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Renee PremazaPhone: 609-280-9338Email: renee@JerseyDogTrainer.com

PREVENT DOGS FROM GETTING LOST – PART 2

Prevent Dogs From Getting Lost – Part 2

If you haven’t read Part 1 of my article, scroll down and read that first. Part 2 is a discussion of how to get your dog to come to you every time you call him. But let me remind you that you can never call your dog and then holler, or tell her she’s bad for having gotten out! I can’t stress that enough!. Your dog needs to develop complete trust in you so he doesn’t ever feel afraid of being punished when returning to you, even if he’s been gone for hours. Also, make sure you practice, practice, practice these games a lot. Practice makes perfect. However, if he’s gotten out, even once, she’s been reinforced for getting out, and will eventually escape again given the opportunity (gates left open, jumping the fence, digging holes underneath the fence, etc.). You need to keep a close eye on your dog whenever she’s outside

The following are some games/exercises that I want you to play with your dogs as often as possible. You should play them minimally once, preferably twice a day when you first start training. As your dog improves with each of these games, you can play a couple times/week. Sometimes play one of the games, and then switch to another game to keep your dog practicing coming each time she’s called:

GAME #1 – GO FIND IT RECALL GAME 

Show your dog a treat, and then say “Go Find It” as you toss that treat on the floor away from the dog. At first, don’t toss it too far because you want the dog to learn what this game is all about. As soon as she eats the treat, call him back by saying “come” or “here” or my favorite word, “Com’ere.” Use your party-voice whenever you call your dog back to you — ALWAYS!  Make sure to praise him up and applaud her when she comes back to you! Then quickly toss another treat somewhere else, keeping your dog fully engaged in this game of returning back to you.

Once your dog understands what you’re doing, begin tossing the treats further and further away so you can call her back from further distances.  You should play this in several different locations inside your house. This is a fun hunting game as well as a fun recall game. Dogs love it!!

GAME #2 – PUPPY IN THE MIDDLE RECALL GAME

Start out standing just a few steps from the person you’ll be playing this game with.  One person calls the dog to him with a happy word (e.g, “com’ere”), by luring him a treat.  When the dog gets right in front of that person, he praises and gives that treat as a reward for coming.  The second person then calls the dog and repeats this same process.  When your dog gets really good at coming to each of you, (1) start increasing the distances between you and your partner a little bit at a time when you’re calling the dog back to you; (2) put that treat lure behind your back now, and bring it out only when your dog returns to each of you. 

GAME #3 – RECALL TRAINING OUTSIDE USING A LONG-LINE

Anytime you train your dog outside, make sure to use high-value food rewards (e.g., cooked bits of chicken, smelly cheese, tiny cooked meatballs, etc.). Put your dog on a 15-20 foot nylon long line (most pet supply stores carry these). Do not use a flexi-leash! Take a walk with your dog out in your backyard (if you don’t have a backyard work on this at a park or other safe area where you have some room to walk around holding that line).  Give your dog plenty of line to allow him to wander away. Don’t pull on it at all. Randomly call your dog over to you, praise with your party-voice and reward him for coming treating her with those high-value treats. Switch directions as you walk around. Sometimes walk in large circles and then smaller ones.  Walk at a slow pace at first, and use your happy recall word.

GAME #4 – TEACH YOUR DOG TO COME RACING TO YOU IN YOUR HOUSE

Some dogs will recall right to the backdoor and then get a treat. But once some of those dogs have gotten the treat, off they go again 😉 This exercise will teach him that coming directly into the house is where the good stuff is. But you will need someone else to help you who can do a little bit of running. Also, everyone in your family needs to practice this so your dog knows to come to all of you when called.

Put the dog on your 15-20 foot long line. Make sure you have plenty of your high-value food rewards in your pocket. Give your dog one of those treats right before you begin working with him.

You should be standing close to your backdoor, but not at the door YET. Your assistant should begin by taking the dog to various places in your yard not too far from where you are standing. Call your dog to you using your designated recall word and your party-voice. If your dog doesn’t begin to come, have your assistant start running toward you holding the loop of that long-line and encouraging the dog to run with her. When your dog does reach you, give lots of praise and offer a treat.

Then your assistant takes the dog to a different spot in the yard. Have your assistant take her to places where she likes to dig or to look for squirrels. Once your dog understands that you’re giving him scrumptious food rewards, she’ll begin to look in your direction and will start running on her own to get to you.

