Pooch Pawsitive Dog Training - Puppy Jumpstart, Group classes, private lessons, behavior counseling, dog walking
Recommended Reading for puppies:
Recommended Reading for dogs of any age:
Recommended Magazines and newsletters:
- Culture Clash, by Jean Donaldson
- Don't Shoot the Dog, by Karen Pryor
- The Power of Positive Dog Training, by Pat Miller
- Whole Dog Journal. Monthly guide to natural dog care, health, nutrition and training.
- The Bark. Bi Monthly magazine of modern dog culture.
Q: What's the big deal about being 'positive?' I've trained dogs before with prong collars and it worked just fine.
A: Dog training originally started in the military where severe punishment methods were used. A dog (or any species for that matter) will respond to an aversive to get the aversive to stop. Usually what happens is that the dog will stop the behavior (or shut down) to get you to you stop the punishment. Punishment suppresses the behavior (and it 'looks' like he's trained), but it doesn't teach the dog what he should do instead.
In the past 20 years, there has been a lot of scientific research in the fields of psychology, animal learning and training that shows that we can get our dog's full cooperation by rewarding the behavior we like and ignoring, or redirecting, the behavior we don't like. Reward-based training builds the relationship you have with the dog and you get his happy cooperation!
Q: If you're 'positive', what do you do when a dog does something that you don't like? How do you correct the dog?
A: I have to look at myself first and ask if I've trained him enough to do the right thing in the first place! Chances are the dog isn't fluent on the behavior. Training takes time, patience and lots of practice! Humans go to school for at least 12 years, we should give our dog more than 7 weeks in a puppy class to start to 'get it'!
After I'm certain that the dog is fluent in the behavior, and then he doesn't do it...then the worst thing that happens is the dog doesn't get the reward! (Oops! Too bad for you!) Believe me, the dog learns in a hurry that that behavior didn't work!
Q: Why should I use food to reward my dog? Won't he just work for praise?
A: Reward-based training uses 'rewards' for doing the correct behavior. A 'reward' is anything that the dog wants at that moment. Food is just one of many rewards that a dog could want. It's easier for us to use food in training because it usually motivates every dog and is transportable! But at home, you can use all kinds of things as rewards: giving his dinner, throwing the tennis ball, going for a walk, etc., as long as the dog thinks it's rewarding!
As for praise, dog's generally don't work for praise. (People may work for praise for a short time, but eventually you will want a paycheck! Let me ask you how you would feel if you just got a pat on the back at work instead of a paycheck?!) People work for money and dogs work for food!
Q: My 14 week old puppy plays with his older brother/sister dog at home...he gets plenty of dog socialization. Why should my puppy go to Puppy Playgroups?
A: Young puppies are learning social communication skills and boundaries, including how to use their mouth nicely (called bite inhibition). Older dogs have probably learned bite inhibition already and won't give a young pup the correction that they need to learn not to bite hard.
Puppies have sharp teeth, but no muscle in the jaw and can nip at each other and not hurt each other. Puppies playing with puppies of a similar age will give each other a needed correction. We want pups to learn bite inhibition before they get their adult teeth (around 6 months of age.) Come to our Puppy Playgroup!
Q: Should I bring my 18-week old puppy to the Dog Park for socialization?
A: No! During a puppy's tender socialization period (up to 20 weeks of age) they are sponges for every kind of experience, both good and bad. I'd rather see a pup go to supervised Puppy Playgroups where it's a safe, controlled environment until he's 6 months old. By then he'll be socialized and have experience handling any rude behavior that may occur by the dogs at the dog park. The worst thing that can happen is that some other dog at the park frightens your puppy...we don't want you pup to be scared of other dogs for the rest of his life!
Q: My 16 week old puppy is aggressive! He's biting me and everyone in the family!
A: Congratulations! You have a normal, teething puppy! Up until they get their adult teeth at about 6 months, they will try to nip, bite and chew everything because their gums and teeth are sore! They are also exploring their new world with their mouth. It's important to give your dog legal chew toys -- stuffed Kongs and raw meaty bones are a good alternative to keep your pup happy and chewing something appropriate, and not you!
Q: My dog is 5 years old. Is it too late to train him?
A: Well, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks...it just takes a bit longer! If you know what motivates your dog, and you're willing to put some time into it, then you have a good chance of changing your dog's behavior! It's harder to undo bad behavior that's been going on for years, rather than teaching your pup what the right thing to do is in the first place! I trained my husband's then 8 year old Beagle to Come! If you notice a new bad behavior starting, get on top of it right away with some training before it becomes your dog's new bad habit!