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Picking A Pup

That Dog Won’t Hunt

Doggone Problems? Grrreat Ideas!

Come! Part 2

Come! Part 1

The Name Game

 

Picking A Pup

By Bob & Ginny Riege

            For all dog owners: young, old, inexperienced, or well seasoned the process of picking a puppy should not be taken lightly.  Choosing your hunting companion starts long before selecting an individual pup from a litter or a kennel.  It is important to keep in mind that your dog needs will be when it reaches adulthood.
            Any serious hunter would like to sit down, consider all the different types of hunting he does, and pick a breed of gun dog, which will perform well in each.  Wouldn't it be remarkable to have a dog that would hold tight on grouse, make that run happy rooster sit, and retrieve a mallard duck from the icy waters of "Lake Whatever".
            Well I'm sure that you guessed it, there is no such dog.  You should determine what type of hunting that you do the most and the area that you live in.  Will you be hunting upland game or waterfowl or both?
Other factors are very important to consider before you make that decision.  For example, is your yard large or small?  Larger breeds require more room than smaller ones.  Will your dog be kenneled inside or outside?  Outside kenneling can have special needs during extreme weather conditions, and some breeds are more hearty than others.  Will you train your dog or seek professional training?  How much time do you have for training?  How quickly do you desire a finished gun dog?
            Be sure to check out the sire and the dam if at all possible.  Are these dogs similar in temperament, size and hunting ability?  Are these the type of dog you think you could live with?  Do you think these dogs will fit your family and surroundings?   Avoid backyard breedings.  Meaning, don't buy a pup out of Bill's springer who was bred with Sam's male, who lives under the porch at the neighbor's.  Don't fall for those cute puppies whelped by a golden retriever who bred a black Lab, even though they are registered.  Ask why this breeding took place?  Always check out the breeder.  Most will be happy to answer any questions you might ask. 
            When you pick up your pup it is a good idea to have the Veterinarian examine it as soon as possible.  Most good breeders suggest this as a rule of thumb.  Whatever choice you make, don't hesitate to shop around, ask questions and make a pest out of yourself.  You will gain the respect of bona fide sporting dog people if you show that you're genuinely concerned about the quality of pup you are about to purchase.
            Understand that buying a pup is only the beginning of your relationship with the dog.  Training is also something that you will have to commit to.  Recognize the need for patience in dog training and remember that repetition is the secret to training success.  Training a young dog should not be over 15 minutes.  The student gets bored if the training period is too long.  It is much more important to repeat the training each day rather than a lengthy session once in awhile.
            Some simple tools you will want to have when you begin training.  You'll need a lead rope of half-inch nylon and a good snap at the end of the lead rope.  You will also need a choke collar.
            The four basic commands that you will want to teach your gundog are "whoa," "come," "sit and stay," and "heel".  The first lesson I teach any dog is to heel, because it works in with teaching the animal to lead on a rope.  A young dog just out of the kennel is going to be wild and might fight the lead.  It might even take a week or so before he stops lunging at the lead.  Take the dog on a short lead, about two to three feet long.  Walk with the dog at your side and repeat the word "heel".  If the dog continues to lunge, I use a choke chain to restrain him at first.  Any lunging causes the dog discomfort and he soon learns to pace himself.
            Once the pup has learned to lead and to heel, he is ready for the command to "come".  This is a very simple process, place the dog on a long lead and tell him to "come".  If he ignores your command pull the lead toward you persuasively and repeat the command to "come" until the pup is at your feet.  Remember to praise your dog every time he does what you ask of him.  Release the dog and then repeat the command to "come".  He will soon learn to come when called without being pulled. Another method that we have used over the years is a dog training collar.  It sends a tiny vibration to the dog to get their attention.  If the dog still does not come you can use an electronic shock that tells the dog to stop and come.
            One of the most difficult commands to teach your dog is the command to "whoa" or stop.  This command is essential when in the field, many dogs think only of getting the bird, and forget about roads and farm machinery.  This command can be taught with the use of an assistant.  Place your dog on a long lead of about 15 feet.  Then walk away from your dog as the assistant holds him in place.  Walk about 10 feet from your dog and give the command to "whoa".  Allow your assistant to release the dog stopping him a couple feet short of you.  I like to raise my hand and start to teach the dog hand signals.  I believe that commands can be given in the field without the use of whistles or voice.
            The commands of “sit and stay” are one of the last commands that I teach my dogs.  If the dogs have mastered the previous commands this command will be easily taught.  While the dog is in the heel position give him the command to "sit and stay".  I teach this by making the dog sit by pressing down on his hindquarters and an assistant with a rope just as when teaching the command "whoa".  The only difference is the posture of the dog on this command should not be in the standing position but in the sitting position.  One of the best areas to teach a dog to do this is when walking him on a street.  At every street corner have the dog sit and stay and then you proceed across the street.  Release the dog when you have determined that no cars are coming and give the command to heel, this will insure that the dog associates walking, heeling and commands for sit and stay all in one process rather than three specific commands.
            The thing to remember is that repetition and patience are the most important precepts of gun dog training.  Dog training is a never ending process for the man who wants a polished performer.  If you let a dog get by with a mistake because he is just a pup then the dog will continue to make the mistake.  If you must correct the dog do it calmly and without emotion.   After the dog has been corrected don't forget to make up with him so he doesn't resent the training.
All this will make it more likely that the dog you buy - whether your choice is solid or spotted, longhaired or short, large or otherwise - will live up to your expectation.  Good luck and good hunting.

