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My dad always hated it when people would identify themselves as “professional dog trainer” or a “pet dog trainer”. His response was, “Do you hear doctors say, ‘I am a professional doctor’?”. And no, you don’t.
On the other side of that, recently a dog owner/obedience competitor walked into the new dog day care that was opening up and was inquiring about my training classes. The woman responding by saying, “I am a dog trainer, I never heard of her.” After a brief exchange, the dog day care discovered that she is deeply involved in competitive obedience and agility with her own dog.
Now the fact that she doesn’t know me is fine and understandable for a few reasons. First, we run in different circles. She is going to obedience classes that teach people to compete with their dogs, which is a wonderful hobby for so many dogs and their owners. Many competitors have turned that love of that hobby and made a living teaching competitors how to compete with their dogs. I teach Every Day Families to Have Once in a Lifetime Dogs. The people I work with have full plates usually kids and careers that the dog plays a different, not less important, just a different role in that owner’s life. The second reason this woman may not know me is that despite the fact social networks have probably decreased everyone’s “Six Degrees of Separation”, is that I don’t know every one that is competes in obedience or agility. Actually, I don’t know most of them. I am either training other people’s dogs or shuttling children to parties, baseball and riding on the weekends. Sometimes I am doing both. If I had no children, I would certainly be at dog shows on the weekends or just training more dogs for families.
However, what I found interesting and would upset my dad, is that this woman claims to be a “dog trainer”. Well, yes, she does train her own dogs but I am not so sure that the American Bar Association would appreciate it if I started calling myself an attorney because I went to court and represented myself. Since I did do my divorce on my own, I wonder what they would say if I said, “I am a divorce attorney”. My friends would think I need medication and have officially lost my mind and anyone else would agree.
Now my daughter is 8 years old and was born with a very rare auto-immune disease. She is also legally blind. What this entails is that on average I spend two months each year in the ER, doctor’s offices, labs having tests and even for several overnight hospital stays. I also administer her medication twice a day which includes 9 different pills each day. Now I know more about my daughter’s disease that many physicians due to the rarity and as one of her endocrinologists said to me many times,, “You need to know more about this than anyone else.” Some doctors or nurses that I may meet at Starbucks, in the library or even in the hospital have never even heard of her disease and until Sarah came along, Cornell Medical Center at New York Presbyterian had not had a patient with it. So, that being said, “Can I say I am a nurse or doctor?” No, but if this girl can be a dog trainer because she trains her own dogs then I can say I am a divorce attorney, doctor and nurse.
Now before you ask, what is your point? my dad use to say, “You have a profession that saves dog’s lives, be proud of it. Don’t demean it by saying, “professional dog trainer”, “pet dog trainer”. You are a dog trainer, plain and simple”. And I say, “I am a dog trainer. I have worked full time providing well for my family Training Every Day Families to Have Once in a Lifetime Dogs.
Many of my friends have put their whole lives into building their career as dog trainers. When we are not training, we are helping people on the phone. When we are home our families have to wait for dinner, attention or help with something because we often have dogs in for training and we have to take care of the dogs first. Many of us trainers have had trouble with relationships because dog trainers work nights and weekends, their partners couldn’t tolerate that. We have put everything into this, please don’t minimize our career. When we stop in the pet store to get dog food, we have to have our game face on because we may run into a student and certainly always need to be on for those in the pet store that refer us for training. Even on our days off, we don’t have the luxury of taking our dog to the vet in our sweatpants and night shirt. And for us a day off means we don’t have lessons. We still have phone calls to return and boarding dogs to walk, train, feed, groom and love.
So for all of you out there that claim to be a dog trainer because you train your own dogs whether it is competitively or to show off to your friends or make a difference in people’s lives, please don’t and I promise that we won’t call ourselves, Doctors, Lawyers or Indian Chiefs.
Paper Training is perfect for apartment dwellers and very small dogs whose owners would prefer to not have to walk their dogs.
I remember one of my clients in Palm Beach had a Havanese. We pad trained her puppy from the beginning and was doing very well. She called me one day panicked because she was heading to Paris and was concerned that during her stay at the luxurious Hotel Plaza Athénée her puppy would have an accident, quite a faux pas, to say the least. HOwever, she called me once she arrived ecstatic that her puppy held it the entire flight, which I am certain was a first class trip, to tell me that as soon as she arrived in her room she put that day’s issue down of Le Monde and he went right on the paper. She jokingly said, “My Cuban dog doesn’t even speak French, we trained him in English and he pees on French papers. I think my friends back in Palm Beach would approve but what do you think the French would say?” I told her not to tell them.
