Training, Important Tips to Master

Training is a faux pas to talk about - because there is never ONE RIGHT method.  For the trainers that believe their training methods are the one and only - well I truly believe, due to experience, that they are wrong.  So always keep an open mind and consider all methods, till it works for you.  Afterall - training is for you, not the dog.

Like humans, we all learn different - same goes with dogs.  To be honest, it is not the dog that needs training - IT IS YOU!!  So if you ever go off on a tangent, on how bad your dog is, look in the mirror, it is YOU!

This is why we have two different trainers, training out of Sleep Rover - and also recommend others depending on you and your dogs needs. 

At Sleep Rover - we believe in pack mentality - that dogs follow their leader.  If you, yourself are not a true leader in your household, your dog will not listen to you.  This is why we are able to control a large amount of dogs in an open concept facility.  If we do not take control of the dogs, they will take control for us.

How you attain that trust and respect - is up to you.  We do not judge.  As noted, all dogs are different.  How you decide to approach your dog's teachings, is your decision.  Any harsh methods such as slamming and kicking dogs, we frown upon.  No dog needs to be physically punished ever.

Dogwit is a reward based, positive reinforcement training company who teaches socialization classes, obedience classes and reactivity classes.  I met Drae when I first got Shogun into training once he was done his classes at Sit Happens. She taught him scent work and thinking outside of the box.  It helped him use his other senses, and on top, make him more confident.  It also taught me to relax and understand dogs more.

K9 Psychologyis a pack mentality trainer.  Katelynn trains with the goal of you being the leader.  That the dog waits for your queue and direction.  I love this method as well, because you want to be the one that your dog goes to first when they make decisions.  That they seek your guidance before anything else.

Cultured Canines - we refer a lot of people to Beth - to experience that Pack Walk mentality.  Many people struggle with walking their dog on leash (more so they are getting walked on leash), reactivity on leash and of course - manners in a public setting.  Beth's philosophy is that YOU should be your dogs treat!

This blog post is more about what I believe, are the most important basics that you need to teach your dog, regardless of who you use for training.

RULE OF THUMB: When it comes to choosing your dog trainer - make sure they can attain what you want to learn.  Meaning if you want your dog to walk nicely, but their dogs cannot walk nicely - might be a good sign to find someone else.  They should be the product of what they are training.  Who cares about all the certifications?  Like in life, actions speak louder than words.

1.  HAND SIGNALS:  As my eldest dog, Mei Mei, gets older - at 14, she has officially lost all her hearing.

She is my first dog that I actually tried to train (meaning my first two dogs JJ & Siefer were not).  I was the one that would be at offleash parks - YELLING for my dogs 'JJ PLEASE come back.. Siefer.. Do you want a treat??' - Nope - off they went - terrorizing and here I was.. hopeless and embarrassed.  Mei Mei was feral as she came off the Tsuu Tina Reserve - and as you can tell - a little coyote like.  She was tough to train with her fear.  One thing one of our trainers taught us back in the day, was they trained US to use hand signals.  We never even noticed her implement them in the training - but I am so grateful she did.  As she trained us to speak to our dogs with the command, she also showed us hand signals.  I miss her training!  To sit, we lift our hands up.  To come, we wave them over.  To wait, we put up our hand like a stop sign.  All these came into use this year, as Mei Mei is completely deaf.  No amount of treat training or yelling or calling her, would work now.  Now when we need her, we wave at her, she waits for our hand signals, and comes without us even saying a word.  Although the image is of poor quality, please consider using these simple hand signals, to train your dogs!  It is never too late!

2.  RECALL - the most important training is RECALL.  It can save your dogs life.  No matter if your dog is a puppy, or you just rescued Rover - RECALL should be your top priority.

