit”, “sit”, “sit”. Still nothing.

Finally, the person pulls out a treat and asks for “sit”. The dog sits.

This is what bribery looks like. If you see this, something has gone terribly wrong during training.

Every once in a while, I will come across someone who does not believe in using food when working with their dog. The general reason for it is that they don’t want to have to bribe their dogs in order to get them to listen.

This is totally understandable. And it would be a good argument against using food in training…if it were valid. But it isn’t.

Unfortunately, if you have to resort to bribery in order to get your dog to perform, then you haven’t been using the food correctly. So, the issue isn’t the use of food. The issue is the inappropriate use of food.

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Leadership vs Bullying in Dog Training

Lugh Looking over My Shoulder

Lugh Looking over My Shoulder

Have you ever heard someone say that you need to be your dog’s “leader”?

Unfortunately, whenever you hear that kind of language out of a trainer, it’s often an indicator that they are operating from a long-outdated framework. Not only are their methods obsolete, but those very methods have been revealed as being dangerous to your dog’s wellbeing.

While they are correct in saying that you should learn how to lead your dog, the problem is with their understanding of what leadership in actual dog training really is.

Sadly, this misconception of leadership in dog training abounds. Its widespread acceptance is surely influenced by the National Geographic Channel’s popularization of The Dog Whisperer and its brutal methods.

This makes it very difficult to talk about actual leadership in dog training without first addressing the misunderstanding.

Read More »Leadership vs Bullying in Dog Training

Buying Guide for a New Puppy or Rescue Dog – 2019

Congratulations on bringing a new family member into your home!

Puppy Loki Before He Arrived Home

Puppy Loki Before He Arrived in Our Home

What an exciting time for you. If you haven’t already considered it, I recommend starting with force-free training as soon as possible. The benefits of early training cannot be overstated.

While this is an exciting time, it can also be an expensive one. That’s why I often call what I do as “dog training on the cheap”. Because the financial impact of a dog can become immense, I try to keep that cost down for my clients as much as I can. I don’t ask them to buy anything that I don’t think that they will actually need.

When I do make purchase requests, I try to suggest the best pricing option I am aware of. Usually, this means directing people to my Storefront. As an Amazon Affiliate, I am able to populate it with only products I am comfortable with, while I offer you Amazon’s low pricing.

Still, sometimes, cheapest is not always best. If appropriate, I’ll recommend a higher-quality, more expensive item, and then offer a cheaper substitute of lesser (but still acceptable) quality if your budget can’t handle it.

Now, let’s go shopping for your new canine companion!

Read More »Buying Guide for a New Puppy or Rescue Dog – 2019

Beloit Dog Trainer Answers: Is My Dog Smart?

Loki Wanting Belly Pets

Loki Wanting Belly Pets

Raising Puppy Loki was difficult. He had (indeed, still has) what I call “ninja” skills. He had a knack for getting things off shelves without me noticing…until it was too late. I needed a way to prevent this.

(Note: This was before I had learned a whole lot about dog training. I would do things so much differently now. So don’t try this at home.)

Utilizing my much bigger brain, I realized that if I put things in front of the forbidden things, then they would act as decoys. That would enable me catch him before he actually stole the more valuable item.

Lo and behold, it worked!

Out of the corner of my eye, I would see Puppy Loki snatch the decoy and prance off with it. I then chased him down and asked for a “drop it”. (Note: He really liked the chasing part. See a problem here?) Once I retrieved the decoy, I replaced it for the next round, which was sure to come.

I don’t know how many times we did this. I was happy with the way things were going. And, truth be told, I confess I was also a bit proud of the way I outfoxed him.

But then, the pattern suddenly changed. Read More »Beloit Dog Trainer Answers: Is My Dog Smart?

Dog Trainer in Beloit Answers: What’s the Best Gear for Dog Walking?

Morgan on Leash

Morgan wearing a Halti front-clip harness with a long 30′ lead. He’s practicing his “sit” while walking.

If you aren’t doing it already, you should probably be walking your dog. There are benefits for dogs who go on walks beyond just physical exercise. Besides, walks with your canine companions can be lots of fun for you as well as your pup.

Once you’ve committed to taking a jaunt down the street, you will want to make sure you have equipment that is appropriate for the endeavor. From a modern, science-based training perspective, that means you will want to avoid equipment that causes physical or emotional harm. Read More »Dog Trainer in Beloit Answers: What’s the Best Gear for Dog Walking?