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That Dog Won’t Hunt

By John Hurley

Dogs
Telling someone that his dog won’t hunt is like telling a mother that her baby is ugly. It can present extreme pain on the receiver and requires poor judgment by the sender. This article was written to bring out the types or breeds of dogs that are bread for the purpose of hunting as the only dogs that will hunt. Just because they are the right breed doesn’t mean they will hunt anymore than if they are not the right breed that they won’t hunt. Dogs like people are individuals and like all individual decide what they will and won’t do.

At my house, the title phrase is more than a homespun witticism describing an ill-conceived idea or a hunting dog with poor field training. It’s a statement of fact about our dogs. I used to own a Labrador retriever – now, there was a dog that knew how to hunt, but she died. My wife became partial to golden retrievers so our next dog was a beautiful golden retriever. Some people train their golden retrievers to hunt and they swear by them. Some develop into excellent field dogs. Such was not the case with the golden retrievers that we owned.
In defense of the golden retriever as a breed they are intelligent, beautiful and possess boundless energy. Given the proper bloodlines and training goldens can develop into wonderful field dogs, but most of the golden retrievers available today have been bred for competition in the show ring and not as a field trial or hunting dog. Some experts say that breeding dogs that produce the qualities that win in the show ring has watered down the hunting instincts of the breed in general. Based on my experience with the two golden retrievers that we owned I agree that golden retrievers are beautiful dogs, but they are far from the best breed available for upland or water fowl hunting.
Our first golden retriever was a big female named Amber. We got her as a pup and raised her as a family dog. She was full of life and thought the whole world loved her. She constantly carried rocks in her mouth and my wife kept asking me to take her out and see how she performed in the field. I finally gave in and took her to a walk-in area east of town. Amber wasn’t particularly interested in looking for birds, but she did find some great rocks to carry around. In all fairness, we didn’t see many game birds during our first couple of trips except for a few sharp tailed grouse that flushed way off in the distance. I kept taking Amber hunting hoping that we would find a large covey of birds and her hunting instincts would emerge out of her subconscious. Besides, she was good company.
On our last hunt we arrived at the walk-in area and encountered gale force winds. I expected the birds in the area to hold tight and not flush unless they had to. As we came over a small rise Amber walked behind me looking for the right rock to pick up. I spotted a rooster pheasant hunkered down by a clump of grass about 40 feet in front of me and started calling for Amber while I pointed at the bird. She looked in the rooster’s direction but didn’t see him or at least she didn’t care about finding him. I picked up a rock and threw it right over the bird’s back to show Amber where he was, but she ran right over the top of the bird to get the rock that I’d thrown. The rooster took off running while I yelled at her to chase him and get him flying, but she just stood there so I flushed the pheasant into the air. Once he was up, I shot him, but by that point I knew that she didn’t have any interest in the bird so I retrieved him myself.
After this adventure I realized Amber wasn’t a hunting dog, but we had a good time in the field together. There is something - something good - about sharing the field with a dog whether it hunts or not. I decided that I would take her along on trips to the field whenever I didn’t have someone to hunt with. Unfortunately, she died the following summer.
My wife’s next dog, Annie, was another golden retriever. This one was smaller and full grown when we got her. Again my wife asked me to take her out to see if she’d hunt. So, I caved into my wife’s request during the early fall sharp tailed grouse season. It was hot, but otherwise a pretty day. At the first walk-in area Annie was out in front of me quartering back and forth like she knew what she was doing, but my optimism lasted about 20 minutes. She started following behind me just keeping up with me as we walked through the brush. It was a tough hunt as the brush grew thicker. We stopped for water often and sat in the shade and had a snack when we got winded or tired. Annie was more than happy to share my sandwiches with me. At this point I was enjoying her company, but my biggest worry was whether she was gun shy. She had been a rescue dog and quite timid when we got her so I had no idea if she would flinch at the report of a shotgun.
During our last hunt I flushed two sharp tails and shot one of them. My first thought was to check on Annie to see how she reacted. She stood right behind me like nothing had happened - the shot hadn’t phased her one bit nor had it piqued her interest to look for the grouse. I found the dead bird then called Annie over. She sniffed the bird once or twice then walked off. To say she’d lost interest would be implying there was some interest there to begin with. She was another dog that couldn’t care less about bird hunting. She’s good company in the field so I’ll continue taking her out with me. I might as well because I already know what kind of sandwiches she likes.
In closing I must say I have a special love for the working dog, they will give you 150% to please you and for that all they ask is to be with you. They listen to every word, facial expression, body movement that you use to communicate with. As far as understanding word for word of what you say it is like someone schooling you and they only speak German to you.
Many times a frustrated dog handler will come to me and say, “That dog doesn’t do what I tell him to do!”
I calmly respond to them, “That dog puts everything into everything he does for you. If he did a test incorrectly you must have explained it incorrectly to him. You need to work on your communication skills more to improve that.