Many owners make the mistake of starting their dog on pads when they really intend to housetrain their dog. I recommend that you make a decision day one as to whether you want a housetrained-one that goes outside, or a pad trained dog. Pad training can be easier to implement but don’t decide half way through that you really want to housetrain your dog.
Dog training is not complicated and pad training is probably the simplest part of training your puppy. Like all training, I like to keep it simple.
You want to find a small area in your home. A small bathroom is ideal. Lay on the floor, wall to wall, pads. Pick one small spot for your puppy’s bed as well as food and water. This way your puppy only has a place to lay down, eat and drink in a very specific spot and only ha the opportunity to go to the bathroom on the pads. It impossible for the puppy to go to the bathroom anywhere else because you will keep a baby gate up across the doorway to the bathroom. This way you set the dog up for complete success without the chance of accidents.
Each week you will make the padded area smaller and smaller by lifting up one pad. This the give the dog less area t relieve himself, while keeping the same amount of area for rest and eating but it also leaves a small amount of flooring available for the puppy. If your dog has an accident, meaning he goes tot he bathroom on the spot where there is no pad, you will want to put a pad back down to make the potty area larger. It is a good idea that when you see your dog circling around looking for a spot, to repeatedly say, “go potty”, “do your business” or whatever it is you want to use as the verbal command.
Many time people will want to give the dog a treat as soon as it goes, research has shown that this is not necessary. Going to the bathroom is self-rewarding behavior. Just as when human go to the bathroom, they feel better from having gone. You can reward the dog by giving it lots of love and praise. Give it some playtime to run around the house for short periods of time, no more than approximately 15 minutes.
As your puppy progresses and becomes more reliable when using the pads, you can slowly build up the amount of free time the puppy gets. However you don’t’ want to jump a huge amount of time free. Build it up slowly, 15 minutes, 25 minutes, and 40 minutes. Just because you dog has been doing well, you don’t want to give it 15 minutes this week and then 40 minutes next week. If you rush the process, you will have more problems and take two steps forward and one step back
As your puppy continues to progress in the training, and you make the padded area smaller, you will be giving the puppy more frequent periods of free time, not just longer periods of free time.
Be consistent and keep it simple and before you know it, you will have a pad trained dog.
YOUR PUPPY’S BEDROOM
The crate is the most important piece of equipment, next to the leash. The crate becomes the dog’s home. It is a safe place and the most helpful tool when it comes to house training. It keeps the puppy from getting into trouble around the house, stops accidents from occurring and another important thing that many people fail to consider is that if your puppy is ever hospitalized they will be placed in a crate for their safety. If they are not use to the crate, they will become very stressed and that hospital stay becomes more difficult for your dog. So it is important to allow them to become use to the crate. You can keep their bed and toys in there. It is their safe space, just like having your own bedroom as a child.
The two most popular crates are the wire crate and the airline crate. There are advantages to each and the differences in price is negligible.
The wire crate is foldable and easy to store or transport even when empty because it folds flat. It can also be much lighter in weight than the plastic style airline crate.
The wire crate is open and some people feel better having their dog in something that is “open” and that the dog can see what is going on around them. Many crates today are very cost effective because they often come with a divider which enables you to make it as small as necessary when it is a young puppy and as the puppy grows in size, you can make it bigger.
Many people mistakenly put the small puppy in a large crate but that creates house training issues which will be discussed in chapter three.
If you are prefer the wire crate the best one to get is one that has a divider and then purchase one that will fit your puppy when they are fully grown.
The other option is an airline crate. If you are purchasing your dog from a breeder who will be shipping the puppy to you, you will most likely receive the appropriate sized crate for the puppy when he arrives. As long as the crate is not over sized, meaning it is not very roomy, you can use the same crate for house training.
The advantage of the airline crate is the fact that you will always have it should the need arise for you to fly with your dog.
Many people like the airline crate because it offers a cool, warm, dark area, is easy to clean and since it is made of a heavy duty plastic when the dog moves around in it, it is not as noisy as a wire crate. The enclosed crate also stays very cool on warm days.
The down side of the airline crate is that should you decide to stop using it for a period of time, it is not as easy to store as a wire crate. It is recommended that you never get rid of your crate permanently as you never know when you will need to use it again. Always keep in mind the ability to store your crate when deciding whether or not to get an airline type crate or a wire style crate.
