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.

Just like that, Sabrina is Adopted!

We have come to notice when fostering in my house that our foster pups don’t stay with us very long. It’s both good and a bad at the same time. First the bad (and it’s not really even bad at all): I feel like I’m just getting to know the dogs well enough and they are finally getting into a rhythm with us. They start to learn the rules of the house and get into a daily schedule, which makes things much easier for us. Then they are gone! Also, being a trainer, sometimes I wish I had a little more time to teach them a few more things before handing them off to their new forever homes. Plus…I.Just.Love.Dogs. Having one more in the house (once they start to get the hang of things) just feels right. Shhh… don’t tell my husband.

The good part though, is that the dog gets to go to their forever home that much faster! My house is only a transition from the dreadful life they had before to an amazing life they will have after and that is OK. I truly am happy for all my foster dogs when they go home! It’s a bittersweet feeling and hard to explain unless…well…you’ve done it too. With all that being said let’s get back to my most recent foster Sabrina!

Sabrina was picked up this past weekend by her new mom K and one of her new human sisters. They were wonderful people and were so excited to take Sabrina home. They had been previously approved by Mutts Matter Rescue and were just waiting for the right dog to come along. Sabrina is going to live with her new parents, 3 human siblings (two brothers and a sister) and a doggy sister too. They explained how they live on a huge property that contains a plant nursery and that Sabrina would have not 1 but 3 ponds(!!!) that she could play in! I couldn’t help but to think how perfect this would be for her since just days ago when we had that 90+ degree day in MD, Sabrina figured out it was super cool to play in her water dish and lay in the mess fresh water to cool herself down. She is going to be SUCH a water dog, just like her new doggy sister Carly (who is a lab mix).

Sabrina and I the morning before she left to go to her forever home. 🙂

Couldn’t be happier for this darling girl and can’t wait to get updates from her family about how much she’s growing and how well she is settling in.

Are you interested in adding a dog like Sabrina to your family? Visit Mutts Matter Rescue and check out some of their adoptable dogs.

Training Tip Tuesday ~ It’s what you DO want

When it comes to addressing your dogs behavior problems most people tend to think of it like this: “My dog jumps on me all the time, I don’t want my dog to jump on me anymore.” We automatically think about what we don’t want our dog to do and this makes the solution to the problem seem much more difficult than it needs to be. Of course you don’t want your dog to jump on you, but what do you want your dog to do?

The first step in fixing a problem that you don’t want your dog to do (jumping, barking, chewing, pulling on the leash, etc.) is to think what you do want your dog to do instead. I know, you’re thinking “can it really be that simple?” Yes, it can be! For the dog who jumps on you when you come home, what do you want your dog to do instead? Let’s say you want a dog that comes up to you and sits to say “hi” and get your attention. Perfect! Now you know what you need to train in order to fix the problem. You need to teach your dog that sitting for attention works better than jumping up for your attention.

If you approach each problem behavior with the same mind set, “what do I want my dog to do instead of (insert annoying behavior here)?” Then the solution will be much clearer and easier to work on.

Old man Brewer knows all about what to DO!