Website:  www.AriesDogTraining.com

Hello everyone!

My name is Arie, and I’m a local Professional Dog Trainer working with the Luvin’ Labs Foundation, and Colleen has been generous enough to give me a weekly column on this website so I can provide all of you lab lovers with some tips and info on dog training and behavior. I’d like to take a minute to introduce myself and one of my own dogs, “Sarge,” who has requested to be my column assistant.

Starting with my career as a dog trainer…

I grew up with animals, and have been training dogs since my first dog: a very sweet but dog-aggressive yellow Labrador Retriever. She inspired me to start really working with dogs who need behavior training, and I’ve been teaching dog obedience and doing behavior-modification training ever since. After being certified with the Penn Foster Career School as a Dog Obedience Instructor, I opened my own training business, Arie’s Dog Training, and taught in-home behavior-modification sessions (which is what I currently provide for the Luvin’ Labs Foundation). I now work for Jack & Rascal’s on the Westside as the trainer, and teach all obedience classes, agility, AKC CGC classes, and private sessions.

I currently have three dogs: a Border Collie named Kaiser, a Miniature Schnauzer named Savs, and my Column Assistant, “Sarge” – a 15-month-old German Shepherd Dog, who would like to introduce himself. He’s quite independent like that.

Sarge at work!

From Mr. Sarge:

Hey all! I go by “Sarge,” but my full name is Sergeant Phantom. “Sergeant” just because it fits, and “Phantom” because my coloring, sable, makes me practically invisible at night… especially when I was puppy. I was born on Memorial Day of last year, and Arie got me when I was about three months old. That feels like forever ago… as I weigh almost 90 pounds now. (That’s almost 630 dog-pounds!) I’ve been told that I’ve been the greatest dog. I have an awesome temperament, I love kids and other dogs, and my favorite thing in the whole world is to play fetch. I basically grew up in Mom’s obedience classes, so I’m well-trained and allowed to go with her everywhere. (I really love going to flower shops!) I’m excited to help out with this column, and give my own advice to all the other dogs and puppies out there.

Signing out,

Sarge

Lesson #7:

Introducing another Dog

At some point, most of us will have one dog (or more) at home and will adopt another dog. This can be a lot of fun for you and your dogs, but it can often be a tricky task if one or more of the dogs aren’t very good at politely meeting new dogs. Here are a few steps to follow to make this process go as smoothly as possible.

  1. Take your dog to meet as many new dogs as possible before he or she meets the new dog you wish to adopt. You can visit dog parks, friends’ dogs, pet stores that allow pets, etc. Praise for any calm, positive behavior of your dog; including simply ignoring the other dog. If your dog starts staring intently at the other dog, growling, or exhibiting any other aggressive or unwanted behavior, immediately remove him or her from the situation. Briskly turn around and walk the other direction, and return to the new dog once your dog is being calm and relaxed. Do this as many times as necessary, always remembering to praise for good behavior with treats and/or love.
  2. Before you actually take home your new dog, arrange for your existing dog(s) to meet the new dog. For example, if you are adopting your dog from a rescue organization or a shelter, there will usually be a place for the dogs to meet. Have both dogs on-leash, and bring treats and toys (assuming neither dog is food- or toy-possessive). Also have at least one person per dog; this means if you have two dogs and you’re going to meet your new dog, you will need three people, so each person can be responsible for handling a dog.
  3. With all dogs still on-leash, take them all out for a walk. Let them get as close to one another as you and the dogs are comfortable with, but keep moving. Remember to praise all dogs for good behavior, and try to keep the walk fun and as up-beat as possible. Your attitude may well affect the dogs, so try to stay relaxed and stress-free while introducing the dogs. You may want to repeat this meeting once more before you actually take the new dog home with you.
  4. If all goes well with the meet-and-greets and with the new dog, then you’re ready to take the new dog home. Once you bring him or her home, take both/all of the dogs out on another walk before bringing the new dog into the home or yard. Once you return from the walk, you may want to let the new dog explore your house and yard while your existing dog(s) remain in another room. Then you can let the dogs interact on their own (in a large space such as the back yard), but watch them just to ensure that the dogs are getting along. Depending on whether or not the dogs are exhibiting stress, you may want to let the dogs each have some alone time after meeting and playing with the new dog at your home. After this, the dogs should be fine with one another and should begin enjoying their new friend.
  5. If you start having problems with the dogs (aggression, extreme jealousy, etc.), you should contact a professional as soon as possible to ensure that problems do not worsen. However, if introduced properly, most dogs are fine with each other in a matter of a day or so.

If you have any further questions on this matter or need assistance with introducing a new dog to your family, please contact me atAriesDogTraining@hotmail.com.

Good luck, and enjoy your new family member!

Lesson #6:

Finding a Great Obedience Class

Hello again, everyone!

This week, I’d like to talk about how to find a great, productive, beneficial puppy class that’s fun for both dog and owner. There are many facilities offering doggie classes… how do you choose the best one? Here are seven lucky tips to help you find an obedience class that’s perfect for you and your dog.

