Training Tip Tuesday ~ Introducing the “Scary” Vacuum

For many puppies and adult dogs a like, the vacuum can be a very scary thing. It’s weirdly shaped, vary loud, and moves in frantic forward and backward motions. Since we vacuum regularly on the weekends in my household, I knew that I had to start introducing the “scary” vacuum to the new foster puppies ASAP. If you take the time from the very beginning and slowly introduce the vacuum to your new dog, it’ll be less stressful for the dog when the time comes to actually flip the switch and get the job done.

Step 1: Introducing the vacuum. When you first introduce the vacuum to your dog, you want to do it while it’s stationary and turned OFF. Maybe practice some basic behaviors in the same room as the vacuum and let the dog investigate it while positively rewarding the dog with yummy treats.

Investigating the big weird yellow thing

Investigating the big weird yellow thing (First introduction with the vacuum OFF)

Step 2: Moving the vacuum. Once the dogs seem to be comfortable around the vacuum. You’ll want to start to move it (again still keeping it turned OFF). What I did with my current foster dogs (pictured above) was walk around my house with the vacuum turned OFF while tossing them treats at the same time. In no time the pups thought it was an awesome game. When the vacuum moves we get treats!!

Step 3: Turning ON the vacuum. Going back to having the vacuum stationary. You want to flip the vacuum ON for a second or two while simultaneously give treats (very generously). Once you switch the vacuum OFF, treats stop. So it’s Vacuum ON: Treat, treat, treat. Vacuum OFF: No treats. You want to repeat this step several times until your dog is happily waiting for treats when the vacuum is switched on. You also want to vary the time you have the vacuum switched into the ON position. At first 2 or 3 seconds, then 10 seconds, then 5 seconds, then 20 seconds, then 7 seconds then 30 seconds…. and so on. *Note: Another option could be giving your dog a stuffed Kong or a very high value treat (like a bully stick) to chew on when the vacuum is switched ON.*

What is that noise? Gypsy investigates further as Bandit eats some treats.

What is that? Gypsy investigates further as Bandit eats some treats.

Step 4: Moving the vacuum while turned ON. Once your dog seems comfortable and happy with the vacuum being switched ON and stationary, you then want to begin to move the vacuum around the house while in the ON position. Again, every time the vacuum is in the ON position you are tossing treats like there is no tomorrow. Like in step 3, you want to take baby steps in the amount of time the vacuum is ON and moving. You want to slowly build up your time vacuuming. Start out with a few seconds, then few minutes (or maybe one small room of the house) at a time and then gradually increase as your dog becomes more and more comfortable. *Note: This whole process may take a few days/weeks so be patient and go at your dogs pace. You want to make sure this is a positive and fun experience for you pup. Start out by vacuuming small portions of your house each day. Depending on your dog in a few days/weeks you can be back to vacuuming your entire house in the same day.*

Luckily, our young foster puppies took  to this vacuum thing fairly quickly. It only took them a little more than a week to get used to the vacuum and by the end of the second week I was able to vacuum the entire house while the pups lay quietly on a dog bed enjoying a delicious stuffed Kong.

What ways do you help your dog feel more comfortable around new “scary” things?

Gypsy and Bandit (both pictured here) are available for adoption through Mutts Matter Rescue.  If you are interested in adopting one (or both) of these cuties please visit the Mutts Matter Rescue page and fill out an adoption application.

Photo Friday ~ Anxiously Waiting

Watching dad mow the lawn and anxiously waiting to go outside to play in the fresh cut grass!

Can we go outside yet mom, we wanna go NOW!

***Side note: They are panting heavily because prior to dad mowing the grass they were playing fetch with him outside.***

Training Tip Tuesday ~ To Train or Not to Train?

Sometimes as a trainer we get called to a client’s home for some of the darnest things. When it comes to problem solving or fixing a dogs bad habit I always ask myself “is this something that would be easier to train or to prevent?” Seems like a silly question to ask when you’re a trainer, but sometimes the answer might be different than we expected. So the question is…“to train or not to train?” Let me try to explain…

For example, one of the hardest things to “train” is a dog NOT to jump on the counter. Countersurfing is one of those things that can easily and accidentally be rewarded by one tiny mistake of leaving even a single crumb on the counter. Humans aren’t perfect and well sometimes we forget to clean up after ourselves or we make a sandwich and the doorbell rings and the next thing you know the dog has just gotten reinforced for jumping on the counter eaten your delicious lunch. It only takes one time for a dog to jump up, get something yummy and then continue to check the counter for the rest of his natural life. With odds like that, training a dog not to jump on the counter is more difficult and time consuming. It takes more discipline for us humans to remember everything we aren’t supposed to do than for us just to prevent future issues.

So we ask: “To train or not to train?” In this situation, I would explain that one of the easiest ways to help solve the problem could be to baby gate the kitchen and prevent the dog from having access to the counter. I usually picture a light bulb over my clients head as they smile at me and say… “I never thought about that!” 🙂

Long story short, when you have a dog who has a problem, think about what would be the most practical option… “to train or not to train?”

Photo Friday ~ Breakfast Jug

Almost every morning I fill this up with kibble for my dogs breakfast.

Mmmm... breakfast kibble.

Every morning Bailey adamantly works at it to get the kibble out.

He drags it...

Paws at it...

And picks it up and drops it...

While Brewer patiently waits for dropped pieces of kibble and for Bailey to finish. Then it’s his turn but Brewer tends to take a different approach.

First he paws at it to get it in the perfect position...

Then he gets comfortable and then while holding the rope with one paw...

Brewer turns, twists and tips the jug with his other 3 paws till...

The jug is empty and both boys are happy, full and starting to get sleepy…

All gone, I think I'll settle for a nap, what about you Brewer...

You go ahead Bailey, I've gotta clean my face first!

What are some creative ways you feed your dog his meals during the day? Let us know and leave a comment!

Training Tip Tuesday ~ Don’t Repeat the Cue

Ever find that sometimes you sound like a broken record when cuing your dog to do a specific behavior?

You ask: “Fido, Sit…”

Dog: {looking at you inquisitively}

and before he gets a chance to

You continue: “Sit…Sit…Sit”

Dog: {Sits}

 

This is a common issue among many owners. We are people of habit, and habits are hard to break. But guess what? Dogs are smart and they are quick to pick up on those habits and small patterns that form when we are asking behaviors from them. Dog’s will learn that they don’t have to “Sit” the first time you ask because you will ask exactly 3 more times “Sit…Sit…Sit” before the dog has time to perform the behavior. Before you know it, yes you’ve taught your dog to “Sit” but only after you repeat the cue 4 times.

"Sit"

How you can fix it: This is more of a problem that we the owners have to fix for ourselves. The next time you cue your dog “Sit” give the dog time to process what you’ve asked and perform the behavior. If he does, GREAT! Reward with treats or lots of praise for doing it correctly. If he doesn’t, reset the dog (walk him nicely over to a different area) and try the cue again. You will find that this will be harder for you to remember not to repeat the cue, than it is for the dog to learn to perform the cue the first time you ask.