Friday, October 3, 2014

Adopting a dog from a rescue

  Adopting a rescue dog?  Five things to consider

Whether they are looking for a purebred dog, or just a loveable mutt to join the family, pet adopters are turning toward rescued animals from dog rescues listed on sites like
Petfinder more than ever before.  A lot of rescue dogs and puppies make great pets, without spending a whole lot of money on adoption fees  and you are usually getting an animal that up to date on health care including a vet check, vaccines, and surgical sterilization.  Factor in a significant bonus of getting that yummy warm feeling in your heart that you helped a needy animal while helping to reduce pet over-population, and it's pretty much a no brainer to adopt from a rescue.  Of course there has to be at least one "how ever" (or I wouldn't be writing this) so here are a few things to think about when you adopt from a rescue.

1.  Do your research.  Know what type of dog you want.  Think about space needs, housing needs exercise needs, temperament needs, and grooming needs. Talk to as many people as you can find who have owned the type of dog you are interested in.   What activities do you want to do with your dog?  For instance, an athletic working, hunting, or even terrier type of dog, is a more suitable buddy for running or mountain biking, than an an adorably fluffy little fuzz face dog.   Also, read up about canine nutritional needs and different kinds of dog food.  Figure out where your pet will sleep in your home.      
***By the way: ALL dogs require a minimum of twenty minutes per day of training and games for mental stimulation as well as ongoing frequent socialization with people, places and things, no matter how much exercise they get!
2. Count on consulting with a qualified dog behaviour professional. Rescued dogs nearly always come with behaviour problems.  Dogs are genetically and instinctively hardwired to live out their life with one family, forever and ever.  When they get pulled from one environment (however crappy it is) and put into a brand new environment, instinctive reaction behaviours may include separation anxiety, house soiling, resource guarding, nervousness, and/or obsessive behaviours.   These behaviours can often improve very quickly, using the positive, scientifically proven methods that are now gaining popularity.  Research local trainers and veterinary behaviourists before the arrival of your new addition.  Include the cost for at least one consultation with a good positive method professional in the cost of your rescued dog.    Look for a professional with accreditations and proof of testing and assessment of their knowledge and skills. CPDT, and IABC trainers and behaviour consultants are a good place to start.
3.  Don't trust any rescue's behaviour assessment on a dog with no known history.  Dog rescues are usually run by big hearted people with no formal training, no accreditation and no qualifications to make behaviour or temperament assessments.  When a rescue worker gives an assessment of a dog's temperament, suitability for children or other pets, etc, (especially of a dog that doesn't have a known history) it is wise to keep these things in mind.    It's really hard to predict the future behaviour of a dog when it is in the stressful environment of a shelter, or in any other new environment.  Some rescues will use one of the popular behaviour assessment tests to try to predict a dogs temperament.   But a 2009 study at Monash University found the reliability, feasibility  and validity of most of the currently used behaviour assessments to be dubious at best, and none were designed by, or with consultation with a behaviourist.  The study suggested that many thousands of dogs might be needlessly put to sleep while many others are inappropriately declared as safe after these sometimes unfeasible behaviour assessment  tests are applied.

4.   Count on as long as 6 months for your dog to completely settle in to his new environment.  While some rescue dogs can adapt their new home almost immediately,  it takes many others longer to recover from  upheaval in their lives and to adapt to their new surroundings.  Patience and consistent routines will help them to adapt to their new surroundings faster.
 5. Ask what training methods a rescue recommends.  Try to adopt from a rescue that recommends a "positive method only" style of training.  If the rescue recommends using any dominance based training techniques,  harsh behaviour corrections, or tools such as a pinch/prong or electronic collar, you should ignore their advice.  Many rescue dogs have been sent into an endless cycle of adoption and subsequent return because they develop escalating behaviour problems every time they are adopted into a home where dominance is valued more than mutual respect and trust.  If you must adopt a dog through a rescue that recommends dominance, or even describes a dog as dominant, (or submissive), be prepared to work to earn the dog's trust by using a positive, non-corrective approach.    