Dog Trainer in Beloit Answers: What are Some Benefits of Dog Walking?

Lugh on a Walk

Lugh on a Walk

All I have to do is say, “It’s walkin’ time!”, and my dogs are ready to go. Loki will run out to the front gate and pace until I get there. Lugh will run to the gate, run back to me, run to the gate, run back to me, run back to the gate….until I finally get to the gate myself. I imagine this ritual plays out in about every house where a dog gets a walk. If you don’t walk your dog regularly, you should. There are several benefits a nice thirty-minute walk will bring your dog and you.

What are Some Benefits of Walking a Dog?

Some people don’t walk their dogs because they have a nice, fence-in yard that their dogs can romp in all day long. It’s wonderful when dogs can have such a gift. It’s especially nice if they have someone who can play with them in that space. But playing in an enclosed space is not the same as being out in the world. Consider what it would be like if you had a magnificent house to live in, but you were not allowed to go outside it. It might feel like you are under house arrest. There are certain life-enriching benefits that you simply can’t get in the confined space.

Read More »Dog Trainer in Beloit Answers: What are Some Benefits of Dog Walking?

Dog Trainer in Beloit Answers: How Do I Find a Dog Trainer Who is Science Based?

Me with Sonic

Me with Sonic

Trying to find a dog trainer is serious business. Consider for a moment the significance of the event. You are choosing someone to be your guide with regards to “raising” your dog. Their methods are going to help shape your dog’s life from that point on. You want to find someone who uses an approach that facilitates not just acceptable behavior, but also nurtures your canine companion’s emotional health. Science-based dog training does just that.

Science-based dog training leverages canine learning theory to facilitate a dog’s development. It uses tools (store link to gear) and methods (link to behavior issues page) that target the specific needs of the dog being worked with. I would presume that most dog trainers are in this day and age at least partially informed by the recent research done with dogs. Just because they are influenced somewhat by science doesn’t make a trainer a “science-based” dog trainer. A good, science-based dog trainer will also consider the wider consequences of those tools and methods before using them, as revealed by research. While working with one issue, you don’t want to be developing others.

Before you hire anyone to work with your dog, make sure to ask questions. Here are some that you might find helpful. After you have your answers, you will have to determine whether the trainer meets your standards.

Read More »Dog Trainer in Beloit Answers: How Do I Find a Dog Trainer Who is Science Based?

Dog Trainer in Beloit Answers: How Can I Calm My Stressed Dog?

Lip Licks are a Sign of Stress

Lip Licks are a Sign of Stress

Separation, isolation, loud noises, and even old age. Those are just a few of the many reasons dogs experience stress. Sometimes, stressors are minor. But sometimes human companions want to reduce the stress levels of their stressed dog, because they are concerned about the dog’s health and well-being.

Continuously elevated stress levels can damage a dog. The regular rush of adrenaline through the system can cause digestion issues, arterial damage, and increased susceptibility to disease.  Consider the times that you have been locked into a situation for an extended period of time. Now consider the long-term effects those situations have had on your life. Going beyond that, try to imagine how you might have felt if you didn’t have the more “rational” human brain to help regulate those stress levels. Too much stress can and does cause both physical and emotional damage. As your dog’s guardian, it is important that you consider how you might reduce those stress levels.

Read More »Dog Trainer in Beloit Answers: How Can I Calm My Stressed Dog?

Dog Trainer in Beloit Answers: What are the Benefits of Play for Dogs?

Loki in a Play Bow

Loki in a Play Bow

Loki came into my life as a puppy, a very high-energy puppy. His favorite things were play, play, and more play. He had so much energy, I didn’t know whether I would be able to keep up with him. We played at the dog park. We played in our back yard. We played running around the house (my house goes in a circle, which makes for a never-ending track). It felt like it would never end. Back then, the main thing I wanted was for him to burn energy. I thought that was what play was for. 

Little did I realize at the time how important play was for his developmental process. By playing with Loki as a puppy in a variety of different ways, I was doing much more than just burning energy and having fun. I was actually laying a solid foundation for a well-adjusted, healthy dog. 

Oh, how we loved to play together. As I look back on that time, I can see some of the wonderful side-effects of our playtime had on him. Here are a few.

Read More »Dog Trainer in Beloit Answers: What are the Benefits of Play for Dogs?