Once your dog is running happily over to you, and your assistant no longer needs to hold onto the long-line, you can now place yourself right inside your backdoor holding the door open. Practice again calling your dog from various areas in the yard. Always offer a treat now right at the backdoor.

The last part of this exercise consists of your recalling the dog right inside the backdoor. Start playing the GO FIND IT game, and toss one treat at a time all over the floor inside for at least 15 seconds. Quickly close the backdoor as soon as she’s in that room. Once she’s found all the treats, let him right back outside again to continue practicing recalling her back inside.

Make sure to practice this game a lot. Your dog will eventually learn to trust you not to make all her fun end every time she is called into the house!

 

 

 

Prevent Dogs From Getting Lost – Part 1

I get stressed out each time I see an announcement for LOST DOG on Pawboost Alert. I would love to know how and why so many of these dogs are running away and getting lost. I thought it might be a good idea to discuss how to PREVENT this from happening. Keep in mind though if you have recently adopted a shelter or rescue dog, many will try to escape in the early days of coming home. So closely supervise your newly rescued dog for several weeks! Do not allow that dog to be out in your yard unsupervised!

One reason dogs will run away is: it’s more exciting and fun to be outside hunting or scavenging, or playing with a neighbor’s dog rather than being stuck in the house with nothing to do! Dogs need exercise, both physical and mental. You must provide enrichment activities that will keep their brains working and give them something enjoyable to do, especially when they’re alone in the house. There is a blog on my website that has tons of ideas for providing enrichment activities . Click on this link to read it:  “Physical Exercise and Mental Stimulation for Dogs.”

NEVER call a dog to you to do something unpleasant (e.g., to say “bad dog!” or to put him in his crate, or to take him to the vet’s or groomer). No matter when you call your dog, it should be with a happy, cheerful voice, even if you’re mad as hell. Dogs will not come to you if they think they’re going to be punished! Even if your dog comes home hours after you’ve been going crazy trying to find him, BE JOYFUL and praise him for coming home. Remember that punishment will teach him something bad will happen if he approaches you!

NEVER chase your dog! Doing that will teach him/her running away from you is more fun than coming to you.

Below is my handout of games for teaching dogs to COME WHEN CALLED first from inside the house to teach him that coming to you is a good thing. My next article will teach you how to get your dog to come in from outside the house:

BACK UP AND TREAT GAME

Get your treats and begin the game with the dog sitting directly in front of you. Show him the first treat in your hand, and lure him to follow that treat as you take a step backward and he comes forward to you. Say, “COM’ERE” and give him that treat immediately when he reaches you! Keep taking one step back, and each time he comes to you, give him a treat right away using the word, “Com’ere.”

Only use a food lure for 3 repetitions! Once you get past this first part of the game, you should hide your treats behind your back and offer it only when he’s right in front of you. Encourage everyone in your family to play these games. 

DOGGIE IN THE MIDDLE GAME

Start out with the dog standing between 2 family members who are at a small distance from one another. One person calls the dog saying, “Com’ere” and rewards with a treat as soon as he arrives. Then the second person calls the dog and repeats this same process. As the dog gets better at coming to each person, begin slightly increasing the distances that you’re calling the dog back to you. Start calling your dog from different rooms to find both people who are playing the game when he’s doing well.

GO FIND IT GAME 

Toss a treat to the left of the dog and say “Go Find It.” Let him eat his treat. Then call him back to you saying “Com’ere.” When he is directly in front of you, give him a treat immediately. Then toss a treat way out to the right. Tell him “go find it!” Let him get his treat. Then call him back to you saying “Com’ere” and give him a treat immediately when he’s directly in front of you. Toss a treat out front of him and say “go find it.” Repeat this process over and over. Little by little, increase the distance you’re tossing those treats so he has to return back to you from further away to get his rewards! 

 

Housetraining Procedures for Puppies & Adult Dogs

training

If you’re having problems housetraining your puppies or older dogs, are you:

Leaving your dog’s food bowl full all day long? “Free feeding” prevents your dog’s digestive system from having a specific schedule of elimination. Your dog is not a cat! Feed your dog a good quality dog food and feed him twice/day. Keep his food bowl down for no longer than 20 minutes. Whatever he doesn’t finish within that time period, put the rest away and add it to his next meal.