Unfortunately, diabetes is a rampant health problem affecting dogs of all ages. The suggestions I make here are n0t substitutes for your vet’s advice. These are simply steps I would take to help manage the disease in my dog.
There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 requires daily insulin while Type 2 does not. Excessive water intake, obesity and gluttony are often symptoms of diabetes. Sometimes simply exercising your overweight dog with help control the diabetes with enough weight loss. It is believed that one of the reasons for such a high incidence of diabetes is too much sugar in dog food, along with chemical additives and preservatives.
In addition to exercise, you need to reassess the food you are feeding your dog. You want to lower the calories along with feeding your dog a high-fiber, low-calorie food. You also need a high quality protein in the food. Proteins such as eggs, salmon. Fiber should include rye, barley, oats, rice, millet, quinoa.
There are plenty of nutritional supplements on the market which help as well. For example, chromium supplements with pancreatic enzymes can be fed with their meals. Lecithin, flaxseed oil, B vitamins are all good additions. However, you do not want to add everything at once. Ask your vet for guidance how to incorporate each supplements slowly and methodically.
A blend of essential oils which include eucalyptus, juniper and lemon. This can be massaged into your dog’s ears or placed on its collar.
Four drops of Crab apple and rescue remedy can each be added to 1 ounce of distilled water to create two separate solutions. EAch solution can be added to your dog’s drinking water each day. Four drops of each is the perfect amount. Generally, a treatment can last from five days to two weeks.
These are simply suggestions. None should be considered without the advice of your veterinarian. All of which should be slowly integrated into your dog’s daily routine of feeding and exercise.
When Mrs. Jackson called me, she told me in her sweet Southern drawl that she wanted to paper-train Sugar, her Toy Poodle. She traveled often between Palm Beach and Boston. Her apartment in Boston was across the street from a park, but during a storm she didn’t really want to have to go across the street to walk Sugar. I told her given Sugar’s age of ten weeks, it would be easy. Incidentally if you have an older toy dog that is still not house-trained, paper-training may be a good option for you.
We found a very small powder room that Mrs. Jackson didn’t use often. If you don’t have a separate room, you can simply block off a small area in your bathroom or kitchen. Instead of wall-to-wall carpet, Diva’s new apartment will be wall-to-wall newspaper. There will be a small spot for her bed and water dish. The only place that she will relieve herself will be on newspaper. After all, that is all that is on the floor. How can she go anywhere else? Over time, you will start making the paper area smaller, one small sheet at a time.
If Diva goes on a non-papered area, immediately go back to putting more paper down. Keep going until Diva only goes to the papered area. Give it time, persistence and patience. She will learn it well. However, don’t make the mistake of starting her on news[papers with the thought that once she is older you will then house-train her. Putting papers down will teach her that it is OK to do it in the house.
I remember doing that with Lucy, another Toy Poodle, and her mother was ecstatic.
“We took her to France and as soon as we put paper down for her in the bathroom, she went. She didn’t even care that it was all in French.
JUST DO IT!
When Maxine called me about Deliah, she asked if we could train her Pomeranian to go to the bathroom on command. “I have an apartment in New York City, and it is a nuisance to take her across the street to the park during a blizzard for her to sniff around taking her time to go to the bathroom.”
There is nothing more convenient than teaching your dog to do her business on command. If you live in a city where you must walk your dog instead of letting her out in the yard, it can be difficult when it raining and snowing to have your dog sniff and sniff and sniff until she finds a suitable spot. The do your business command encourages her to go in an expeditious fashion. This also happens to be very easy to teach. Let’s take Diva outside:
1. Allow her to sniff.
2. As she sniffs and circles, say, “Do your business,” “Go make.” “Let’s potty,” or whatever else you would like to call it.
3. As soon as she starts to relieve herself, stop the verbal command.
4. It is not necessary to give her a treat. The reward is in the relief of having gone to the bathroom. Don’t you feel better once you go to the bathroom? Sure you do.
Nutrition and House-Training
Nutrition plays an important role in house-training. Make sure Diva is on a puppy food that is low in sodium. Puppies need to drink a lot of water, and many commercial pet foods have high sodium content, which will make Diva drink more water, increasing her need to urinate. Make sure that the food’s sodium level is not too high for your puppy. This is more common in the supermarket brand foods than the premium foods that use human grade ingredients. Moreover, dog foods that use animal by-products, which means the food consists of clean parts of the animal carcass (necks, feet, and intestines), may increase bowel movement size and frequency.
