New Foster Puppy ~ Meet Dora!

Meet Dora, a 15lbs, 12/13 week old black lab/shepherd mix of some kind. She is the only female and the runt of her litter of 4 who came to Mutts Matter Rescue when she was 8wks old. She is currently looking for her forever home, could that be you?

Dora

Dora

Dora, is a super sweet and super smart little girl who will do almost anything for food! She is a dream to work with and train because of her motivation to work for food. Dora is already potty trained, crate trained, and knows how to “Sit,” “Touch” (touches her nose to the palm of your hand), “Down” and is even learning “Paw” which we may change to a “High-Five” behavior if she’s with us long enough.

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Speaking of food, Dora is a VACUUM. She gobbles down her food so fast you question if you had even fed her at all. She is now eating her food strictly out of food dispensing “busy” toys. This is to help slow her eating process down while also enriching her ever growing mind.

Dora is a FANTASTIC cuddle buddy. She loves to curl right up next to you on the couch for a good nap, and if you’ll let her, she’s be sleeping in bed with you every night as well. Currently she is sleeping through the night on a dog bed that is on the floor in the bedroom.

108If you are interested in adopting Dora,  please go to Mutts Matter Rescue and fill out an adoption application.

 

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.

Training Tip Tuesday ~ Grooming Part 1: Brushing

Recently I had the pleasure of having a long-haired Clicker Savvy Foster (Sabrina) in the house. It reminded me that not many people know the importance of early preparations for puppies/dogs who will need to be groomed on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. With that being said, if you have a dog that will need to be brushed nightly to help avoid hair matting, start early!  If you get the dog as a puppy, begin to pair the brush with positive reinforcement such as treats, chews, toys or attention and praise. Fortunately for me, while she was here, Sabrina wanted nothing more than to be loved on by people.  Her favorite type of reward was attention. As long as we were giving her attention she couldn’t care less as to what else was happening.  With that being said, every night I would spend a couple minutes just giving her all the love and praise in the world with one hand while I would gently brush her with the other. **Note: For puppies, it might be wise to do this when they are good and tired.**

Sabrina was what I would consider an easy case.  At just 3 and half months she was a very calm puppy. Other dogs will need a little more distraction or a higher valued reward to accept brushing or combing. That’s OK. Here’s an example: If you have a dog who likes peanut butter, take a spoon with peanut butter on one end and hold it out for the dog to lick while you brush the dog with the other hand. When the peanut butter is gone then the session is over. You want to take baby steps and continue pairing good things with brush time. The benefit is that you are teaching the dog that while being brushed good things happen and yummy treats keep coming. Eventually your dog will make the connection and hopefully begin to enjoy brush time.

In the next couple of weeks, we will talk more about other aspects of grooming such as bathing, ear cleaning and nail clipping… stay tuned.

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?”

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.