You need to take your dog outside onleash for elimination everytime you think he has to go. This way, you’ll be able to monitor what he’s doing and what he’s NOT doing. If you just let him out and don’t watch him, how will you know if he’s done his business?

Take your dog out:

  1. First thing in the morning
  2. Within 5-10 minutes after every meal
  3. Immediately after every nap
  4. Take your dog out after being played with for awhile. This is very stimulating to many dogs and they will need to eliminate soon after something exciting happens.
  5. Take the puppy out on an average of every 45 minutes to an hour. You might want to keep a log on this to determine just how often he needs to go from how many times you can get him to eliminate when you take him outside. If you have an older dog, you can lengthen this to every hour to hour and a half.
  6. Before taking the dog outside, say to him, “wanna go potty?” and bring him outside on leash to your designated spot. Keep treats on you, so you can reward the dog immediately after he does his business. Within half a second after your dog pees or poops in the right spot, offer a treat and praise him to the skies. You can reward good house training behaviors by then letting him run around outside with you or taking him for a walk or run. Throw him a puppy party ANYTIME he eliminates in his spot.
    Caution: Avoid giving your dog his treat reward when you go back in the house. All you will have rewarded him for is going in the house! A reward must be given with 1/2 second of the behavior for the dog to learn what it was that he was being rewarded for.
  7. If you’re out with your puppy for awhile and he’s been running around and playing, make sure you bring him back to his “toilet” area before going inside. He might have to go again.
  8. When you’ve established a fair amount of success in getting the dog to go in this spot, begin putting a command word on the behavior. For example, when you bring the dog to his spot, as he starts to eliminate, say your phrase, like “go potty.” Then reward him with a treat right after he’s finished.
  9. If you cannot keep your eye on him all the time, (1) put him in his crate, or (2) tether him to your waist with his leash or long-line.
  10. Watch him for certain signals that he may have to go: (1) sniffing the floor, (2) looking a bit anxious or worried, (3) coming to you and just staring at you, (4) preparing to squat or lift leg, acting excited and a bit obnoxious.
    Caution: Don’t expect young puppies to clearly indicate when they have to go potty! Look for more subtle signs as listed above in item 10.
  11. Take the dog outside to potty before bedtime.

IF YOU TAKE HIM OUT AND HE DOESN’T GO, FOLLOW THESE PROCEDURES:

  1. Do not allow him to play outside.
  2. Bring him inside and put him in his crate for 15 minutes to 1/2 hour. This is not a punishment. Give him a toy or a chewy to occupy him until you take him out again for another try.
  3. Take him out again, and repeat all procedures you’ve been instituting. (generally, the dog will go after having been crated for an additional 1/2 hour.)

Please be aware that it is more difficult to train a toy or miniature dog. These tiny dogs have very small bladders and need to be taken out much more freqently.

DO NOT PUNISH HOUSE TRAINING ACCIDENTS!

When adopting shelter or rescue dogs, you may experience housetraining accidents in the very beginning. Just implement these procedures to get the dog back on the right track. Keep in mind that sometimes our dogs regress in housetraining because (1) they may have a urinary tract infection; (2) they may be experiencing separation anxiety; (3) females that have been altered may develop spay incontinence. Speak to your vet and he can give the dog medication to control this; (4) male dogs may mark on vertical surfaces and females may also mark as a way to establish territory. Within a multi-dog household, you should reduce competition for resources (food, toys, you), by teaching the dogs that you all good things come from you and belong to YOU, not them. Use good leadership skills and your dogs won’t feel the need to be competitive with one another.

The success of teaching a dog to go potty outside depends on your management of the situation.

By punishing the dog, he will not learn that going outside is what you want him to do. Punishment will only teach him that you are dangerous. This can result in a dog that will (1) refuse to potty outside in the presence of his owner; (2) come inside and eliminate where nobody can see what he’s doing. Dogs that are not completely housetrained and still have accidents in the house are not spiteful dogs! They are merely looking for an absorbent surface to eliminate on without suffering the consequences of being threatened. Management is key in housetraining any dog. If you don’t have the time to watch your dog or take him out very often, you’re going to have a much harder time of housetraining him!

REWARD ALL GOOD BEHAVIOR AND THAT BEHAVIOR WILL INCREASE!