reference:  Reliability, validity, and feasibility of existing tests of canine behaviour,
                 Kate Mornement, Samia Toukhsati, Grahamme Coleman, Pauleen Bennet,  
                Anthrozoology Research Group, Animal Welfare Science Group, Monash University, 2009

Saturday, August 23, 2014

22 Things That Will Make Your Dog Awesome

[schema type="Blog_Post" title="23 Things That Will Make Your Dog Awesome" Written by "Lynne Fedorick" url="" dateCreated= August 24, 2014 description="Dog training advice" city="Black Creek" state="BC" postalcode="V9J 1E2" country="CA" email="" phone="12507923515"]

23 Things that will Make Your Dog Awesome

  1.  Use positive training methods to engage and motivate your dog to want to learn.
  2.  Set consistent and clear rules of conduct for your dog.  If you don't want him on the couch, never allow him on the couch.  If you don't want your dog to chase chickens, don't encourage him to chase other small animals.  Actively teach him that he will get greater rewards for ignoring the chickens.  
  3. If you ask for a behaviour, mean it.
  4. Be honest.  If you promise your dog a cookie, give him one. Don't bath him with a hose  instead.
  5. Be fair.  Break new behaviours into tiny steps. Work on one step at a time. Don't expect more than your dog is presently capable of.
  6. Spend a minimum of twenty minutes per day training your dog.
  7. Spend at least an hour per day exercising and playing with your dog.
  8. Feed him a decent diet, with a minimum of 25-26% protein,  whether it's kibble, dehydrated, or cooked or raw.  Avoid diets corn, byproducts, rendered animal fat, artificial colours.  When possibly try to source locally.  Check the expiry date on the bottom of the package.  Don't be afraid to add nutritious meat, fruit or vegetables to your dog's diet.  Keep carbs to a minimum.
  9. Play brain games with your dog every day.
  10. Socialize your puppy with people, places, and things, repeatedly from the time you get him.  Now is the time to get him around gentle children, and teach him to love getting hugs by making tasty tidbits of meat part of the cuddling process.
  11. Actively teach your dog.  Don't wait for problems to arise.  Show him he never has to worry about guarding his dinner, since food isn't a really that valuable and there will always be more.
  12. Play retrieving games with your dog.
  13. Focus on teaching what you want the dog to do, rather than what you don't want him to do.
  14. Remember you are dealing with a member of a foreign species with no intrinsic way of understanding our verbal language or cultural ways.
  15. Remember your dog learns how to behave from you.  If you are gentle, fair and consistent with him, and never rough, he'll be gentle with others
  16. Include your dog in your daily activities.
  17. Give your dog a job to do.
  18. Have a routine.   You don't have to feed, walk, train, play, at the exact time every day, but a rough idea will help your dog to be secure and happy.  Secure and happy dogs don't develop phobias or aggression.
  19. Have fun with your dog.
  20. Chuck your choke chain, pinch collars, and electronic collars.  These devices can provide quick fixes, but the kind of stress they cause for the dog makes him less amenable to learning, and can cause him to develop weird phobias and aggressive behaviour.  Instead invest in a harness that attaches to the leash at the front of the chest.
  21. Train in a distraction free  environment to begin with.
  22. Wean your dog off food rewards after he learns a behaviour.   You don't want to turn lures into bribes. Instead, use food to reward a series of behaviours.
  23. Work with a Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers CPDT Assessed Dog Trainer.  These trainers need references from another dog trainer, a veterinarian, and a client, must meet minimum requirements for hours of training experience,  must pass a written exam on learning theory and dog training, and must continue their education in order to maintain their certification entitlement.

