Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Dog's Attention Span

A common mistake made by everyone from the professional trainer to the average pet owner is training a dog for too long at one time. Under normal conditions the average dog has an attention span of around 15 minutes. During this attentive period a dog is more open to learning and less resistant to control. Beyond the 15 minutes dogs actually become mentally tired and begin to avoid and resist the handler. Young puppies, older dogs, dogs that are just beginning their training and anxious dogs often have even shorter attention spans (maybe five to ten minutes). Dogs that are more experienced with training, and dogs with high drive for food and/or a toy will tend to have longer attention spans. Other factors can effect a dogs attention span. Hot weather can drastically reduce the amount of time a dog remains attentive. Distracting environments will also reduce the dogs attentiveness. Conversely cool weather often lengthens the time a dog is open to training. By training a dog within his/her attention span success is compounded and progress is optimized. Keep training sessions short and sweet and training will be fun and successful for the dog and handler/trainer.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

How to add a rescued dog to your family

When adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue there are a few things that can help create a smooth transition.

If you already have a dog or dogs it is best to introduce the new dog to the current dog(s) one-on-one in a neutral location.

Bringing the new dog into your home for the first time let them acclimate gradually. Be patient, it may take a couple days to as much as a month for the new dog to feel comfortable in it's new home and with its new family.

Provide the dog with a crate. This gives the dog a safe place it can go to be alone. A crate also allows you to slowly immerse the dog into your everyday life. By confining the dog when you cannot watch them you will limit unwanted behaviors from becoming habits in your home.

Do not make excuses or apologies for bad behavior because the dog was abused or neglected. You are giving the dog a good home and should expect good behavior.

Establish the rules of the house right from the start. Show them what you want and praise them for good behavior.

Start obedience training. This will help you to develop a trusting relationship with the dog while giving the dog the structure of your leadership.

If you see problems get help from the rescue and or a trainer right away. The longer you wait the harder the problem will be to fix.

Enjoy the new member of your family.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pet Puppy Selection Simplified

I get asked frequently; how to select a pet puppy. I am going to avoid discussing breed, gender and working aptitude selection in this post (subjects I will address in future posts). Here I will focus on the most basic aspects of selecting a pet puppy.

Far too often puppy selection is made out to be complicated. When testing for social attraction, resistance to restraint, social and elevation dominance, touch/sound/sight sensitivity and prey/retrieve drive, we tend to lose sight of what I believe to be the most important trait a pet puppy can posses, confidence. Assessing confidence can be done simply and fairly informally.

The first impression is important, so start to observe the pup(s) from the moment you arrive. This initial introduction can be the best gauge of confidence. The outgoing pup(s) are confident and show properly developing social skills with people. Separate the pups to observe them individually as well. The pup(s) that shy away, avoid or bond quickly and closely to one person (while avoiding others) are lacking confidence and could develop antisocial or even dangerous behavior as they mature. As hard as it is to leave that cute, shy pup with the puppy-dog-eyes, you will likely be avoiding years of frustration by doing so.

Selecting a pup by color size or cuteness while disregarding temperament should be avoided. If you don't like what you see when evaluating a litter's temperament do not settle. Be willing to leave without a pup and continue your search. When you select a confident puppy you will be setting yourself and the puppy up for a successful life together.

Look for future posts discussing breed, gender and energy level selection as well as selection for working aptitude.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

First Post

This is my first post to this or any blog. I have resisted blogging up to this point but have decided to give in to those urging me to post dog training advice. I hope to use this blog to share my answers to some of the most frequently asked dog training questions. Check back frequently for new posts and don't hesitate to email me to suggest a subject or ask a question.