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ABC of Dog Training

How pooches learn?
It is very important to understand how animals learn. The acronym used by behaviourists is A, B, C, which refers to Antecedent, Behaviour and Consequence. Antecedent is a command or cue. For example, you saying the word SIT is an ‘antecedent’ which is followed by the physical act of the dog sitting down, called the ‘behaviour’ and you giving a treat to your dog is a ‘consequence’. The most fundamental law of conduct states that Consequences drive Behaviours. This needs to be thoroughly understood and internalised by every person who wants to work with their dogs. The Antecedent has little or no effect on driving behaviour.
This means that your dog sits down because of what happened to him when he sat the previous 100 times, and not because you asked him to SIT! The dog SITs because of the history of rewards he received for sitting before. You saying the word SIT just tells the dog that this is a good opportunity for him to exhibit that behaviour and possibly earn a reward. Whether we like it or not, this is how dogs learn.
Aversive training – NEVER!
Aversive (Escape/Avoidance) training causes a depressed and stressed dog who does not want to work with you. Punishment achieves just one thing, it stops the learning process. Consequences can also be aversive. Physical pain, physical pressure, social pressure, denial of rewards are some examples of aversive consequences. A situation when a dog is made to SIT while causing physical pressure/pain on his neck with a choke chain and the dog sits to escape the pressure he feels. Now the consequence to the behaviour of sitting is escaping the pain.
Dogs trained with Escape/Avoidance methods retain the negative emotional baggage associated with the training cue even after the aversive is removed, i.e. if I have caused pain to my dog’s neck every time I pull on the choke chain while saying the word SIT, for say 50 times, the 51st time when I utter the word SIT, the dog experiences the same unpleasantness even if I am not pulling on the choke chain anymore, for the rest of his life. So, dogs trained with Escape/Avoidance methods continue to feel the discomfort even after the aversive is removed. Understandably, this makes the dog passive, slow and unreliable in following commands.
The worst side effect aversive training has is actually on the human who uses these methods. It has been scientifically proven that anger and violence are self reinforcing for the perpetrator, i.e. the person who is getting angry and violent is tricked by his own brain into believing that his anger had an effect on altering the behaviour of the ‘other’. So, he is more likely to continue and amplify the aggressive and violent behaviour, which he carries with him all the time. So, if not for your dog, train with positive methods at least for your own sake.
Positive training – key to well-behaved, happy and active dog
Dogs trained with positive consequences and rewards on the other hand are active dogs. They are enthusiastic and want to learn new things. They are reliable and fast in learned behaviours because just like how the Escape/Avoidance trained dogs carry the pain long after the pain causing agent is removed, the positively trained dogs too carry the good emotional baggage of the training cues for which they got rewarded 100s of  times even after the rewarding has stopped.
How to use positive training?
How does one go about training a dog using positive methods? This is the method used to train almost all the guide dogs, service dogs, military working dogs, sniffer dogs, dolphins, sea lions, horses, elephants, etc in all advanced countries. The holy grail of positive training is called ‘Marker Training’ or ‘Clicker Training’. Marker Training is the most effective way to teach any animal any behaviour and the mechanics of it can be easily learnt by any person, of any age. Marker Training needs NO physical pressure or violence and therefore enables even a six years old to train a 40 kg Doberman. You do not have to be stronger or faster or more dominant than your dog. With Marker Training,
you are training the dog’s mind, not his body. It is a training method based on working with your dog as a partner, based on respect and ethical standards.
Most of all, it is a fun, relaxing and a beautiful experience to connect and work with your pet at a level of mutual respect and understanding. Try it, I promise you will love it!
(Ramachandran Subramanian is an IT professional who has been training dogs for the past 15 years. He currently lives in Chennai.)

Training Tips

Ramachandran Subramanian has been into dog training since 1998. His mission is to spread his knowledge to every pet owner. He has trained dog in US, Australia and India. He is currently in Chennai.


  1. Training needs patience and guided by principle of science & Ethics.Training Tips
  2. Keep the training sessions short and at least train 3 times in a day.
  3. Do not train him when he is stressed, distracted or sick.
  4. Always plan your training sessions ahead of time.

Brush up on training essentials!

A well-trained pooch is a delight to be with. Here are a few basic training tips to help you in achieving your goal.