13 Reasons Trick Dog Training is Soaring in Popularity

[schema type="Blog_Post" title="13 Reasons Trick Dog Training is Soaring in Popularity" Written by "Lynne Fedorick,CPDT-KA,CTDI" url="" dateCreated= May 19, 2014 description="13 Reasons Trick Dog Training is Soaring in Popularity" city="Black Creek" state="BC" postalcode="V9J1E2" country="CA" email="" phone="12507923515"]

Earl has knows 28 tricks.


Trick training has been around for as long as people and dogs have been hanging out together.  These days, trick training has become the latest trend in dog sports.   Enthusiasts teach their dogs everything from shake a paw to walking on front paws.  Kyra Sundance (and the popular Do More With Your Dog Trick Dog Title Sanctioning body) have been ringleaders in building the sport's popularity.   Kyra has written a whole host of fun, easy to read guidebooks on teaching your dog everything from a basic sit to more advanced tricks like closing doors and fetching mail from a mailbox.

  1.  Trick training a super fun way to engage and bond with your dog.  Trick training is rewarding for both dog and handler, and makes dogs want to learn and people want to keep teaching them.  
  2. Trick Dog Training uses an all positive (force free) style of training is easy for people to master and for dogs to understand.  This produces remarkably fast results so that handlers are more apt to spend a minimum of 20 minutes per day training a canine partner who thoroughly enjoys learning. 
  3. Since having a team is optional in trick work, there is no commitment to anyone but your dog. 
  4. You can learn and practice tricks anytime, anywhere.
  5. Tricks and stunt work are undoubtably cool.  A dog that happily brings cold beverages to guests is a welcome member of any social gathering.
  6. Trick training is inexpensive.  Pick up Kyra Sundance's amazing book, 101 Dog Tricks or Take a 7 class course with a Certified Trick Dog Instructor and you will be well on your way to teaching your dog any behaviour you want (well, within reason, of course). 
  7. Your dog can earn Intermediate, Expert, and Champion Trick Dog Titles and enter trick exhibitions and competitions, or you can just do it for fun, and your dog's fitness and mental stimulation.
  8. Trick Dog exercises are a good low stress workout for your dog.   Physically demanding, low impact  exercises like pedestal work help to wear off a surprising amount of doggy energy.  These exercises also develop and stretch core muscles in the abdomen and back, and this helps to prevent injuries when your dog is out just being a dog.  
  9. Trick dog training provides challenging mental stimulation which makes your dog better at problem solving as well as tiring him out.  Tricks get easier to learn as the dog develops his problem solving skills.
  10. Better overall behaviour.   Many trick trainers report that their dog's behaviour problems just disappeared after a short time of learning and practicing tricks.  I am sure the dogs would report the same news about their trainers too, as trick training really helps hone our skills and timing.
  11. Anyone can teach their dog tricks.
  12. Any dog can learn tricks.  Trick work is easily adapted to the size, shape, breed and age of the dog.  
  13. There are no prerequisites.  Puppies as young as eight weeks can learn to sit and senior dogs enjoy doing less physically demanding tricks like a head cock, or roll over.  

Sunday, March 9, 2014

BARK! How to stop inappropriate barking humanely and effectively

All dogs bark.  It's what dogs do to alert other members of their social pack to potential problems.  Different barks have different meanings, from the short sharp surprised yip that signifies "Hey, was that?!"  To the continual "Owowowowowow" with the front of the body, head and ears up and forward, and the back of the body downward and ready for flight that signifies "OMG this is so scary, come have a look!".  When the whole body is erect and head and ears are pitched forward, that bark becomes a "Hey, Come on over here so I can mess you up" bark.  Dogs also bark a loud sharp bark if they need something ("HEY!").  Dogs bark in response to stress and stimulation.  No matter when your dog barks, it is because he is stimulated and/or stressed.  Usually we humans are cool with a few barks to alert us to a potential problem ("Hey, some one is at the door",  "There might be an intruder",  "Timmy fell in the well!"  That kind of thing)  But when the dog starts repeatedly barking, often when we are not home, or when we are out for a morning constitutional and he sees something that he's not used to or super excited by (like a squirrel) we often call it excess barking.