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Doggone Problems? Grrreat Ideas!

Tiffany
By Tiffany Huebner (with Sally)

Huebner (train@doguespot.com) is the owner of Dogue Spot, the one stop SPOT for Dogue FUNdamentals, located in Otsego, Minn. (www.doguespot.com)

Jumping Up on People
• Give your dog a cue for jump up. Only allow jump up with this cue.
• Train the OFF command to avoid unwanted jumping.
• Use 3 strikes and you’re out rule – 3rd strike is a time out or remove from the situation.
• Consistency with your expectations about jumping up. Don’t be an enabler.
• Keep your dog on leash around visitors so you can control the situation. Help them succeed.

Potty Training
• Limit freedom in the house – crates & baby gates are great!
• Constant supervision – *waist leash* or crated when you cannot supervise.
• Timed feeding and watering.
• Outside time on leash with person to praise for proper potty place.
• Set schedule of outside times.
• Vet check, if necessary, to rule out medical issues.

Barking/Whining
• Teach SPEAK!
• Teach Quiet Command.
• Do not reward for behavior by letting out of kennel or off of tie out when barking/whining. Wait for a moment of silence.
• Do not leave unattended in the yard so dog is enabled to bark at will.
• Provide adequate exercise to prevent boredom barking.

Pulling on Leash
• If your dog is aware of YOU they are not pulling; pulling dogs are not giving their owners any attention/focus. BE MORE EXCITING!
• Dogs pull because they are allowed to do so; correct your dog.
• Pulling ENDS all forward motion (stop following your dog while they pull you) and loose leashes start forward motion.
• Ensure your collar fits and is appropriate.
• Get a training collar. Teach your new dog or puppy to never pull from the start.
• Consistency – if you let them pull sometimes they’ll always attempt to pull
• Patience on your part – if you lose patience and let them pull, they learn that pulling works.

Leash Aggression
• If your dog is focused on YOU there won’t be any leash aggression outbursts.
• Teach and use Self Control exercises (*Name Game).
• Improve on basic obedience in low distraction areas.
• Start at great distance to things causing aggression, slowly acclimate.
• Know your dog’s signals and redirect them “before” the outburst.
• A solid understanding of the Name Game is a must!
• Do not inadvertently reward for aggression (give a treat at the wrong time!).