Socialisation: It is important but do not wait till your pup’s immunisation schedule is complete but begin once he settles down in your home by carrying him around toDog Training meet other people. Once his immunisation schedule is complete, take him for walks to different places to meet other people and dogs as well.
Listen to your dog: If your dog appears to be uncomfortable meeting another dog, animal or human, do not force him to say ‘Hello’. He is telling you that he is not comfortable in the given situation, you should respect that and not force him to comply. Forcing the issue can result in bigger issues down the line, where a nervous dog can turn aggressive on you. At the same time, one must not reinforce fear in their dog by trying to comfort him.
Be consistent: Whenever you are training your dog, it is important to get as many family members involved as possible so everyone is on the same page as you are. If you are telling your dog ‘Off’ when he jumps on the couch and someone else is saying ‘Down’, while someone else is letting him sit on the couch, how is your dog ever going to learn what you want? Consistency is the key to success in training.
Freedom: Let your dog gradually earn freedom throughout your home. A common mistake that most pet parents make is giving their puppy way too much freedom too soon. This can easily lead to toilet training setbacks and destructive chewing. So, close off doors to unoccupied rooms and use baby gates to section off parts of the house, if necessary. One way of achieving sure shot success is to crate train your puppy. Crate training is not just an asset where toilet training is concerned but also plays the role of being a safe den where you can leave him knowing that he is safe and secure when you cannot supervise him.
Tell him what you want him to do: There is nothing wrong with you telling your dog ‘No’, except that you are not giving him enough information. Instead of telling your dog ‘No’ all the time, tell him what you want to do. In other words, ignore unwanted behaviour and praise him when he does the right thing repeatedly, once you have taught him. For instance, if your dog jumps on you as a way of greeting, rather than saying ‘No’, give him a command like ‘Sit’ which helps avoid confusion.
Bribery vs reward: The idea of using treats is most often equated to bribery. If using a treat gets your dog to do what you want out of him, then why not? You can also use the world around you as reinforcement. Every interaction that you have with your dog is a learning opportunity, so when you think about it, you probably don’t use food very often except during training sessions and wean it off in a systematic way. The key to using food treats in a successful way is to make sure that the primary treat must be your voice and touch and the secondary one must be your treat. Just remember that the behaviour should produce the treat, the treat should not produce the behaviour.
Positive reinforcement training techniques: It is not just about giving treats for good behaviour, but it is also about performing movement and exercises in such a way that makes it fun. It is also about using everything that your dog likes or wants to your advantage such as treats, praise, toys, attention, etc. If you have hired a trainer to help you out in the training process, who does not let you tag along for the training sessions and your dog fears him, then it is best that you find yourself another trainer that your dog not only finds a joy to train with but also welcomes him home.
Tire your dog out: Most pet parents do not exercise their dog enough. Pent up energy only intensifies any anxiety a dog may feel, making him more destructive at home in the absence of his pet parent. Depending on your dog’s breed and age, most of them need three walks a day totaling up to an hour each day. Also include games of fetch on a daily basis in addition to his walks.
Negative reinforcement or punishment techniques: Negative reinforcement breeds fear. It makes your dog afraid of you and others. Fear causes aggression and unpredictable behaviour. When a nervous dog learns to bite, he is doing so to protect himself and therefore the bite will be a lot worse.
Have realistic expectations: Changing behaviour takes time. You need to have realistic expectations about your dog’s behaviour as well as how long it will take to change a particular behaviour that you do not like. Often behaviours which are ‘Normal’ doggie behaviours will take the most time such as barking, digging, jumping, etc. You also need to consider how long your dog has been able to practise a particular unwanted behaviour before you have decided to change it. For example, if you did not mind it when your dog jumped to say ‘Hi’ to people for the past couple of years and now you decide that you do not want him to do it anymore, that behaviour will take a longer time to undo than if you had addressed it when he was a puppy. Remember it is never too late to change an unwanted behaviour in your dog, some will just take longer than the others.
(Malaika Fernandes is a certified canine behaviourist and trainer trained at Nothern Centre of Behaviour, UK. She runs Walk Romeo offering training, behaviour modification, grooming and pet sitting services for canines in Mumbai.)

Treats the pawfect training tool

The concept of using food to train is often considered a form of bribery. The fact is that dogs adapt to whatever works best! If you know how to use food, your dog will offer the right behaviour to get it. Else you might end up with a dog who demands a treat or an assurance of one for everything you ask him to do. Here’s the right way to use food/treats to train your dog.

Is using treats good or bad? I would say it is good if you know how to use it. The idea being that you make it another tool in your armoury of training aids. Over dependence on any one tool is not good for training in any case.
Just like us, dogs learn what is right and wrong from their experiences. Dog training involves encouraging the ‘right’ behaviour and discouraging the wrong/undesirable behaviour. This means there should be a substantial difference in what the dog experiences when he offers the right behaviour as compared to the wrong behaviour.
The positive reinforcement…
Traditional training methods involved giving strong corrections so that this difference would be clear to a dog. Using treats adds value to your praise, this makes the difference between desirable and undesirable behaviour clear to the dog without the use of excessive force. Using food to praise the dog when he does right reduces the need for strong corrections.
Of course, treats are the main tool in training with the positive reinforcement techniques. You lure and manipulate the dog to do what you want and then reward him at the right time. The key is timing; the dog needs to understand clearly exactly which behaviour you are marking (that is where a clicker is very handy). The key is that the behaviour should bring out the treat and not the other way around. Avoid luring your dog in to a command, except in the forming stage where you are teaching him the basics of what is ‘sit ‘ or a ‘down’. At other times the dog should just perform the command given, the treat should be like a bonus.
Treat vs. other tools…
One could argue that you could use a toy (ball/tug) instead of food. I agree, but for that you need an experienced trainer and a highly driven dog. For a new trainer and a distracted dog – food works best. Also with a toy, you need to first get the dog on to a toy, and then make him feel it is of such value that he will offer to do anything for it. The skills required for training with a toy are more complex too. You cannot use it to make a ‘sad’ dog ‘happy’ – you would end up rewarding ‘sad’ behaviour! Additionally, when you reward with a toy you are forced to break the behaviour the dog is offering (picture a dog running after his toy) as against food where the dog can continue offering the behaviour (dog is on stay, gets his treat and continues on stay).
So, no matter what training method you use, if your dog is keen on food – use it. It will only
make your job easier. The trick is to use it well.