So how do you stop excess barking?  There are a couple of ways you can do it.  One is to apply an aversive (something that the dog doesn't like) like a squirt of water from a spray bottle, or a shock from an electronic collar.  The reason I don't ever recommend either of these methods is that any results will be short term, stopping the behaviour while you have access to water or while the dog is wearing an electronic collar .  The reason that electronic collars have any effect at all is because they cause the dog discomfort (If you don't believe this, try using one on your own throat-ouch).  The dog often doesn't realize that the collar is causing the pain, since he has no knowledge of electricity or how it can be used to hurt him when he barks.  He just knows when he sees the postman/skater/little kid swinging a lunch box/guy with a cane or some other thing like the shadows from the position of the sun, a bicycle etc.,  he gets hurt.  Guess what?  He probably  stops barking at the stimuli while he is wearing the collar, since the pain goes away when he doesn't bark)  But he no longer wants those people (or things) in his life since they cause pain/discomfort.  He automatically gets  nervous when he sees them now.  So he now has a good reason to  do everything he can to get them to go away, including lunging at or biting them.  Now you have a dog that has a potentially dangerous aggression problem, especially when he is not wearing the e-collar.  DON"T RISK THIS!

The long term solution, is to not correct the dog at all.  I know this seems counter-intuitive, but when you correct a dog, the dog becomes even more edgy than he was in the first place.  If the dog is nervous or stimulated, he will instinctively bark to warn the rest of the pack that something might be amiss in his world.  Instinctive behaviour is hard-wired (Thanks for this term, Jean Donaldson) within the part of the brain that never really changes.  So while you may be able to  stop the behaviour for a few seconds or even minutes, you will need to keep applying correction the excess barking  every time the dog notices the stimuli that got him worked up in the first place.  To me it's better to teach the dog to be chill around everything and everybody using a long term solution that either involves building a positive association with the stimuli, or teaches the dog that a few barks are all that is needed (as in when someone knocks at the door).  

Somebody was asking me how to stop her two little dogs from barking at everyone when they go out for a walk.  Here is what I would do:

  1. Only walk and work with one dog at a time for as long as it takes to change the behaviour of both dogs.  One dog's alert signal (body language and barking) will make the other dog vigilant and alarmed too.  Every time the dogs get all excited and crazy and get each other into barking mode, it makes it more likely that it will happen again.  So in this case, walk the dogs one at a time in an area where you are less likely to run into whatever causes the dog to go crazy while you are teaching the new behaviour. Prevent the unwanted behaviour (barking)while you are teaching a new behaviour (looking at you and eventually relaxing). 
  2. Be warned:  This can talk as long as three months.  
  3. Use a harness that attaches to the leash on the front of the harness (Easywalk, Freedom, Sensation are a few front attaching harnesses that are available in my area) and a six foot leash.  Front attaching  harnesses are excellent for helping to keep the dog calm.  Any type of collar on the neck causes a low level of stress in reactive dogs, and stress is ultimately what leads to barking.  Take as many small stressors away as possible, and the dog will have a better chance if relaxing. Carry a treat pouch filled with moist, pea sized bits of roast meat, or beef hot dogs.   This will help you to control and distract the dog way before he starts to bark.  Never ever jerk the leash, because this will add to the stress level that leads to sounding an alarm.
  4. If necessary, if your dog goes over threshold and barks, or you can't get him to take his focus off the stimuli, then nonchalantly and gently take him to where there is something blocking the view, and get him to relax. 
  5. Remember to relax and be conscious of your breathing.  If you are stressed, then your dog has a really good reason to be vigilant and alarmist.
  6. Think of barking as the end result of a series of physiological responses to a stressor.  Watch your dog for signs of stimulation.  The front of his body will be a little more erect than usual, his ears will pick up and point forward, his nose may twitch a little.   This is the stage where it is easiest to distract the dog, get him to perhaps sit and stroke/scratch him gently where he likes it best,  when he relaxes even for a brief second,  quickly reward with loving praise, first a small handful of treats.  
  7. Repeat, repeat, repeat.  DO NOT ADVANCE TOWARD THE OBJECT/PERSON causing the stress until the dog is completely comfortable with it at a distance.  So comfortable that the stressor is a non issue and the dog sniffs around or looks up at you and not at the object.
  8. Some dogs (especially hunting breeds like pointers and retrievers) will automatically feel more comfortable and relaxed carrying a favourite toy (for some a "talking" stuffy often works especially well).  And it's hard to bark seriously at something when your mouth is full!  
Teaching appropriate barking at the door works on the same principal, but get a friend or family member to help you with a set up:

