As a Columbus dog trainer for 14 years and owner of Greg Knows Dogs, I am still amazed how my dog training methods help me to see a major change in dogs in the first lesson. In fact, some of my customers think I cast a spell on the dogs or have a magic wand! I always end the lesson with something like this…“Your dog is going to take a nap from working so hard with us. He’s going to wake up and think he’s had a bad dream and is ready for things to get back to the way they were.”
The key to dog training is consistency and communication. I teach you how to communicate with your dog so that he understands what you are saying. Although dogs come to understand certain words in English, when you speak in a language your dog understands and combine this communication with body language, you will be successful in your dog training efforts.
Once I leave a client’s house after a lesson, the process of training your dog needs to continue. Here are some tips to keep you on track. You need to practice your training exercises every day to get the best results.
- Establishing yourself as the “leader”. Remember your dog needs to see you as the “pack leader” (or “boss” or whatever word you want to use). Otherwise, he will try and take control and think you are an equal. He prefers to learn from you and have rules so he will feel more secure. You will need to be leader-like and consistent. I don’t mean being physical with your dog. Use authoritative voice tones. Your dog will regularly test you and you need to win every time. If you keep reinforcing good behavior, your dog will learn to follow your new rules and behave the way you want.
- Reinforcement is Important. If you are correcting your dog and he shows signs of yielding, reinforce his response by leading him to the right behavior, then praising him. Praising is very important and should be done the minute your dog displays the behavior you want. If you don’t praise your dog, you are missing a golden opportunity for your dog to understand exactly what you want.
- Once you have praised your dog, practice the behavior again until your dog learns door manners, not to jump up, not to bark at the doorbell, etc. You should keep repeating the same exercise until you are guiding and praising your dog for the right decision.
- Set up temptations to misbehave. If you are distracted, your dog is distracted. If you are in a rush, don’t use this time to try and train your dog. The minute you let your dog get away with his bad behavior, he will revert and test you. Set up the opportunity to misbehave when you are ready to teach him.
- Do your homework. I leave clients with a series of exercises to ensure success. The exercises are designed specifically for each client. I recommend doing the exercises several times each day at different times of day, in different places, etc.
Practice will pay off because you will have a happier dog who knows the rules. Remember your dog wants to please you – he just doesn’t know how until you show him!
Although February brings National Walk Your Dog Day, the weather in Columbus has been so cold it feels more like Keep Your Dog Inside Month.
This past weekend I saw lots of folks out enjoying a walk with their dog. The snow has melted, the salt has rinsed away and it was finally above 45 degrees! Actually, I think I saw more dogs enjoying the walks than humans enjoying walks. It seems lot of dogs had pent up energy and had forgotten to walk nicely.
There are a number of things we should consider as we get back to our regular dog walking routine:
Do you have a 2018 dog tag on your dog’s collar?
Have you checked your walking equipment? Make sure the collar fits and the leash is not worn thin. If you use a retractable leash, check the entire length to make sure it’s not frayed.
Is it time for new walking equipment? Should you consider a harness, Gentle Leader or Halti?
Are there “mean” dogs on your walking route? You might want to get a can of PetSafe SprayShield. It’s a citronella spray that distracts an attacking dog.
Here are some other tips for walking your dog correctly from #GregKnowsDogs:
- Never let your dog walk in front of you so you will be viewed as the pack leader.
- Using a 6’ leash allows you better control of your dog.
- Let your dog explore and sniff around.
- Always pick up your dog poop.
- Make sure to bring plenty of water for your dog.
- Watch out for ice in the winter (and salt) and hot pavements in the summer.
- Wear reflective gear if you are walking your dog at night.
I recommend walks to heel, not just a walk with minimal pulling. Call me at 614-859-0612 if you need help getting your pooch to walk nicely by your side. I also recommend you start with short, focused walks as you get back into your routine. Happy trails and tails!
Have you ever been bitten by a dog? Hopefully you could identify the dog so you did not have to go through the pain of rabies shots.
If you haven’t been bitten by a dog, you’re actually in the minority. There are more than 52,000,000 dogs in the United States alone. Approximately one-third of all homes have a dog as a pet. So it’s not surprising that according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, more than 4.5 million people a year are bitten by dogs, with one in five people requiring medical attention.
Dog bites with children are a big problem, causing more health problems than measles, mumps and whooping cough combined! Believe it or not, they are more common than injuries from bike accidents, playground injuries, mopeds, skateboards or ATVs. In fact, 50% of children will be bitten by a dog before their 12th birthday. Why? Because small children are often the same height as a dog and tend to push and pull on the dog thinking they are being playful.
Dog Bite Prevention Tips
Here’s some tips that will help you and/or your child to stay safe:
- Ask owners if you can pet their dog.
- Avoid dogs you don’t know.
- Never leave a child or baby alone with a dog.
- Never reach over a fence to pet a dog as the dog may bite to protect his territory.
- Allow the dog to initiate touching and play. Don’t bother him when he’s in his crate, eating or sleeping.
- Don’t approach a dog if he is busy feeding or playing with her puppies. She might become defensive.
- Don’t tease dogs.
- If you’re threatened by a dog be calm and still. Running, screaming and hitting can escalate the situation. Avoid eye contact.
The most likely place for a dog attack to occur is in the home of the victim. The second most likely place is at the home of a friend of the victim. Seventy-seven percent of biting dogs are owned by the victim’s family, a relative or a friend of the family.
Does Your Dog Bite?
As a Columbus dog trainer, I have visited the homes of many clients whose dogs have a biting problem. This is the type of destructive behavior my 11 years of training can help you overcome. I have seen many pet owners think that their dog will not bite or harm a child, only to discover they were wrong. This is particularly true for owners who engage in rough play with their dog. Inadvertently, they may be setting him up to play roughly with others who might not recognize the behavior as play. Remember that even the sweetest dog can bite of provoked.
Call me to take the bite out of your dog! 614-859-0612