Tips on how to use food in training…

  • Right timing: The dog should be hungry when you take him out. There is no sense in offering food or treats to a dog who is satiated before you get him out.
  • Love thy treat: The treat you offer should be of high worth to the dog. If your dog gets ‘biryani’ for all his meals, there is no way he’s going to be lured by ‘plain rice’. Few suggestions are – cheese, boiled egg white, premium food kibble, liver, steak, etc.
  • Treat size: When we offer treats to our dogs they should not be too big or too small. Too small will be insignificant for the dog, and the dog might not find it worth to offer behaviour for it. On the other hand, if the chunks are too big, the dog tends to spend too much time chewing on it. This stops you from keeping him on track and breaks the momentum.
  • The fun factor: When offering food, make it exciting for the dog. “What’ve I got,” “Yippee” or some other phrase that gets the dog going and then play a bit with the dog when you offer the food. Don’t just shove it into the dog’s mouth.

All the best and happy training!
(Philip A Butt is CEO of Commando Kennels – Hyderabad, India’s premier dog training kennel. He has pioneered many new dog sports and training techniques in India – Schutzhund, Flyball, Heel walk to music, Agility, French ring sports, to name a few. He is trained in “Arms explosive search dog training and Methods” at the United Kingdom Training Centre of Corporate Search Limited, Nottingham, UK. He also learnt techniques in positive reinforcement training at the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition. UK. As Joint Secretary of the Hyderabad Canine Club, he is an astute dog show organiser)

Training

Training secrets by commando kennels

The concept of using food to train is often considered a form of bribery. The fact is that dogs adapt to whatever works best! If you know how to use food, your dog will offer the right behaviour to get it. Else you might end up with a dog who demands a treat or an assurance of one for everything you ask him to do. Here’s the right way to use food/treats to train your dog.

Is using treats good or bad? I would say it is good if you know how to use it. The idea being that you make it another tool in your armoury of training aids. Over dependence on any one tool is not good for training in any case. Just like us, dogs learn what is right and wrong from their experiences. Dog training involves encouraging the ‘right’ behaviour and discouraging the wrong/undesirable behaviour. This means there should be a substantial difference in what the dog experiences when he offers the right behaviour as compared to the wrong behaviour.

The positive reinforcement…

Traditional training methods involved giving strong corrections so that this difference would be clear to a dog. Using treats adds value to your praise, this makes the difference between desirable and undesirable behaviour clear to the dog without the use of excessive force. Using food to praise the dog when he does right reduces the need for strong corrections.

Of course, treats are the main tool in training with the positive reinforcement techniques. You lure and manipulate the dog to do what you want and then reward him at the right time. The key is timing; the dog needs to understand clearly exactly which behaviour you are marking (that is where a clicker is very handy). The key is that the behaviour should bring out the treat and not the other way around. Avoid luring your dog in to a command, except in the forming stage where you are teaching him the basics of what is ‘sit ‘ or a ‘down’. At other times the dog should just perform the command given, the treat should be like a bonus.

Treat vs. other tools…

One could argue that you could use a toy (ball/tug) instead of food. I agree, but for that you need an experienced trainer and a highly driven dog. For a new trainer and a distracted dog – food works best. Also with a toy, you need to first get the dog on to a toy, and then make him feel it is of such value that he will offer to do anything for it. The skills required for training with a toy are more complex too. You cannot use it to make a ‘sad’ dog ‘happy’ – you would end up rewarding ‘sad’ behaviour! Additionally, when you reward with a toy you are forced to break the behaviour the dog is offering (picture a dog running after his toy) as against food where the dog can continue offering the behaviour (dog is on stay, gets his treat and continues on stay). So, no matter what training method you use, if your dog is keen on food – use it. It will only make your job easier. The trick is to use it well.

Tips on how to use food in training…

  • Right timing: The dog should be hungry when you take him out. There is no sense in offering food or treats to a dog who is satiated before you get him out.
  • Love thy treat: The treat you offer should be of high worth to the dog. If your dog gets ‘biryani’ for all his meals, there is no way he’s going to be lured by ‘plain rice’. Few suggestions are – cheese, boiled egg white, premium food kibble, liver, steak, etc.
  • Treat size: When we offer treats to our dogs they should not be too big or too small. Too small will be insignificant for the dog, and the dog might not find it worth to offer behaviour for it. On the other hand, if the chunks are too big, the dog tends to spend too much time chewing on it. This stops you from keeping him on track and breaks the momentum.
  • The fun factor: When offering food, make it exciting for the dog. “What’ve I got,” “Yippee” or some other phrase that gets the dog going and then play a bit with the dog when you offer the food. Don’t just shove it into the dog’s mouth.

All the best and happy training!