  1.   Friend is outside at the door.
  2.   Relax and focus on your breathing.
  3.   Make up a cue so your friend knows when to knock or ring the door bell.
  4.   Have lots of yummy pea sized treats in a bowl/pouch/etc
  5.  Stay right beside the dog and give the cue to your friend.  
  6.  After the dog barks twice, say something like "Great Bark!" "Thank you!" enthusiastically. Then fill his mouth up with snacks. 
  7. If he wants to keep barking, you can very gently close his mouth with your hand, and whisper "Quiet" and then immediately give him a bunch of snacks.  Do NOT yell "QUIET!". Whisper it so the dog can learn what it means from you and you can show him that you are on the same team.
  8. Most dogs will catch on very quickly.  As with everything you teach your dog, repeat, repeat, repeat until your dog knows it off by heart.  Don't just stop right after he gets it.  The way we train is the way we play.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Keeping your dog mentally stimulated

Mental stimulation is very important for most dogs.  I say most because there are a few dogs out there  (you probably know at least one) that really would rather you just let them lie around dreaming of chasing rabbits all day.  But that probably isn't your dog, especially if your dog comes from a breed type that was created for helping people out in some way.  Today I'm going to present how to get your dog to retrieve different objects by name.  Earl is learning to retrieve a small fire extinguisher, but it will probably be another month before he can retrieve it.  Earl doesn't yet enjoy retrieving heavy objects, but he likes to bring his toys or his fire helmet.   He is learning that his different toys each have a name, although he might never have as many toys as the famous Chaser the Border Collie, who learn the names of her 1200 toys.  (But hey, don't feel too bad for him, he's got an entire herd of little goats to play with.  And me too.)  Anyway,  by teaching the name of one toy, and then one more and gradually adding more he has learned the words:  Ball, Big Ball, Rope, Frisbee and Helmet all have corresponding objects. In time, I will introduce "Extinguisher" to him, but for now we are perfecting the retrieve on more traditional objects.  One baby step at a time.

Teaching a retrieve:

A retrieve really has four distinct parts.   These are:

  1. Get the object
  2. Pick up the object
  3. Return with the object
  4. Drop or give the object
To get a good retrieve,  you need to teach "Take" and "Give".  Get your dog's tug toy, or rope, or even a knotted up old tea towel.  Playfully tease him with it by wiggling it around in front of him and then behind his head until he grabs it in his teeth.  Say "Take it".  Play tug for a few seconds,  and once he gets into it, offer him a bit of meat, cooked meat and say "Drop it!"  Repeat this about 6 or 7 times.

To teach the retrieve,  start with the most basic retrieve with the most desirable item possible.  Yes I am talking about a small piece of meat.  This will get him understanding the meaning of "fetch",  "get it" or whatever you choose to call this behaviour.   Show the dog the treat, and toss it a short distance away.  Saying "Get it".  Repeat about 6 times.

Now, take a tennis ball  (yeah, I meant the cheap fuzzy kind- these are bad for dogs, I know, but you aren't going to be using it long.)  If you can find a fuzz free hockey ball, that's better, but don't sweat it if you can't find one or aren't willing to mutilate one.   Using a box cutter, very carefully cut a one inch slit in the ball.