Introducing Fearful Dogs to Visitors at your Home

Little puppy is hiding under a cupboardThis article addresses fearful dogs, but not dogs who will automatically go into attack mode at the sight of a stranger!! If you live with a dog who displays this behavior, please contact a professional in-home behaviorist/trainer to work on this issue!

The dogs I will be describing below are dogs who choose a flight response when faced with fearful stimuli.

Since I’ve been training dogs professionally, I’ve come to realize that we humans often exacerbate our dogs’s behavior problems. One thing that most of us do is allow our fearful dogs to run wildly to the front door when the doorbell rings. By the time we arrive at the door to answer it, our dogs are already in such a lather that they can’t think straight! We’ve actually taught our dogs to behave this way because we wind up rushing to the door in an excited state, and our dogs have picked up on this.

Then we compound the problem by opening the door and holding the dog back by grabbing his collar to avoid having the dog either jump on, lunge or attack whoever is standing on the other side. We’re now causing our dogs to feel completely frustrated because we’re preventing them from investigating what’s on the other side of that door. Doesn’t this sound like a situation out-of-control? Well… it is.

During one occasion, I was to train a fearful Shih Tzu who was always spooked when anyone arrived at the house he didn’t know. When I rang the doorbell, the owners opened the door, picked up their dog and attempted to hand him to me! Yikes! The dog was already scared out of his little mind, and now his humans were trying to push him into the arms of a person he thought might want to harm him.

So, let me offer some suggestions on how you can create a less stressful way of introducing your shy or fearful dog to a visitor at your home.

Most fearful dogs react strongly to the sound of the doorbell. The doorbell has become such a negative stimulus to the dog because it always represents something scary is about to come through the door! What has worked well with my own clients is (1) putting an “out of order” sign on the doorbell; (2) asking an expected visitor to call right before they arrive at the driveway. This way people have time to put the dog in a nice quiet room with a filled Kong toy or a healthy chew toy (e.g., bully stick or veggie nylabone). Train your dog beforehand to go into this room a couple times/day. First put him in there and stay with him for about 15 minutes. Each time you put him in there, stay less and less, and get him used to being in the room and feeling good about being in there. Also, put a TV or radio on for company. Then, when you know someone is coming, he’ll be very willing to go into this safe room without an “argument.”

Now you can go and let your visitor enter your home without having the doorbell ring or someone knocking on the door. Have this person sit down and get comfortable and ask them if they’d be willing to help you socialize your dog. I find the best place to seat myself is right at the kitchen table. I get lots of treats ready and place them on the table. When the dog enters the room, I already smell like a human supermarket of doggy treats. I sit there like a statue! Give your visitor the following instructions:

1. Do not make eye contact with the dog.
2. Do not speak to the dog.
3. Do not reach a hand toward the dog.
4. Do not try to pet the dog.

Bring your dog into the kitchen onleash and keep him under your control. Try to keep the leash as loose as possible. Avoid holding the leash with a death-grip, or your dog will sense that you’re feeling nervous and he’ll respond in kind! Have a seat yourself at the kitchen table, but at a distance from your visitor. Have your dog sit right beside you while you continue to hold his leash. When you sense that he’s calming down and not feeling anxious about the visitor, allow him to approach this person if he so wishes. If the dog then wants to sniff and investigate this person, here are additional instructions to give your visitor:

1. Begin slowly and quietly dropping treats on the floor for the dog to eat (provide soft and very tasty food treats; e.g., cheese, bits of lunch meat, freeze-dried liver, bits of garlic chicken, bits of hot dogs, etc.). If the dog does eat the treats, you can be relatively certain that his stress levels are lowered. If he chooses not to eat, he is still quite nervous.

2. If the dog is eating, after a few minutes, tell the visitor to put a treat in an open palm and put that hand down by their side. If the dog eats the treat from this person’s hand, you’re probably on your way to a good introduction.

3. Once the dog is accepting hand-fed treats, your visitor can start to speak softly to the dog. Your visitor can begin looking at the dog, but not directly in the eyes. *You* be the judge as to whether your dog should continue staying in the room with this person for the duration of the visit. If your dog seems to be relaxing and gaining trust in this person, that’s a very good thing. If your dog starts to back away from this person, it would probably be best to give him a break in that safe room you’ve created for him. He can always come back out in a little while for a re-introduction.