(Philip A Butt is CEO of Commando Kennels – Hyderabad, India’s premier dog training kennel. He has pioneered many new dog sports and training techniques in India – Schutzhund, Flyball, Heel walk to music, Agility, French ring sports, to name a few. He is trained in “Arms explosive search dog training and Methods” at the United Kingdom Training Centre of Corporate Search Limited, Nottingham, UK. He also learnt techniques in positive reinforcement training at the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition. UK. As Joint Secretary of the Hyderabad Canine Club, he is an astute dog show organiser)

Dog Training

Training secrets by Commando Kennels

Two is better than one?

So you’ve decided to expand your family and get a dog. Wow great, but then you think- wait a minute, what if I get two? That would mean double the fun, double the excitement at almost the same cost – right? Wrong!

Why two?

Often prospective pet parents tend to believe that adopting two puppies would be better than having just one. With the busy schedules they have, they find it hard to give time to our dogs. The logical conclusion is that if there are two of them, they would miss them lesser in the day. Probably true, but this one solution creates a whole gamut of other problems.

Here are the top reasons why a pet parent would like to adopt two pups instead of one:

  • Company for the pups when pet parents are away at work or otherwise busy.
  • Since pet parents plan to have two dogs ultimately, they think it’s better to get two at once as the pups would grow to be best friends.
  • Breeder offers a discount on buying two puppies.
  • Social compulsions like neighbours have two dogs or two dogs would look so nice on your Facebook page!!

Two is not always better than one…

My advice to prospective pet parents is that raising two pups together is not a good idea. There are many reasons for the same. To understand why it’s a bad idea, we need to have a basic understanding of dog behaviour especially with regards to their pack drive. Dogs are essentially pack animals, as in you will find them moving, hunting and living in packs in the wild. By pack drive, I mean they are internally wired to fit into a social structure. Without going into too much detail, I would like to emphasise that the pack has a leader. When the dog enters our family, he needs to know where his position is in this pack. Believe me, almost all ‘dog biting pet parent’ cases would be avoided, if only the pet parent had taken little extra care to get this message across to his dominant dog.

What happens usually, when you get a puppy, is that the dog soon realises that he is in a new pack. He also identifies who is the leader of the pack and where is his position in the pack. He just picks it up from the way we interact with each other and the pup. However, when we get two pups at once, they tend to over bond, often to the extent of ignoring the human pack. While the single puppy looks at you for all its social need, the pair feed off each other. On the surface this may seem fine, but it leads to larger problems. Some of which could be:

  • Disciplining becomes an issue as they are always playful.
  • Training becomes difficult as you cannot get their focused attention.
  • Little or no bonding with the pet parent.
  • Dogs fight to establish rank in the pack.
  • Display of dominance to other dogs, family members and guests.
  • Separation anxiety related behaviour when the dogs are separated for a short time.

The behavioural problems…

The recessive one: You can imagine the plight of the recessive puppy, who is growing up with this bully of a sibling. He would have been so much better off in another family. He would have grown into an independent, well adjusted and happy adult. Instead he is left to be bullied for the rest of his life. This pup will never reach his potential as an individual.

The dominant one: It’s not too much better for the dominant pup. He lives in this false sense of security. His energy comes from the fact that he has this push over sibling around. Such dogs show extreme anxiety when alone. They also show aggression towards other dogs.

The facts…

More pups, more time: As for the ‘logical’ reasons for buying two puppies – If you are too busy to rear one pup, rearing two will need more of your time and not less…more potty training, more socialisation, more walks, more play, more tired pet parent!

Friends: you or someone else: Yes, your dog will have a ‘best friend’, but wouldn’t you prefer that best friend to be you?

Sale…he’s not a product, he’s a life: If a breeder offers two pups, I would advise you look somewhere else. No responsible breeder would suggest two pups for the same household. As for the cost, you might save a bit on the puppy, but double everything else – vaccinations, training charges, kennels, travel, boarding, accessories, the list goes on…

Don’t adopt for social compulsion: You are obviously getting a dog for the wrong reasons. Such pet parents usually end up with dogs in the garages and not in their homes. The only difference for them would be that they would be ruining two lives instead of one. Forget two, I would not recommend even one dog!

Rearing two puppies together…

However, if you feel confident, two puppies together is still an option you can consider, provided you bring them up responsibly and follow some rules:

  • Crate/kennel them separately.
  • Take them out for walks separately.
  • Define and assign their together time with structured play.
  • Lots of ‘only human’ interactions.
  • Train separately.

The operative word is ‘separately’. The purpose being, you want them to bond with you more than they bond with each other. You want them to grow individually into confident fully bloomed individuals away from the influence of the other.

Goes without saying that it is going to be lot more effort. Do you want to put yourself through this? It takes a lot of time, commitment and effort to raise two pups together. If you decide to get just one, you will soon realise that it is a lot of fun. Happy rearing!