In front of your dog, insert a piece of meat into the slit, playfully tease him with it and toss the ball a few feet, saying "get it".  When he goes and gets it, if he doesn't bring it back to you right away,  tell him to drop it, and remove the treat from within it and give it to him, telling him what a great dog he is.   Repeat this a few more times until he "gets" it.  Then up the ante and throw the ball further.  Once he really and truly knows to bring the ball back to you to get you to remove the treat for him, quit loading the ball.  He will still get a treat when he brings it, but from you, not the ball.  You can phase out the rewards to every second retrieve, and then every third then every fourth, etc, when your dog is really clearly enjoying bringing it to you.

Practice throwing the ball every day for about ten days.  When he really enjoys this game, try this:

In a distraction free environment:  Put the dog in a stay, so he can watch you.  put the ball somewhere  a few feet away that he can see it.     Now release him and tell him to get ball.  Of course you will reward him with a food reward when he brings it.  Next increase the distance, and gradually increase the difficulty of finding it ( put it around a corner, behind a piece of furniture, etc.)

Teach your dog the names of different objects by starting one at a time.  Put the ball and one other toy  on the floor in front of the dog.  Say "Get Ball"  and reward the dog when he easily gets it.  After he drops it or gives it to you, say "Get rope (or whatever the other toy is called)"  point to the rope.  When he gets it, praise and reward like crazy.  Repeat this a few times.  Alternate back and forth between objects.  When he really knows these two, you can add in another object (it could be a remote control for the TV, or a slipper, or a leash).  Proceed as before.  Don't hurry,  it can take several training sessions to learn the associations between the objects and the noun for them.  Keep adding more in.

Always keep it light and fun.  Training should be a positive and rewarding experience for everyone involved.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Rainy Day Fun

We all have days when we can't get our dog out for a good run.  Sometimes we're recovering from an injury, sometimes the dog is recovering from an injury.  Sometimes the weather is just too cold and miserable for even the most dedicated human or canine athlete.  It's hard on an injured youngster of any species to lie around and rest up, but rest is mandatory for full recovery from any injury.  A lot of the time, keeping a dog mentally stimulated with games will help the dog to manage to get by with less exercise.  Here are some ideas that might help to keep your dog relatively sane while he recuperates.

  1.   Make feeding game by putting at least some of his meals in a toy such as a Kong wobbler,  Buster Cube, or one of the many other toys that are designed for this purpose.  If your dog is on a raw diet, stuff his meals into rubber Kong toys, or bones that have no marrow left in them and freeze them solid.  This trick also works for dogs on kibble diets, but you change the stuffing technique slightly:

What You Need to Stuff a Kong:

  • A kong appropriate for your dog- red is for average chewers and black is for strong chewers
  • Some canned dog food
  • a bit of garlic sausage, or pepperoni (get the version meant for humans, not the mystery meat kind sold for dogs)
  • Some kibble  
Start at the tiny hole in the end by stuffing a little sausage into it.  Now turn the kong over and put a acorn sized bit of sausage int the Kong.  Next put a tablespoon or two of canned food, add a handful of kibble.  Add another layer of canned dog food and then some more kibble.  Continue like this to the top 1/2 inch and finish with canned food. Then stick the whole business into the freezer for a few hours until it is frozen solid.

  1. Some Fun Games:   


  • Do this exercise in an environment with no distractions.
  • Start with your dog in the sit or down position.
  • Say "Stay" like you mean it.  Use a hand signal like this one to help your dog learn a visual cue.
  • Step back from the dog about two feet.  Wait about 3 seconds. Reward with a "Good Stay" and give him a handful of yummy pea sized treats.  If he gets up, simply and quietly put him back into the position he was in when you started and try again, this time for a shorter period of time (always go back to the last success, and work your way up from there)
  • Work your way up to a longer stay in increments of seconds,  and then minutes. 
I like Emily Lartham's take on teaching stay.  It's highly effective and fun for the dog and human too.  Here is one of her videos on the subject. 

Find It! 


