Heidie, JR and Bella
sit pretty for a photo.
Welcome 2017! January always seems to be a month of quiet reflection at our home. As cold winter winds blow outdoors, I review the past year and begin plans for the year to come. But much as I love to sit quietly, my three dogs have other ideas. They are full of pent up energy from being indoors all day because our current cold, blustery weather is not very welcoming to their tiny bodies and a bored dog is a mischievous dog! Mine love to sneak into the trash can, chew up newspapers or stand at the window and bark, bark, bark. It’s as if three little whirling dervishes have moved into the house.
If you live with a dog, you may have had some of the same experiences. Throughout my years of obedience training dogs in an animal shelter setting, I found that teaching a dog good manners can be a simple, fun activity. Dogs really do want to learn and benefit from having their brains, as well as their bodies, exercised. Unfortunately, many dogs end up in shelters or rescues due to their poor social skills when it’s so easy to introduce manners to any dog, no matter what their age.
I am an advocate of positive training methods which is a long way of saying that I use the ‘yummy treat’ method. These treats are special, ones that your dog loves, so special that they are only used when training is occurring. No matter what treats you decide to use, just make sure that they are small and easily eaten. We don’t want Fido so invested in chewing that he forgets to pay attention to you!
Next up is to get the whole family on board with the training program. Everyone should use the same command word and use the same training method. You can get the ball rolling by starting with the two easy ‘tricks’ I’ll be sharing, then teach the rest of the family. By involving everyone it will teach Pup she must listen to all members of the family, not just the ‘top dog’.
What will you be teaching your dog? We’ll start with ‘sit’ and ‘shake hands’. Training sessions should be short, 5 to 10 minutes. It’s easy to incorporate training into your day. Getting breakfast in the morning? Feeding the dog? Opening the door to go outside? ‘Sit, Pup!’ Putting on make-up? Watching television? Guests at the door? ‘Sit, Pup!’ Yes, it’s really that easy.
Let’s start with ‘sit’. Take the yummy treat in your right hand and move your hand slowly over your pet’s head. No words yet, just the hand movement. As soon as Fido’s rear hits the floor…..YES!! and treat! Woo-Hoo…it’s a party! Because great things happen when butt hits the floor! Do this two or three times, just enough to keep Pup interested but not enough to get boring. Gradually switch it up by varying the amount of time Pup must sit to get the treat, sometimes short, sometimes long. When Pup sits reliably as your hand moves over his head, add the ‘sit’ command and become a treat slot machine…sometimes give treats, sometimes not….eventually phasing the treats out completely. This is one of the most important things you will ever teach your dog and you can visit: http://www.trainyourdogmonth.com/tips/25UsesSit.aspx
for 25 uses for the sit command in your everyday life.
Next, the ‘shake’ command. Get one of those yummy treats and hold it tightly in your hand. Put your hand on the floor and when Pup paws your hand to get the treat…’YES’!! and treat…it’s another party!! Gradually lift your hand off the floor and add the verbal ‘shake’ command as Pup touches your hand. Phase the treat out and you’ve got it!
These two commands will provide both mental and physical stimulation for your dog which will calm her, instill confidence in her and deepen the bond between you. Talk about a win/win situation!
Did I mention that January is National Train Your Dog Month? What better time to start! So grab those treats, arm yourself with endless ‘Good Dog’ praise and prepare to watch your dog blossom as he becomes a well-mannered member of the family.
Thank you for joining me, see you next month!
- Jeanna Billings
Jeanna Billings is an Animal Communicator serving an international clientele, a Reiki Master and a Certified Crystal Healer. She volunteered for many years with humane societies and animal rescues, serving as a Board Director, Adoption Counselor and Humane Educator. She currently teaches animal communication classes and provides private consultations. She lives in Indiana with her husband, three dachshunds, two cats and a very chatty parakeet. You can find her online at www.ShamansSpirit.net .