(Philip A Butt is CEO of Commando Kennels – Hyderabad, India’s premier dog training kennel. He has pioneered many new dog sports and training techniques in India – Schutzhund, Flyball, Heel Walk to Music, Agility, French Ring Sports, to name a few. He is trained in ‘Arms explosive search dog training and methods’ at the United Kingdom Training Centre of Corporate Search Limited, Nottingham, UK. He also learnt techniques in positive reinforcement training at the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, UK. As Joint Secretary of the Hyderabad Canine Club, he is an astute dog show organiser).

Training myths busted!

There are many myths surrounding training your dog. Here are the facts for some of the popular training myths.

Myth: If a dog can’t learn behaviour, he is stubborn, dominant, stupid or a combination of the three.

Fact: Dogs are just like people. Some dogs learn quickly while others will take time and more guidance. If a

Dog Training

MALAIKA FERNANDES

dog is unable to learn, it’s only because the dog is not instructed in a way that he would understand. There are other times when a dog will not learn a behaviour because there has been no ‘REWARD’ at the time when he displayed it and is unaware of what you require from him. Another possibility is to consider whether the dog is physically able to display that behaviour – for instance, in the case of a hip dysplasia, dog may find certain positions of ‘sit’ uncomfortable.

Myth: My dog knows he did something wrong because he looks guilty.

Fact: Dogs do not understand language but yes they are able to gauge from your facial expressions and the tone of your voice. So when you say your dog knows he did something wrong, it’s only because of the tone of your voice, that you would use when you are upset with him. The guilty look displayed by your dog is probably a result of learning to exhibit this to appease angry or upset body language that has worked for him in the past with you.

Myth: A puppy has to be at least six months old to be trained.

Fact: Dogs begin to learn as soon as they are born…yes, their attention span of learning is quite limited but once the puppy is above three months of age and has completed his immunization schedule with ‘positive reinforcement’ techniques, he will learn quicker. After all, it’s important to socialise your puppy as soon as possible to new people and surroundings so that he can grow up to be a confident dog minus any unwanted behaviours.

Myth: The ‘positive reinforcement’ training only works with small/happy/regular dogs, not with tough/large/obstinate/stubborn dogs.

Fact: The ‘positive reinforcement’ training will work with any dog irrespective of size as using force or intimidation tactics on fearful or aggressive dogs is only likely to worsen the situation.

Myth: My dog pulls on leash because he’s dominant, or my dog jumps on me because he’s dominant, or my dog lays on the couch because he’s dominant, or my dog won’t let me clip his nail cause he’s dominant, etc.

Fact: If a dog is engaging in behaviours that you as a pet parent find to be dominating, it’s only because you have not taught him, for instance, not to jump on you, not to pull while on a leash, to allow grooming, etc. With the right teaching techniques which involve praise/toys/food or a combination of the three, undesired behaviours can be brought under control or eradicated.

Myth: Using food in training is bribery.

Fact: A reinforcement or a reward such as food or treats is used more commonly and simply because our canines love them and is an easy motivator to use to get a required behaviour.

Myth: I shouldn’t use food to train because then I will always need food in hand to get my dog to do something.

Fact: Food can be used as a positive reinforcer during training provided that you accompany it with praise before you reward the dog with it. Gradually you can stop using food and use only praise as a reinforcer.

Myth: Using human food for training will make my dog beg at the table.

Fact: Feeding your dog in the dining area will cause him to beg at the table. You can either contact a canine behaviourist to sort out the issue or simply place your dog under a stay command, choose to ignore him or get him to do the ‘go to bed’ command.

Myth: Using head collars will cause neck/spinal injury.

Fact: Collars such as choke chains, pinch collars are known to cause injuries in dogs but regular collars used correctly will not create a problem.

Myth: I heard my dog should work for me only because he wants to please me.

Fact: The bond that we share with our canine is a mutual one where we get unconditional love and companionship and in return we provide food, shelter, exercise, love, etc. So, when a dog does something to make us happy, he does it because it also gets him either love, treats or praise in return.

Myth: If you adopt an older dog, he won’t bond to you or learn new behaviours and how to live with a new family because ‘an old dog can’t learn new tricks’.

Fact: You can train a dog at any age…it’s just that the earlier you begin, the better as you rule out the possibility of any unwanted behaviours. Older dogs are calm and have a better span of attention than puppies. The only time when training takes a little longer with older dogs is when you are trying to reverse an unwanted behaviour.

Myth: My dog is trying to show she is in charge when she doesn’t listen to me.

Fact: Dogs don’t have complex emotions like us. When they don’t listen, it’s simply because the dog has not understood or the dog is not motivated enough to do the required behaviour. Most dogs will not do a recall (come while being called) for their pet parents as through past experience they have learnt that whenever they do. They are leashed and taken back home when they would rather stay outside and explore.

Myth: It’s always the pet parent’s fault when a dog misbehaves.

Fact: This is sometimes the case with pet parents who have been ill informed about training methods and have attempted to train their dogs using force and intimidation. However, a bad dog doesn’t always necessarily mean a bad pet parent as there are some dogs who are aggressive due to breeding malpractices, etc.

Myth: When a dog chews up furniture or destroys furniture, it’s because he’s punishing the pet parent.

Fact: When a dog indulges in destructive behaviour, it could simply mean lack of exercise, boredom, separation anxiety, attention seeking behaviour and in a puppy’s case teething behaviour.