RECALL should be your top priority

It can start off as calling their name while you have treats in your hand.  Progress further by hiding in your home, and then calling their name.  Reward with a treat.  Get to the point where every time they hear their name, they come to that voice.  Whether it is yours, or someone elses.  It comes in handy at the offleash park, on a hiking trail, if you lost your dog or just to snap your dog out of focus when they are chasing for that rabbit.  RECALL is what I call, the foundation to all training.  Once you master recall, everything else is easy.

Your MONTH in RECALL - STEPS (start in your home):  WATCH my Amateur video here!!  (You can tell we need to fine tune our training as well - it has been awhile)

Dog Training is An Ongoing Task

Dog Training is An Ongoing Task - not a one time fix - just like any relationship tank - you need to fill it up to keep it strong!

  • Week #1:  CALL THEIR NAME - if they look at you - give them a treat!
  • Week #2:  SIT - Call their name, do your sit signal while saying SIT - treat!
  • Week #3:  SIT & STAY - After they sit, give them the STAY signal and say 'stay'! Move back 2 feet.  If they stay - treat!
  • Week#4:  HIDE & SEEK - Call their name, make them Sit, Stay and then hide somewhere in the home.  Call their name - when they come, treat!
  • Make it fun and add your family members and friends.  Once you feel confident, move it to your yard and eventually, at the offleash park.  

3.  CRATE TRAINING - Many people think that crate training is mean.  Little do they know, Crate Training is a savior for those dire situations when you need help the most.  I did my first vlog in 2012 about Crate Training and still stand by my views.  WHY?

  • Give them their own bedroom!  Dogs, like humans, love their own space.  Top up your kennel with a comfy bed, and they are in heaven;
  • We all have that one friend/family member that hates/scared of dogs.  Instead of having your dog howl, and destroy your bathroom or bedroom when they are over, having them crate trained means you do not have to worry, and your dog can enjoy a treat in their crate, stress free;
  • When you need to go away on vacation, crate training your dog is an easy way for them to adjust.  Whether in your car for a long ride, at a dog kennel or on a plane - if your dog knows a crate is their safe zone, they will not be stressed when inside;
  • At the vet - at one point, Rover might be at the vet.  Instead of being freaked out already for being at the vet - if you crate train them, they will find comfort, being in a kennel at the vet, reducing their stress levels;
  • Lastly - for the quick errand - or when you go to work!  Nothing worse than wondering what the dog got into, what they destroyed.. and on top - no dog wants to come home to their owner/parent yelling at them.  Save your shoes, your furniture, your tummy upsetting garbage can.. or even a chance at them breaking the window and escaping!  Get a yummy treat and crate them!

How to Crate Train?  Here are some simple steps:

  • SIZE:  As a puppy - you can buy the crates that an alter in size as your dog grows.  Rule of thumb for any size dog, is that they have enough head room to stand and of course turn around in.  (Will post Puppy Training tips in our next blog)
  • Day #1:  FEED:  Feed your dog in the crate - so they relate eating, to crating.  YUM!
  • Day #2:  RANDOM:  Random treats!  Have the kennel in the living room or family room - wherever you are when your family is together.  Throw random treats in there throughout the day so they can go in and out.
  • Day #3:  WAIT:  Start closing the door and then letting them out after 5 mins.  DO NOT LET THEM OUT when they bark.  Let them out when they lie down and wait quietly.  If you let them out when they bark, they will bark in the crate JUST because it means they get let out.
  • Day #4:  SLEEP:  Have the crate with you beside your bed and close the door.  As puppies it is tough - but within a week, your puppy will sleep quietly beside you.  Leave a chew in the kennel that they cannot swallow - so if they are not tired, they can chew on a healthy chew - such as a bully stick.
  • MOVE:  Gradually move the crate further away (unless you want the crate in your room).  Within a week, your dog should be crate trained.

Hope you found this blog helpful.  Remember, we are here to offer advice always.  Do not hesitate to ask.  These are just tidbits we have learned together, as a joint team, from experience.  Whatever makes our life easier, and our dogs happier - is our goal at Sleep Rover!