Attention/Focus
• Use of Name Game appropriately.
• Leadership/Resource Control will help with this.
• Slowly introduce distractions that cause loss of focus.

Come When Called
• Always should be for a POSITIVE reason (like feeding or playing).
• Use long line/flexi to enforce the command.
• Do not ask for it if you know the dog will not respond.
• If your command has been useless for a long period of time you should change the command and retrain the meaning of “come”.
• Body language and voice help lots with this – BE FUN!

Basic Obedience
• Train every day for a few minutes.
• Consistency and FUN!
• Classes with knowledgeable instructor.
• Praise the good!
• Correct the naughty; dogs must know when they are wrong.
• End on a good note for each session.

Lack of Leadership
• Control Resources – anything a dog wants or needs is a resource.
• Clear communication.
• Yes or No – not maybe
• Always or Never – not sometimes
• Be Fair!
• No excuses (He’s just excited, She only does it when she sees you).

Chewing
• Provide appropriate chew toys.
• Exercise dog to provide mental stimulation & avoid boredom.
• Do not leave dog unattended where chewing is enabled. Crate!

Exercise
• Lack of exercise contributes to several dog behavior/training problems.
• Physical stimulation – walks, hard core play “with you”, not other dogs.
• Mental stimulation – training, rules to follow
• Emotional stimulation – play time with owner (1 on 1). No other dog; your dog needs YOU time too.

PLAY!!!
• Lack of play WITH your dog hurts your relationship. Play (one on one!) with your dog daily! No other dogs/distractions. Just you, toys, & your dog. BE FUN!

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Come! Part 2

By Tiffany Huebner

Huebner (train@doguespot.com) is the owner of Dogue Spot, the one stop SPOT for Dogue FUNdamentals, located in Otsego, Minn. (www.doguespot.com)

 

Last month I talked about how to start on this life-saving command. For those of you working on COME have you seen improvement? Have you been giving your dog the reasons to come when called by being fun, offering rewards and giving them energy?
Once again so you remember… My definition of COME is this: my dogs will come to me immediately, no matter what the distraction. Whether they are in hot play pursuit of their favorite dog friend, interacting with people that they just love, calling them off of a dummy/bird or just having fun away from me I want (and need) my dogs to come as soon as I utter the word from my mouth.
Have you caught yourself in situations where your dog does not come and you are repeating the command, getting angry and shouting or raising your voice or just give up and let them continue to ignore you?
If you have been doing the homework from the February article and giving your dog all the right reasons to come you are ready for the next step. If not, you need to take some time to review the previous article and do some foundation work.
COME to me means I am in “my spot” and my dog will come to that spot. As long as I call their name and they come to that spot I am a happy dog owner. If I have to leave my spot to go get my dog, I am unhappy and will deliver a correction. Please keep reading to understand this. Some of you are thinking…wait a minute, in the last article you said to never punish for COME? Yes, that is absolutely true. However if the dog does not come and you have to go get them, you are correcting (punishing) for NOT coming.

Here’s a real life example:
Mabel, my French Bulldog is quite independent and headstrong. We did all of the foundation work for COME when called and one day she was out back doing one of her favorite activities…sniffing out guinea hen droppings by the coop. The coop is about 50 feet away from the rear garage door. I leaned outside to call Mabel’s name and she looked (that’s great!). And then I called her to COME. She gave me what can only be described as the French Bulldog finger and went back to doing what she was doing.
Let me ask you: how many of you would have called her again or shouted angrily to get your rear over here?
Here’s what I did: I headed quietly and calmly to “her spot.” She didn’t notice me much as she was busy. When I got to her I picked her up by her little scruff, gave her little scruff shakes all the way back to the house as I firmly told her to COME when I call you. Once I got back to “my spot” I told her she was good and this spot made me happy. The way I broke it down was that me coming to her was bad, and I was unhappy. My happy place was where I wanted her to come to. Does that make sense? To a dog it does. To us it’s hard to understand.
Once I got back to my spot it was very important to me and my dog that she understand I’m not upset now. So you must let your anger, frustration, etc. go as soon as you get back to the happy spot. Your dog will know if you are faking. Trust me.
If your dog runs from you or tries to leave you right away you must address this and need to work on trust building and keep your dog leashed and collared so you can better manage the situation and not put them in the position of running off.
Here’s another great way to work the COME command. Start your dog off on a flexi or long line. You can use a ball or a dummy. I use food.
Start in the middle of an open area where you can throw food, toys, treats that the dog can easily see and target about six feet away from you.
1. Get their attention by saying their name and showing them the reward (food, toy).
2. Say “get it” as you throw it about six feet away and let your dog run to get it.
3. As soon as your dog gets it tell them to COME (remember: happy, excited voice). You want them to run back to you and make eye contact with you as they are coming in to you (like the Name Game – January article) As soon as they come back to you repeat these steps (1-3).
4. Continue to do this for 10, 15 or 20 times. As long as your dog is having fun and running out and back to you quickly you can increase the distance.
Goal: You want your dog to run out to get what you threw and as soon as they get it turn on their heels to get back to you just as fast!