Find it is a starter for a lot of searching and retrieving "work".  Not all dogs will excel at it, but it's worth a try, especially if your dog is a hunting, hound, or working type of dog or just a Jane of All Trades type like Esta and Alice.   Start with just finding the hot dog treat, and then  work up to finding it under clothing or objects.  Once he's good at finding hotdogs anywhere, anytime, under objects, then just find the objects and get the hot dog as a reward.  

I like to use good quality (i.e. with less crap in them) hot dogs to train this. Dry treats won't do the job at all.  Cut the hotdog into half inch pieces.  Start with your dog in a stay position in a non distracting environment.  Rub the hot dog on the palm of your hand.   Put the hot dog on the floor or ground about ten feet away from him.  Release him but hang onto him or otherwise briefly keep him from going to get the treat.   Gently cup the hot dog scented hand close to the dog's nose and say "Find it".  Now release him to go and "find" the hot dog.  Help him if he needs it.  Celebrate when he finds it like he found you a stack of gold bars.  Do this about 6 times.

When your dog can find the hot dog in a super easy situation, you are ready to up the ante a little and add some challenge.   Put the hot dog bit on the end of a stick, or tie a string around it.  With your dog in the stay, drag the hotdog along the floor, and hide it to some easy hiding spot behind an object like an open door, or a couch or chair.  Be sure to  take any stick or string off the hot dog so your dog doesn't accidentally eat it.  Make sure the hiding place is not too difficult.  Now release him and give him the "Find It" command with the cupped, scented hand again.  Show him where the "trail" starts and help him find the stashed hot dog piece.  Repeat this until he easily finds it. Gradually make the "trail" longer and the hot dog a little harder to find each time.  I will write more on advancing this skill to retrieving object when I get back to this.  

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Training Tip of the Day

Training Tip of the Day

Attention Training:

All training starts with getting your dog's attention.  Attention training teaches your dog to look at you, pay attention to you, and  trains him to get into that habit.  Good attention training will make your dog genuinely interested in what you want him to be doing, instead of all the wonderful smells and delightful elements of a distractingly fabulous world.   It's a great start to great teamwork, so pay attention to how to attention train, and teaching your dog anything else will be a breeze!


A treat pouch full of pea sized morsels of roasted and chopped meat or sausage.  Try so keep treats fragrant, simple and healthy
A clicker:  Clickers make teaching attention training a little easier.  Easy is good, you want to always set the dog up for success.
A non distracting environment.  An unoccupied room in your house like a bedroom, office, library, or if you live alone it's probably easier.

Situate yourself in front of the dog.   Get down to his level.
If your dog isn't trained to associate the sound of a clicker with a food reward, then you need to do steps 1 to 4 first:

  1. Click and simultaneously give a food reward. Start by using a small handful of food. Repeat six to 10 times.  Every few times offer more that one treat.
  2. Click wait a second (count to 1) before giving the food reward. Repeat five times
  3. Click wait 3 seconds before giving a food reward.  The idea is to develop distance between the click and the reward.  So the click starts to mean a reward is coming.
  4. Now wait tip the dog looks at you before you click and reward. Catch the behaviour right as the dog begins to turn his head towards you.  The first time give him a bunch of treats.  Praise. as you do so.
  5. Don't prompt!  When your dog has this behaviour figured out, you can add his name, and as soon as he starts to look at you click and then reward.  Once he is paying attention you can move on to start shaping some really cool tricks.
Start each training session with a few minutes of attention training.  It's like a warm up for athletes. Keep it light hearted and fun.  If the dog screws up, or shuts down, he's not getting it.  Back the training up to his last successful action and repeat it a few times, acting thrilled that he gets it.  Then start shaping the new behaviour in tiny increments.  You want to keep it fun for him so he'll love working with you better than anything else.  To keep it fun for him,  let him succeed and reward each success with your joy and  some great treats .  When he learns the behaviour, phase the treats out because his real reward will be working as a valuable member of a team.