Whatever method you use for your dog – crate-training, outdoor training, belt-loop training, paper-training – as long as you are patient and persistent, you will successfully house-train your dog. If you have a toy breed, I can’t emphasize it enough: if she isn’t nearly perfect by four months, get professional help. One big mistake people will often make is that they try paper-training, then crate-training, and back to paper-training. That only confuses the issue and the dog. Pick what is easiest for your lifestyle and know you can both do it.
I really need to be better about writing this blog. I have had a few ideas on which I plan on expanding in the next few weeks for blog posts.
Since I last logged in to this account I see I have three blogs from Westminster I have yet to finish so that is now on my never ending To Do list. The coming blogs are:
and the one I have thought about for eons is Cesar Milan and What his Haters Can Learn from Him. This should probably be an actual series and a dissection of his show!
” A lawyer’s time is his stock in trade.” Abraham Lincoln
“So is a dog trainer’s.” Captain Haggerty
I had an owner call me the other day to tell me that my prices were too high! Knowing what other trainers charge my response was, “When you compare, what you get, in the amount of time you receive it, I am best deal in town.” Looking back on it I think it went over her head but let’s look at things this way. What is it that you are going to get for your money?
If trainer A is going to charge you half what trainer B is going to charge you but will take at least twice as long to hopefully get the same results, is it really cheaper!? You have just spent twice as much time and hopefully gotten to the same level of training. The best question to ask a trainer is not just “How much do you charge?” but “What can I expect from my dog after I have spent x amount of money”. If I called a car dealer and said, “I want a car, how much do you charge?” They are going to ask me, “Do you want air conditioning? Sunroof? Hybrid?” I tell them that I just want a car. Well, they can give me a car that will run over 100K miles, has a smooth ride, brakes flawlessly, sunroof, heated seats, reverse camera, air conditioning, DVD players in the back for the kids and all the other bells and whistles. Or they can give me a car that has uncomfortable cloth seats, needs to be serviced every 20k miles or so, constantly needs a part replaced and over time becomes a cash drain only to be replaced in a few short years. At the end of the day, which car was cheaper?
You get what you pay for and my dad use to tell people, “I will give you three options: Fast, good cheap. Pick two.”
Here is another example:
Owner has Golden Retriever Puppy. She calls Trainer A and Trainer B.
Trainer A charges $675 for four lessons. That breaks down to $168.75 per hour. In four lessons, Trainer A tells the owner that at the first lesson her new puppy will be on a complete house training program and as long as she follows it, the accidents will stop immediately and also in that session, her puppy will be walking nicely on a loose leash. The trainer also informs her that at the end of the four sessions her puppy will be housebroken, nipping will have stopped, the dog will be walking nicely on a loose leash, sitting and staying, coming when called, laying down and staying for five minutes with distractions, going to her bed, leaving the room.
Trainer B charges $100 per hour. The first lesson the trainer addresses nipping and house training. The puppy is still nipping after the session. At the second session, the clicker is introduced along with some sit and stays INSIDE her quiet living room. The third session, they work on down with the puppy, again inside the home. The fourth session, they take the puppy outside to walk it on a leash. The fifth session, the puppy is starting to learn to sit outside. The sixth session, the puppy learned how to shake and roll over. The seventh session the puppy now comes goes to her bed and leaves the room on command. After seven lessons the puppy is not sitting and staying outside for three minutes with distractions, neither is she laying down and staying with distractions for five minutes. The puppy is starting to jump up on people so on lesson eight, the trainer now works on sit and stays with distractions.
The Owner spent $800 so far and the dog is not where Trainer A would have gotten it in four and spent $125 less and two hours less of her time. So was Trainer B really cheaper?
“Dog training is a labor intensive business.” Captain Haggerty
A woman with a seven year old German Shepherd with a biting history called me. Her dog had bitten in the past and now it bit a child and she was getting sued. She told me that I should give her a discount because now she was getting sued and it would cost her a lot of money. Before you agree with this woman, put yourself in the trainer’s shoes. When a dog trainer goes out to the home and works with an aggressive dog, that dog trainer is taking the chance of getting bitten. If that trainer gets bitten, it will incur extra expenses that they would not incur with your neighbor’s Yellow Lab six month old puppy. Medical bills. Injury. Out of work to nurse that hand or leg back to health. It is even possible that the trainer can receive such a bad bite that would cause nerve damage and destroy the trainer’s hand for life. What happens when an athlete receives a career ending injury? They are out of work. The same thing for a dog trainer. The only difference is the athlete probably made seven plus figures a year and was able to afford to invest, save a lot of money and have a good disability insurance. Most dog trainers are not in that position. So before you ask a dog trainer to give you a discount to work with your aggressive dog, be grateful that they are not charging you more.