Troubleshooting:
• Do NOT let your dog sniff the ground to see if there are more treats that you threw. Use the long line to give them a little tug to get back to you and don’t forget to use your voice to create desire to get back to you.
• Do NOT sound like a drill sergeant on the return; your dog will slow down. You want your dog running TO you as fast as they run away from you.
• If your dog won’t run out to the treat or toy, you run with them or to it and create excitement for this new game. If you have a soft/sensitive dog that’s been corrected before they may think this is a set up and not enjoy it. You have to make running away and back fun.

Next:
Once your dog is running out for the treat/toy and back quickly you are ready for the first test. You must be ready to use your flexi or long line to stop your dog. If you don’t, you just set your dog up to ignore the most important command (COME!) they could know. Before you do these next steps your dog should be running out 15 or more feet on the long line/flexi to get their reward.
1. Start the game again and throw the treat/toy a few times and let them get it.
2. Throw the toy/treat again and as your dog starts to run off after it say their name and come in a happy voice. Several things could happen.
a. Your dog stops in their tracks and turns and comes back to you, leaving the reward you just threw because you said come. HALLEJULIA! Have a party. Tell them they are amazing. Give them a cookie and then tell them let’s go GET IT and run to the toy/treat they just left for you (the one that you threw). This is awesome! You got it!
b. As soon as you say COME your dog should be turning to come back. If not, STOP THEM RIGHT NOW with the long line/flexi and reel them back to you. Tell them they are good, give them a cookie and start the game again. Make SURE to throw and let them get the cookies at least five or six times before trying to pull them off again.
c. If you are slow and let them get the cookie after you tried to call them off, you have repair work to do. They just self-rewarded and ignored you for calling them. Not a good thing. BUT you can overcome it.

KEY POINTS:
• For every call off you do there must be 10 times as many “get it” opportunities or your dog will become wise to this game, not want to play or you’ll see them run out much slower as they anticipate. You don’t want them to anticipate. You want them to have FUN and be able to listen to you when they are having fun.
• Every time your dog calls off the reward and comes back, praise them, love them out and then run out to the reward they left (to return to you) TOGETHER! That’s the ultimate reward: you leave it, you get rewarded and you get what you left! Double bonus!
• If you ever see your dog slow down you must return to the first four steps to build drive and fun into the chase part of this game.
• If your dog does blow you off and GETS the cookie, you must be faster with your line, call off sooner from the cookie and then do your repair work.
• Timing! If you expect your dog to pull off of a cookie when you call them off from three feet away as they are running, you are going to fail. By the time COME leaves your lips as your dog is running they’ll be on the cookie. Call them off when there is time to stop after hearing you say COME and the cookie’s not right in their face.
Once you’ve been doing this for a while you can move up to the advanced level and do it without a long line or leash BUT be prepared to do damage control if your dog slips up. You don’t want them to develop the bad habit of NOT coming when called if they are running towards a treat, ball, dummy, etc.
COME is a life issue that I have learned. I don’t have fencing at my place or kennel runs and need to know I can let my dogs out and if they see a deer, another dog, etc. I can always call them to come. For those of you that cannot, remember to manage it for your dog’s sake!
I hope to get some requests about other things you’d like to learn about. Have an idea? Let me know! Email me at tiffany@doguespot.com.