Myth: My dog is urinating in the house because he’s angry that I left him alone.

Fact: If your dog is urinating in the house, there are certain things to consider. Maybe he has developed a urinary tract infection, is suffering from separation anxiety, maybe you left him for long and he couldn’t control his bladder, not fully toilet-trained or indulging in attention seeking behaviour. Consult your vet.

Myth: When your dog has a potty accident, it’s important to rub his nose in it to let him know what he did.

Fact: By rubbing your dog’s nose in his own mess will not teach him toilet training. On the other hand, it will teach him to sneak and do his bathroom in another place when you’re not around to avoid a similar confrontation with you making toilet training a difficult exercise.

Myth: You should never play tug of war… this creates aggression.

Fact: Tug of war is a game that you can play with your dog as long as you play against gravity and teach your dog that it’s never alright to put their teeth on your skin when they grasp the toy in their mouth. Also the dog must know to ‘leave’ on command.

Myth: A dog shouldn’t sleep with you or be allowed on furniture or he’ll think he’s the boss and misbehave.

Fact: As a pet parent it’s entirely your choice if you wish to allow the dog on the furniture but if you have a dominant dog on your hands, then it’s best advised to not allow the dog on furniture.

Myth: Shelter dogs have too much baggage. It’s better to adopt a puppy to start with a clean slate.

Fact: Many shelter dogs are well behaved and are not kept by the previous pet parents for several reasons. Adopting an older dog lets you skip the testing stages of potty training and teething. However, before adopting an older dog, it is always best to consult a canine behaviourist who can assess the dog for any behavioural issues and will help you adopt one suitable to your home.

Myth: All dogs should enjoy being around other dogs.

Fact: Just like us, no two dogs are the same, some dogs do not like to socialise with other dogs while some do. Various factors such as breeding, lack of socialisation, etc could attribute to a dog who doesn’t want to mingle with his own kind.

Myth: You should let dogs fight it out when they get into a scuffle.

Fact: This is partly true in the case of maybe a home where a new dog is causing unrest in the pack order established in which case the first fight must have a winner and a loser to avoid more fights in the future. However, as a pet parent, if you have already interfered in the first fight and your home has now turned into a canine war zone, it’s best to contact a canine behaviourist to solve the problem. Remember if you would have contacted a canine behaviourist in the first place, you wouldn’t have had any trouble as prevention is better than cure. Also when the dogs are engaged in a fight, it’s best to distract them with a loud noise, doorbell, treat, etc but don’t try to separate them physically as you would probably be rewarded with a dog bite.

Myth: A dog can’t really be happy unless he can run off leash.

Fact: A leash is a tool that safe- guards your dog against on-going traffic to avoid accidents and a trained dog is quite content to be on leash by the pet parent’s side. Off leash play must only be engaged in an enclosed surrounding

Myth: Dogs are great judges of people, so if a dog doesn’t like someone, it must mean there is something wrong with that person.

Fact: Dogs do have a sixth sense to pick up on cues that go unseen by us but majority of the dogs who display fear or aggression need to do so to safe guard themselves.

(Malaika Fernandes is a certified Canine Behaviourist-Trainer and is Director at Walk Romeo based in Bandra that caters all pet care services like training, behaviour modification, grooming, etc.)

Dog training classes… for pettiquettes

You have undoubtedly experienced frustration with your best buddy, from time to time. And, even though you know it’s not always your dog’s fault, blame is easy to cast when your emotion runs high. Behavioural problem with our canine companions is considered to be a common trouble faced by almost every dog owner.

The dog’s mind…

All dogs have evolved from wolves. The dog’s mind is filled with the hierarchy in pack system. The dog willDog Training always obey the leader of the pack in which the trainer normally turns to be the leader. Hence it’s very important for the owners to train their dogs.

It is for reasons like these, Dog Training for Owners emphasises training you too. Being your dog’s best friend, you are the best person to teach him because, believe it or not, he wants to please you, and looks at you for guidance. Working closely with your canine companion also strengthens the bond between two of you, which makes communication with him much easier. Before you know it, blame will become a thing of the past.

Dog training for owners…

The key to success in any dog training programme begins with the owner of the dog. Dog Training for Owners knows that each dog is different. Not only do dogs vary in breed, size and age, they are unique individuals with different personalities, energy levels, likes and dislikes, so on…

Obedience training – a must…

Housebreaking… solution at hand

  • get several complaints from the owners that their pup relieves in their absence or in a secluded spot when no one’s watching. Here’s how to handle this situation:
  • Start toilet training as soon as your pup reaches home.
  • Take the pup to the designated place after he wakes up from sleep or after food.
  • Whenever your pup is doing his job at the wrong place, say a loud ‘NO’.
  • Take the pup to where he should do it.
  • Timing is very important; there is no use in pointing at the pee later.
  • Give him a treat if he does his business at the right place. A treat may be anything easily available – a piece of biscuit. Remember treat goes into the mouth while the pup is peeing, not before or later.
  • Do not use that particular treat for anything else.
  • Be patient and positive.

