Just as with any other type of training you do in your life; working out, studying, practicing an instrument, you need to have fun or you will lose the drive to want to excel. Dog training is the same way. If you don’t find yourself smiling at your dog at least 5 times during your practice session, or laughing out loud at their mistakes, you will not enjoy working on your dog’s behaviors. And if you are not having fun, it can be guaranteed that neither is your dog!
Remember, dog training, whether it be for behavior modification, perfecting known cues, learning something new, or just seeing what your dog wants to do, should always have some moments of fun mixed in with the practicing of the other behaviors. This can be by mixing in a fun trick, adding in a little play session or possibily having a “quiet” moment of bonding and rethinking what your goal is. The possibilities vary and can be countless as each partnership (handler and dog) is different from the next.
So get some treats in your pocket or gather your dog’s favorite toy and get out there and have fun!!
Do not be embarrassed that you can not do it on your own! As with everything in life, sometimes you need a little guidance to help you achieve your goals. When working on behavior modification for your dog, it is vital that you hire a professional you feel comfortable with.
A professional dog trainer should make you and your dog feel at ease and make the training fun.
A professional dog trainer should help you understand why your dog is exhibiting certain behaviors, what the triggers are, and how to redirect your into a positive behavior.
A professional dog trainer will be able to guide you and your family through the overwhelming world of dog psychology so you can better understand why your dog is reacting a certain way.
A professional dog trainer will be able to tell you if private lessons or group classes would be best for your dog.
A professional dog trainer will be able to tell you if the addition of medications such as anti-anxiety medications would benefit your dog’s mental health.
A professional dog trainer will be able to break situations down into something that both you and your dog can understand and help you reach your training goals.
A professional dog trainer should like at the dog’s life as a whole to set a training plan that will be prosperous.
If you find yourself overwhelmed with your dog’s behaviors, not sure how to address them, or unable to reach your goals on your own, search for a certified dog trainer through any of the following organizations: IACP, NADOI, APDT.
As with most things we do in life, being confident plays a very important factor when training your dog. I can not stress this enough to my clients as I see it affect their ability to feel comfortable training their dog. What do I mean by this?
If you are not confident that you are doing the right thing for your dog, whether that be your worry of your timing for their reward, that you are not being clear enough or you are not doing it right, or being too mean, all these will affect the way you interact with your dog leading you down the path of self destruction. When I train a dog, whether it be my own or a clients’, I make sure that I feel wholeheartedly that I am doing the right thing and I am confident with my request for the dog, whether it be asking them to do something new or correcting them for a wrong behavior.
I had a client who was training her Labrador to be a mobility service dog and one of the cues I teach all service dogs is how to “under” which means to go under a chair, table, bench or desk to be out of way of foot traffic whether the client is at work, out to dinner, at the doctor’s office or on public transportation. This particular dog was having difficulty understanding the concept that she had to crawl under the chair and stay there. As with all lessons, I let the owner try several attempts on her own the way she wanted to do it which was bribery for a morsel in her hand. Well, this lab, as shy as she was, found out she could just put his front legs and head under the chair and be rewarded then quickly jet out from under the chair. The owner was becoming quite frustrated and saw her dog’s behavior as a sign that she did not enjoy the task and the owner wanted to give up. However, what I saw was a dog who was nervous and didn’t feel comfortable with the task. But I knew that I was not asking the dog to do anything “mean” or “abusive” and helped her out by guiding her under the chair with a treat in front of her and a gentle, soft pull of the leash and collar. And guess what……she did it on her first attempt with me!
Caleb’s “under” my legs at a local restaurant at 6 months of age
Caleb “under” at 5 months of age
Caleb’s perfect, calm “under” at 5 months of age
Just a couple of pictures of Caleb practicing his “under” at 5 & 6 months old.
This is just one example of how being unsure of what you are doing to/with your dog can possibly hamper their learning abilities whereas being confident in what you are doing/asking can teach your dog (and quite possibly yourself) something new. Don’t be afraid! Stand up for yourself and your decisions that involve your dog’s training, you’ll be amazed at what you both learn!
This video does not show training, but it captured a time where I pushed Caleb to do something because I was confident he could do it. And boy is he proud when he finally picks up the tire and carries it!
I thought I’d share a few places I’ve hiked with my dogs over the past year so you can check them out if you are looking for somewhere new and haven’t been to these places yet. I will try to post a blog with new places once I’ve compiled a few options. If you have any other ones to share in the San Diego area, please feel free to write a comment below.
A very important note to remember whenever you are hiking, be considerate and pick up after your dog and follow the rule that whatever you bring in with you, you carry out with you.
On your way up to Julian, off Hwy 79, is a wonderful open space to hike with your dogs. We went to the east side of the Santa Ysabel Preserve, which hikes you through the rolling hills with open space on either side of you for miles. Warning! There are cows on the trails!!! Be prepared to moooooove over to give them a wide berth if your dog is a little leery of these large creatures. Besides creatures of the bovine family, there are tons of other wildlife to watch such as squirrels, rabbits and birds. Bring plenty of water as it is quite hot out here with little shady spots along the trail to rest in.
Lake Miramar – A great place to bring your dogs to walk as there are plenty of people, bicyclists, fishermen, and other dogs to socialize with. There are two paths you can take around the lake – the higher, paved path, or the lower, dirt path. Make sure you check your dog’s coat for ticks if walking the lower trail as it does take you through some thick brush. The paved trail has very minimal amounts of shade, but there are benches periodically along the 5 mile loop. Warning! There are many ducks and geese at the entrance (by the main bathrooms) so keep a tight hold of your dog’s leash.
The entire hike to Lake Ramona via Blue Sky Trail can be trying for a novice (such as myself lol) as it is an ascent of 450′ with a hellish switchback for the last 1/4 of the hike. If you can make it to the top, as I did, there is a beautiful lake for you to cool off in and reward your dog with a quick dip. However, if you are just looking for an easy walk through nature, you can enjoy the first half of the trail which takes you through a tree lined path. Warning! Be very aware of snakes!! Bring plenty of water as there isn’t any where to refuel as the heat can be brutal for both you and your dog.
There are several trail options to walk around Lake Hodges so you can visit several times and see something different each time. For instance, we have hiked here 5 times and each time we walked a different trail. A nice hike around beautiful water that surrounds you with fresh air and pretty scenery. Warning! Be very aware of snakes!!
Fiesta Island – This is not a nature trail but still a fantastic place to bring your dog for some fun in the sand. Make sure you drive to the fenced in area (noted on map below) to enjoy a completely safe area for your dog(s) to run around off leash if they have a great recall. Dogs are welcome, and encouraged, to swim in the ocean. With such a large, open area of land, there is hardly an incident of dog aggression and everyone has a spectacular time. Bring plenty of water for your dog to drink after as salt water is dehydrating and most dogs like to drink it.