Huebner (train@doguespot.com) is the owner of Dogue Spot, the one stop SPOT for Dogue FUNdamentals, located in Otsego, Minn. (www.doguespot.com)

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Come! Part 1

By Tiffany Huebner

Huebner (train@doguespot.com) is the owner of Dogue Spot, the one stop SPOT for Dogue FUNdamentals, located in Otsego, Minn. (www.doguespot.com)

 

What does that word mean to your dog? This seems to be one of the biggest challenges dog owners have with their dogs.
My definition of COME is this: my dogs will come to me immediately no matter what the distraction. Whether they are in hot play pursuit of their favorite dog friend, interacting with people that they just love, calling them off of a dummy/bird or just having fun away from me I want (and need) my dogs to come as soon as I utter the word from my mouth.
What is your dog’s definition of COME? Don’t say “most” of the time they come. That doesn’t cut it. When it really matters (i.e. a life saving instant) will that be one of the times? Train your dogs so that the word COME doesn’t have a multiple choice answer.
So how do you start? Well let’s talk about what’s in it for the dog. To come to you especially when distracted you have to be BETTER than the distraction. Dogs are truthful so if they don’t come when you call while otherwise occupied they are truthfully saying, “Sorry but this over here is way better than you right now.” My first lesson to my dogs is I’m better than anything else out there.
I use my dog’s favorite treat, their dinner or toys to work on come to me from day one. I do this several times a day any chance I get. I Do NOT do it when I know I cannot reinforce that my dog comes to me. (More on this later in the article)
Start in a low-distraction environment. That means no other pets, kids doing other activities, etc. This environment should be someplace your dog cannot wander off when they are bored with you. Try a bedroom, garage or in their kennel run with just the two of you.

1. First rule is energy.
Depending on your dog, you need to determine what gets their attention. Your voice is super important. You must have a positive sounding voice, never angry.

2. Have your reward(s) ready.
This can be a toy, treat or their kibble. Say their name (which they should be really good at since the last article) and then say COME in a positive voice.

3. BACK UP!
As soon as you say the name before you even get toCOME start moving. Movement creates attention (reference our January article.)
Let’s talk about the PAY ZONE. Don’t pay your dog out and away from you. Remember you want them to come to you so pay close attention to your body and in front. Think of a line running right between your eyes and down to your toes. That’s your pay line. Do not pay off to the right or left. You want that dog to understand COME means front and center. This is important because it’s consistently in the same spot for your dog and that makes it easier to understand and remember for your dog.
Stand up! Smile! I know many of you will want to bend over but don’t do it. Bending over sends doggy body language signals to stay out and away. Very few dogs will still come into your space if you bend over and downward on them. Draw a line from your face to the dog when you reward them with the food or toy.
So many times our dogs avoid our hands. This can be a very bad thing in the wrong situation. We want our dog’s to know hands are good. Drive into hands! You teach this by not reaching for your dog and grabbing them. That’s a no-no. Instead hold out one of your hands (the empty one without a treat or toy) so that they have to push into that hand to get to the GOOD STUFF (aka Treat, toys) in the hand closest to your body in the PAY ZONE. I can get a picture if you think it will work. I can try to get it tonight!)
Once your dog has COME to you don’t let them leave after they get the cookie. Keep them engaged into you with further interaction such as verbal praise, additional treats or play with their toy.

Keep in mind that you just want the word COME to mean:
1. Come to ME
a. Directly
b. Reliably
c. Quickly
2. For Good Things
a. Food
b. Treats
c. Play

You must never punish for COME. Think about it from the dog’s point of view. If they come to get in trouble they’ll run the other way. That’s dogs; they are honest. Honestly, if coming causes trouble then I’m going!
Start slowly. Don’t set your dog up to fail. Never call your dog when you know they will not come. We’ll dive further into proofing this life-saving command in next month’s issue.

Top DO List:
• Make COME fun and rewarding
• Practice several times a day
• Use highest value reward and/or toy
• Set your dog up to succeed and keep them on a long line or leash if you have to
• Pay in the PAY ZONE

Top DO NOT List:
• No Angry Faces
• No Angry Voices
• NOT when your dog is unlikely to come
• No bending over/reaching for dog
• NO low value treats/rewards

Bottom Line:
If your dog does not have a reliable recall you must manage them to keep them safe. Please keep your dog tied or in a fenced or otherwise secure area. Your dog’s life depends on it!

