A Few Tricks Of The Dog Training Trade

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Because I spend a lot of time and energy on everything dog, I tend to take for granted the knowledge and “tricks” I use on a daily basis that lots of people can use, but don’t know about.  Here are a few of the tricks of the trade that you can use.

Kongs – these food dispensing toys are invaluable for dogs that are destructive due to boredom, crated, or need to learn to “settle” and be calm.  They can be filled with most anything, but my favorites are:

A portion of regular kibble moistened until it’s soft, add unflavored yogurt, canned pumpkin (not pie filling), hot dog pieces, canned dog food, etc. put this in the Kong, plug the top with a spoonful of peanut butter.  To get the best results – Freeze the filled Kong – it makes the filling last longer, it keeps the dog busy longer, and it’s not as messy.  Do yourself a favor and have more than one on hand so there is always one in the freezer ready to go.

Treats – If you are just starting training, or haven’t reached consistently solid commands, treats are going to be crucial to letting your dog know that what he’s doing is what you want.  The faster the reward is given, the faster your dog will learn that he is doing a good thing.  Use treats that can be kept convenient.  I like to use Cheerios because they are small, don’t spoil so they can be left almost anywhere, and now come in Peanut Butter flavor.  If you are teaching your dog to wait at the door, you want to reward at the door, not have to run to the kitchen
to get a treat.  Keep a small baggie if Cheerios wherever you usually

Give in to the urge.  If you have a dog that is a digger, chances are that you are going to rough time training that trait out – if ever.  Give in to your dogs’ need to dig by getting a baby pool and filling with sand, toys, and treats.  Let him dig to his hearts’ content in the pool.  If you catch him digging somewhere else, guide him over to the place where it is okay for him to dig.

Use a hierarchy of treats.  Cheerios might work just find to keep your dogs’ attention in the house, but when you step out into the world, you made have to use something with more value.  I like to use chicken or turkey hot dogs, sliced longwise into quarters, then dice into about ½” pieces and microwave until dried out, but not burnt.  You can prepare an entire package and store them in a plastic bag in the freezer and grab a handful at a time – just remember to refrigerate after training.  If you really need to keep your dogs’ attention and are having trouble, fill a film canister or prescription bottle with peanut butter, or cream cheese, or liverwurst.  Sometimes just waving the scent in front of their nose is enough to grab that attention back.  Again, refrigerate after training.

If you have a dog that is hard to give pill form medication to – push the pill down into a marshmallow – they usually eat it right up.

If you have a dog that is antsy when you leave, or is new to your home, try doing yard work or exercising and putting your smelly t shirt in the crate of on their bed.  That leaves your scent behind for them to feel comforted, or helps them to get to know your scent as a soothing thing. – Caution – do not try this on your wife – it doesn’t have the same effect.

These are just a few of my favorite tricks of the trade – let me know some of yours.

Terry Meeks is a dog trainer, APDT Member an CGC Evaluator in Pinellas County, Florida.  Find Four on the Floor Dog Training at FourontheFloor-Dogtraining.com and on Facebook.

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