4. For first-time visits with anyone, I would suggest that you not encourage petting. Sometimes I don’t pet a dog until I’ve worked with him 3 or 4 times. Petting is not always seen by every dog as rewarding! When dogs are fearful, they may resort to nipping a person for trying to touch them. You always want to avoid having your dog practice any inappropriate behavior with anyone. Each time he’s allowed to practice inappropriate behaviors with people, he’s learning to strengthen those bad habits. Both you and your visitor should praise him to the skies for showing friendly behaviors.

5. Instruct your visitor to not get up without first telling you that they’re going to get up. If someone wants to get up or leave the house, *first* call your dog over to you, and take him into another room. Keep him facing *you* and get his attention focused on you! Get his attention by feeding him those delicious treats continuously until the person is gone. Nervous dogs generally get nervous again as soon as the stranger stands up and moves around. That’s probably because the dog doesn’t know what this person is going to do. If you make a practice of feeding your dog when people leave, he’ll again begin to change his association of that behavior from negative to positive because of the prediction of food happening.

The more visitors you introduce your dog to (on a one-to-one basis), the better he’ll get at accepting strangers to the house. What you’re doing here is changing your dog’s associations with strangers. At first it looks like: STRANGERS = SCARY STIMULUS-BAD FEELINGS. After you work on this for awhile, it will look like: STRANGERS = GOOD FOOD-GOOD FEELINGS. He’ll begin to look forward to meeting people at home because they will predict “good things happen.”

Be patient! This will not happen overnight! Depending on your dog’s age, his past learning experiences, and his overall temperament, this could take a couple of months or it could take a year or more.

Playing Tug of War by the Rules

Boy playing tug of war with dogIf you are the kind of person who doesn’t like setting rules down for your dog to follow, then playing tug is not a good game for you to play. Tug of War is a very competitive, but excellent game to play if you want to teach your dog to have self-control. Many trainers and vets advise people to avoid playing tug because “it will make the dog aggressive.” Believe it or not, I taught my own very aggressive Border Collie to stop biting and use good self-control by allowing him to play his most favorite game in the whole world — Tug of War! If played correctly by using very strict rules, your dog can enjoy tugging with you for hours, if you want to play for hours. As you will read below, at no time during this game is your dog permitted to put his teeth on your skin — even if it’s an accident. If your dog mouths you, the game must stop. If you don’t want to follow through with playing by the rules, avoid playing this very fun game. Here are the rules to follow:

Does your dog have a drop it command? If not, first teach him to drop things out of his mouth by placing a treat over his nose when he has a boring toy in his mouth and say “drop it” as he opens his mouth to take the food. Praise him and give him the toy back. As he gets better and better at this, begin having him drop more valuable items out of his mouth, like his chew bones.


  1. Start the game off by commanding the dog to sit!
  2. Ask the dog, “wanna play tug?”
  3. Cue him to “take it.” and then give it to her
  4. Play for a little while, and then ask for a “drop it.” The dog should have a bomb-proof drop it and should release the toy immediately. If the dog doesn’t release it, just hold onto the toy and don’t pull on it or look at her. She’ll realize that “well… this is boring” and then should release the toy. Praise her for the release, but put the toy away.
  5. You can re-start the game in about 5 minutes or so (this serves as a time-out for her ignoring the drop it command.
  6. Play again, and then ask for a drop it. If she drops it, praise her and give her the toy immediately with a take it command.
  7. It’s recommended that once in awhile, after commanding her to drop it, that you do a couple of obedience maneuvers before re-starting the game.
  8. With any dog who has shown aggression toward an owner or other humans, never let that dog win a round. If you find that sometimes the dog has gotten the best of you and was able to pull the toy out of your hand, let her think you planned it that way, and say “Take it!”
  9. Whatever toy you choose for playing tug should always be put away and out of the dog’s reach. Remember that it is your toy, as are all others. Put the toy away until YOU decide when to bring it out again.
  10. If the dog makes any mistakes, like touching your skin with her teeth, the game ends immediately, the toy gets put away, and she gets ignored for about 3 minutes or so. Wait several hours after a mistake like that before re-starting the game. Then, put the toy away.

Note: If you are playing tug with a puppy, do not pull too hard. Your puppies teeth are not strong enough yet, and you do not want to strain or sprain any of your dog’s muscles, tendons or ligaments. When playing tug with puppies, do not jerk her head from side-to-side. You may cause spinal misalignments in a very young dog. Allow your dog to pull in any direction she feels comfortable. Let her do most of the pulling. Have fun 🙂