Huebner (train@doguespot.com) is the owner of Dogue Spot, the one stop SPOT for Dogue FUNdamentals, located in Otsego, Minn. (www.doguespot.com)

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The Name Game
Look at me when I’m talking to you

By Tiffany Huebner

Huebner (train@doguespot.com) is the owner of Dogue Spot, the one stop SPOT for Dogue FUNdamentals, located in Otsego, Minn. (www.doguespot.com)

Does your dog know his name? Most people readily say “yes” when I ask that question in my basic obedience course. It’s a trick question I ask to get my clients’ … well, attention. Let’s rephrase the question: Does your dog respond to its name when it is otherwise occupied?

Such as:
• Playing with another dog
• Chasing squirrels or rabbits
• Straining on leash to get something they really, really want
• Running to the door after the doorbell rings

What I’m looking for is a resounding, “Yes!” All I have to do is say my dog’s name in a clear voice and he will immediately stop to turn and look at me. And not only that, he’ll wait a few seconds for me to collect my thoughts and tell him to do something. That’s the kind of focus I love seeing and getting from dogs. The best part is…it’s really not that hard.
If you don’t have your dog’s attention, you have nothing. It’s the stepping stone for everything from sit, to come, to walking politely on leash, to retrieving a bird.
Some people use commands like, “watch me,” “look,” “leave it” and others. My thought is, the less words you use the better. Limit your commands and make them really reliable. In my opinion, using words like “leave it,” “watch me,” or “look” are just backups for when something else fails. Saying a dog’s name should mean, “Look at me and wait for further instruction. I want you for something.”
There are lots of ideas about dog training and what I’m about to suggest involves treats. (Before you say “No way!” keep in mind that I train pet dogs, show dogs and hunting dogs. Treat training won’t make them beg, or fat, or bad dogs. Stay tuned for more articles on that!) Go to your refrigerator and get a piece of string cheese or hotdog. Cut it up into one-inch strips. This is important because you want your dog to SEE the treat when you hold it between your fingers.
Put your dog on leash so they cannot just walk away if they get bored. Start in a low distraction environment. If you have multiple dogs, take just one dog and go into a room alone with that dog. You’ll probably have your dog’s undivided attention because you are alone with them and they can smell and/or SEE that you have something they want.
Say your dog’s name in a clear, happy voice and immediately give them a treat AND use verbal praise like, “YES!” The praise is important because eventually, when the treats are gone, and you are in a high-stress or potentially dangerous situation, YOU will be the only reward.

Repeat this about 10 times.
1. Say your dog’s name
2. Dog Looks at you
3. Take a small step back (movement creates more attention…prey drive!)
4. Treat AND Praise

Important: The treat must come from your face. You don’t want your dog looking at your hands for the treats. You want them to look at YOU when you say their name. That’s the point. You have two options to make this happen.
Option 1: Take the treat and hold it by your mouth/nose/eyes when you say your dog’s name. When you give the treat, be sure to draw a straight line from your face to the dog’s mouth.
Option 2: This is my preferred method. I put the treat in my mouth and drop the treats at my dog(s). Sounds gross to some, but I’m telling you it works. They never know if you have something in your mouth or not, so they readily look at your face! Plus, it prevents your dog from becoming hand-focused.
If the treat drops on the floor, that’s great! Let your dog get the treat and immediately say their name so they look right back at you. Take a step backward and have another treat ready. Repeat.

Dog’s Lesson: Look at me for good things in life!
Your Challenge: Try NOT to use your dog’s name to reprimand them. Use a different word so their NAME is a powerful and positive training tool.
It seems like such a little command, but achieving your dog’s undivided attention when you say his name is an integral part of a much larger picture. Life is full of distractions, and getting (and keeping) your dog’s focus keeps you happy, and him out of potential trouble.

Huebner (train@doguespot.com) is the ownerof Dogue Spot, the one stop SPOT for Dogue FUNdamentals, located in Otsego, Minn. (www.doguespot.com)
Watch for next month’s tip on training your dog: Recalls for Life. If you have questions about your dog’s behavior, write to us at mail@outdoorsweekly.com and we’ll try to answer them in the next issue!

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