On a continuous practice, the pup understands that if he dirties inside, he gets a ‘NO’. But if he goes outside to pee, he gets a treat. The whole thing looks very simple but needs patience and practice.

Obedience training is very important in dogs. Dog training classes is not only aimed at dogs alone but also lay emphasis on teaching the owner or handler. The dog handler should use the techniques taught as often as possible. If the dog does not obey, he must reinforce his techniques. The dogs and their handlers learn more about each other when they attend the classes together.

What dog training classes teach…

The dog training classes teach them how to work in synchronisation with each other. Dog training classes are considered important because it helps the dog socialise with fellow dogs and the people around. Otherwise, a dog would be barking mad every time the neighbour comes to your door. The six basic instructions are heel, sit, stay, recall, down and close. These instructions are enough to get a dog under control when he is agitated to do something. Hyperactive dogs need these instructions, to prevent themselves from turning the house upside down. Dog training classes lay stress on use of positive training.

Remember, a well-trained pooch implies a happy and well-behaved pooch and a proud pet parent as well.

(Amrut Sridhara Hiranya is a canine behaviourist trained at UnitecAuckland, New Zealand. He runs Dog GuruKull in Bengaluru).

Puppy socialisation and training

It is extremely important to socialise and train the puppy in his early days to ensure a happy and balanced relationship between him and his pet parents.

Period of socialisation…

Socialisation is a lengthy learning phase during which the puppy acquires all the behaviours needed for life in the pack. This stage begins at the age of six weeks and ends arbitrarily around the age of four months.

Imprinting the puppy…

The puppy is born into the world not knowing to which species he belongs. He has to identify with his species. He will acquire this information in a unique, almost irreversible learning process, which is called ‘imprinting’. A poorly imprinted animal is a lost cause for the species. This learning process occurs through games with his brothers and sisters and his mother. As an adult, this will enable him to recognise his sexual partner and to avoid rejection with other members of his own species.

If, however, a puppy is raised with other species (humans, cats, rabbits, even a stuffed animal), he may end up identifying with the species with which he lived. If there is a complete absence of other dogs between three and more or less sixteen weeks, the puppy will identify with the nearest species (human, cat, rabbit), or even a decoy (stuffed animal).

As an adult, this will lead to social preferences as well as courting behaviour and attempts to mate with the species he identifies with and aggressive behaviour towards his own species.

In order to avoid this type of situation, the puppy must be raised in a group, with his mother, until he is at least eight weeks old.

Socialising with other species…

Dogs are not programmed to interact socially with a foreign species (cat, human, rabbit). Hence, it is important for them to socialise with other species, especially with different types of people (men, women, children). This interaction must continue until after two months of age. The interactive presence of other species will lead to inter-specific socialisation and attachment that goes against predatory behaviour.

House-training a puppy…

Starting from the age of two months, that is, after the puppy’s first vaccinations, the puppy should be taken outside. He should be taken out every five to six hours when he first wakes up and after meals until the age of four months. At first, choose a place or even a newspaper that is saturated with the puppy’s own odour. In the beginning, as soon as the puppy relieves himself at the desired place, he should be systematically rewarded either through voice or by petting. The technique of using newspaper inside the house should be banished because the dog will associate this with the place of elimination and stick to it. Even if he goes out, he will wait until he goes back inside the house to take care of his needs. When out walking, never end the walk as soon as the dog has taken care of his needs, because he will quickly learn to associate needs with the end of the walk.

Training to obey by reward or punishment…

In order to be effective, the reward method must adhere to several principles. The reward should be significant for the dog. In other words, the pet parent should praise the dog through contact and abundant caresses and speak to him warmly. It should be exceptional in nature, such as giving unusual treats.

As for punishment, in order to be effective, it should be used when the dog is caught in the act and should be given out at the same time. It must be unpleasant in nature for the dog and must be meted out systematically for every punishable act, which is sometimes very difficult since the pet parents do not always catch the dog in the act. Punishment after-the-fact will cause anxiety and will aggravate the situation. Punishment can be direct, for example, grabbing the dog by the skin of his neck, which replicates the maternal behaviour and shaking him by lifting him up slightly. Contrary to popular opinion, it is possible to give the dog a slap of the hand. It is also possible to punish a dog from a distance by throwing a non-dangerous object that will make noise at him.

Learning by reward requires more time than punishment, but on the other hand, it sticks longer. When punishing a dog, it is necessary to recognise the submission position because at that very instant, punishment must immediately stop.

Teaching obedience is easy…

Dogs must be taught to come when they are called and the ideal age to start is four to five months. Some dogs do not come when they are called. They come to within a few meters of their pet parent and stop. As soon as the pet parent approaches the dog to catch him, the dog runs away again. Do not become annoyed and certainly do not punish him or he will associate punishment with having come back to you. On the contrary, when he comes back, you should praise him, pet him and above all, you should not immediately put him back on the leash. Instead, let him go back to playing. If every time he is called, it means putting the leash on and going back inside, it will be a punishment for him.