When you shop around for a trainer, BEFORE you ask the charge, ask “What can I expect from my dog after the course is completed?” And I will leave you with this, “The oats are always cheaper after they come out of the horse.” – Captain Haggerty
So here I am at the 133rd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Although I lost my dad’s seats, which I can have at the very good price of $800, I now get to sit with the most influential writers, publishers and editors in the world of dog books and dog writing. My view is almost as good as it once was, but the one that is missing from being next to me is my dad! See his facebook page for some good pictures and a good Captain story that I heard this weekend.
The junior showmanship competition just concluded and now we are on a commercial break! I love watching Juniors and I know that my little Sarah Rosie will possibly be there. She is the dog lover of my children. She loves taking care of my students. My son loves dogs too but is not as interested in taking care and training them as Sarah.
This is a term that is overused but for the sake of a simple solution to what can be a complex problem, I will use that term. In another posting I will address what true separation anxiety is and is not.
Separation Anxiety can manifest itself in many forms: chewing, whining, barking, self-mutilation, howling and diarrhea. Most often this is the reason why dogs are surrendered to shelters. HOwever it is a much easier problem to correct than most realize. Indirectly, good formal obedience training will correct the separation anxiety, or at the very least, decrease the intensity and frequency. However, good training takes time and until you are able to get Rover into a training class, I suggest that you start implementing a complete multi-faceted program of rehabilitation.
First and foremost, get a crate in which Rover will feel comfortable. I always recommend an airline crate because if you find it necessary to go out of town by plane, you already have the correct crate for your trip. Start feeding Rover in the crate as it will help him adjust and learn to like the crate much better than he does now. Keep his bones and toys in the carte as well. Set it up to become his bedroom.
Make sure that your dog is on a premium diet. Foods that are high in sugars or undigestible ingredients such as corn. The money that you spend on a premium dog food will be offset by the savings in veterinary bills and destroyed items in your home.
Another key component is exercise. Different dogs needs different types of exercise. You don’t want to take your dog running his first time out for five miles. Just like you have to build your endurance, so does he. Start out slowly, If you have a young puppy, under 10 months, you may want to consider only running him on grass so that the impact is more absorbed and less difficult on his joints.
Running is one form of exercise but so is obedience training or trick training. When you train your dog to do things, you are challenging them mentally, physically and emotionally. Dogs need those three things to become balanced and happy dogs. Mental stimulation is an integral part to any dogs life. They need to be challenged, otherwise they can become restless and bored. I remind owners that it is similar to being out of work for a week sick, you start to go a little stir crazy and look forward to the mental and social stimulation at work. Physical exercise and stimulation teaches them to use their body, builds confidence and helps them to relax thereby decreasing the chances of separation anxiety.
The mental and physical stimulation helps balance their emotional well-being because they are becoming more confident, understand you and their surrounding world more easily. They enjoy the challenge of learning while decrease the frustration level they may have from being bored and not having any type of interaction or challenging work.
Teaching your dog tricks are a great way to exercise your them. A nice fast paced walk before you leave them alone can be very effective. Purchase a back pack and weigh it down with water bottles. Take them for a brisk walk in the heel position which requires more “work” than a walk where they can stop and sniff everything. Ask any soldier and they will tell you, marching in sync with your fellow soldiers creates unity, structure, exercise and is actually mentally and physically challenging, despite how “easy” it may look. By forcing your dog to “march in sync” with you, you are also challenging them in the same ways.
If your dog is suffering when you leave for the day, make sure that they are safely confined in their crate. I recommend exercising them throughly before you leave. It could be a strict formal heel exercise for about 30-45 minutes, a session of teaching or practicing all sorts of tricks or even practicing obedience skills. Another great energy burner is what I call puppy pushups. A rapid succession of the sit and down exercises back to back.
You can also play fetch with a huck toy or get them a game cube that they can push around until the kibble comes out while they are in the kennel. Another great option is a good bone that they like to chew to keep them amused.
REscue Remedy which can be found at any health food store is also a practical and safe supplement to add to their drinking water or put a drop on their tongue before you leave. It soothes and calms them. Lavender oil can also be massaged on the inside of their ears to help relax them when they are left alone.
Any complete rehabilitation program is effective. The key is consistency and that program must include: training, exercise, proper nutrition, play time and even supplements such as flower remedies. Be patient, this is not a problem that developed overnight and it will take even longer to rectify the problem