The need to be “detached”…

When a puppy is brought into a home, he becomes attached to a person and vice versa. By the age of four to five months, you must prompt separation. If this is not done, as soon as the puppy is separated from the person to whom he is attached, he will become panicked and distressed. Start ignoring him 30 minutes prior to departure. When you return, if the dog jumps all over you, push him away and do not respond. As soon as he is calm, then act happy to see him and pet him. If he has caused damage, act as though you do not see him, even though you may want to punish him.

Rules of living in the house…

He must eat alone. He should not be allowed to beg at the table, but he should have the right to be present when his owners eat. He should not be allowed to jump up on beds or sofa without permission from his pet parents. His sleeping area should be located in a quiet spot where he can rest. If he nips at hands, you should stop him from doing so and firmly push him away. You should also avoid tug-of-war type games (with a toy, a piece of stick, a rag) because this encourages biting, which is far from desirable for a future companion animal. You should not pet a puppy on demand. As with play, it is up to you to decide when to play and to initiate contact and petting.

Dog Training

Visual cues are key to training a deaf dog

How sad you feel when you realise that your pooch doesn’t respond to your commands, ignores the doorbell…not because he doesn’t want to obey but because his hearing is impaired! Here’s how to communicate with your lil one.

Why hearing loss occurs?

Hearing loss in dogs is relatively common and can have variety of causes, including old age, infectious diseaseDog training or reactions to medications. Some dogs are born deaf, having inherited a gene that predisposes them to the condition. This gene is often found in white dogs or those with a mottled coat. Dalmatians and white Great Danes are among such breeds.

Making life meaningful with communication

  • First and foremost, remember that he’s a dog and even though he can’t hear, he will have the same instincts as any other dog.
  • It’s important to treat the dog as normally as possible.
  • Don’t baby him, or shy away from all the regular things you would do with a normal dog.
  • Most deaf dogs compensate for their loss of hearing by making heightened use of their other senses, including sight, smell and touch.
  • They can be more responsive than average to non auditory cues, an important factor that helps make the training process easier.
  • And some older dogs will respond to a very loud hand clap or stomping on the floor as they may pick the vibrations in the floor.
  • Learn the fact that you and your dog have to rely on visual cues and commands as the vocal commands like “come”, “stay” or “sit” don’t apply.
  • Socialization is critical. You might think that because your dog can’t hear, he needs to be kept close by your side at all times. On the contrary, a deaf dog can easily learn to interact positively with other people and dogs.
  • Be vigilant when your dog is around other canines. They can always see when a dog is snarling at them.
  • When people are greeting your dog, tell them to smile and avoid direct eye contact and offer him a palm to sniff.
  • In a market place, there is a device called pager collar which gives vibrating signals to your dog.
  • If you are taking them to a new place, be careful and never keep your dog off leash.
  • Make sure that you don’t startle your deaf dog by “sneaking up on him”, especially while he’s asleep.
  • To wake a deaf dog, place your hand near his nose so he’ll smell you, or scratch the floor or pillow near him so he’ll feel that. Since he may be startled, you can make waking up or sudden touch more pleasantly by immediately offering him a treat.
  • You can actually condition your dog to find being startled to be pleasant — just associate something he likes (such as a food treat) with a startle.
  • Watch strangers (especially children) and don’t let them touch him unless he’s recognied that they’re there.
  • Never get angry, jerk, hit or push your pet for unwanted behaviour. Instead, ignore it and focus on rewarding the behaviour you do want.

Tips for training a deaf dog

  • Dogs who can’t hear have to rely on vision to keep tabs on what’s going around them and more likely to be influenced by visual distractions.
  • Use clicker training using a flashlight. For this, you will need an instant on-off light with a button rather than a sliding switch. Do not use a laser light though.
  • When using sign language, it’s important to keep the signs consistent, so that the dog learns to recognise specific gestures as commands.
  • Train with you back to a wall or even in a corner so that your dog is able to focus more exclusively on you.
  • Be in his line of sight and never approach him from behind.
  • Smile, so that he can see your expression and will come to regard the training as a happy experience.
  • Last but not the least, reward the dog for good behaviour.

Teaching various commands Teaching ‘Come’

  • Flash a light or wait until your pet notices you.
  • Show a treat when the dog looks at you and give the hand signal for come by extending your hand straight up and then reward your dog when he comes to you.
  • Keep on practising with the treat and then slowly cut down on treats concentrating on commands.
  • Make sure you use the correct facial expressions.

Teaching ‘Yes’ or ‘Good Dog’

  • To teach the sign ‘Yes’ or ‘Good Gog’ is to use thumbs up. Repeat it several times. Teaching ‘No’
  • The best way to use the command ‘No’ or ‘Stop’ is to flash your palm in a very firm way.

Teaching ‘Sit’

  • Start making you own signs. For example, to teach a dog to sit, put a treat over his nose and then move it slowly backwards until he sits. Then, add a sign to it.

Training a dog with hearing loss involves some extra challenges but it can be a rewarding experience. You are learning along with your dog. Common sense and ability to think outside the box! Don’t be limited by a lack of imagination. Find a way to make it work.

(Niharika Virmani is a graduate in Animal Behaviour and Pet Grooming from Nash Academy of Animal Arts, Kentucky, USA in the year 2007. She has her own day care and mobile grooming called Happy Tails in Mumbai.)