1. Fun

First things first: whether for an adult dog or a puppy, an obedience class should be fun. You should want to go, and so should your dog. If after a couple weeks of class your dog is obviously not excited to be in class, and you find it to be a drag to go, then it’s a bad sign.

2. Previous Clients

If at all possible, when looking for an obedience class, ask for some referrals of previous clients that have taken the class. This isn’t always available, but check into it. Also ask around (friends, people at dog parks, etc.) if they have attended or heard anything good or bad about the class you’re looking into.

3. Humane Treatment

This is very important, yet is often over-looked, simply because a lot of people thing that certain types of training are “to be expected” or “how all of the classes are.” This is not true. You as a person should be respected in the class, as well as anyone you’re with (friend, children, partner, parent, etc.), and your dog should be respected. Training should Always be fun, and there should never be anything even resembling punishment in class, unless it’s absolutely called for. If you feel uncertain about a training method used in class or suggested, don’t hesitate to either speak up (your classmates may feel similarly), or don’t use the method suggested.

4. Number of Commands

This shouldn’t necessarily be a deal-breaker for a class you’re looking into, but when searching for an obedience class, you might want to ask what kind of commands the class teaches. “Sit” and “down” and “stay” will obviously be in all of them, but some classes offer more (in my class for example, I also teach “wait,” “stop/sit,” “leave-it,” and more). Some classes will offer a much wider variety of commands than others. Also, while you’re asking about commands the dogs will learn, ask what the typical class size is. One trainer for 12 dogs is not going to be a successful class, while one trainer for six dogs is going to be much better.

5. Training Methods

Another over-looked idea in the obedience class world: consider the methods that the trainer uses to teach the dogs in your class. There are thousands of trainers out there, all with their own styles and methods. What is important to you, however, is that the trainer is capable of using different methods for individual dogs. Not all dogs are the same, and not all training methods should be the same. The trainer’s methods should be generally positive, variant for different dogs, and always have a purpose. If at any point you don’t understand why the trainer suggested a style of training, simply ask.

6. Behavior Help

Again, not all classes offer this, but you should certainly look for a class (and trainer) that offers behavioral advice for your dog as well as teach the basics. Not all behavior problems can be solved or helped simply by verbal advice, but the trainer should be more than willing to answer any behavior questions you may have, and maybe even discuss in class common behavior problems.

7. Your Overall Impression

Lastly, trust your instincts on your overall impression of the class. First meet the trainer of the class you wish to join, and ask if you can watch a class before you join. Once you have joined your chosen class, observe your fellow classmates and, more importantly, the other dogs in the class. In an ideal class, there will be low stress, it should be fun, minor behavior issues should be addressed, and the class should be making considerable progress on the commands it aims to teach.

Use these tips in your search of a dog/puppy obedience class, and you will find a great class that is right for you and your dog. If you have any further questions, feel free to email me at AriesDogTraining@hotmail.com.

Also, I do currently teach basic obedience classes (as well as many others) on the Westside, and I would be happy to talk to you about the classes I teach.

~Arie, Savs, and Sarge

(Savs at age 5 and Sarge at 10 weeks)

Lesson #5:

The Jumping-up Problem

Most dogs I see have a similar problem that their owners are never fond of, and that is: jumping up. While it’s quite natural for dogs to jump, we find it very annoying when our family pet continues to jump up; be it on furniture, jumping to see what’s on the counter, or jumping on us. Today I’ll focus mainly on the dogs who jump up on people. Let’s start with why dogs jump on people to begin with.

Why Dogs Jump
Dogs will jump for many reasons. Some have that spingy-ness in their nature; some have learned it as a puppy. Most dogs however just want to be by our faces, and since our faces are up higher, it results in the dog jumping on us. If you watch your dog around other dogs, especially new dogs, he/she will tend to be very “facial;” they will lick or sniff the other’s dog face. They are similar with us; they like to be by our faces, so they jump up to say hi to us.

The “Old School” Method of Stopping It
If you’re a little older, chances are you know the “old school” method to try to stop dogs from jumping up, and that is to knee the dog in the chest when he jumps up. However, this is unlikely to work for two reasons: The first being that the dog still gets the physical contact that it wants, even if it’s somewhat unpleasant. Secondly, how do you knee a really little dog in the chest?

The “New School”/More Effective Methods of Stopping It
Luckily, trainers have come up with a newer, much more effective method of stopping dogs’ jumping habit. This newer method is very simple, but consists of a few steps, and you must be Very consistent with this new method in order to teach the dog to consistently stop jumping. Here’s how it goes:
1. Whenever the dog jumps on you, simply turn around and ignore the dog. Do not push the dog off or say “off” or “get down” or anything; what we’re teaching the dog is that when she jumps up, she disappears, and gets no attention whatsoever.

A. Secondly, and most importantly, always remember to pet the dog when she’s not jumping. This teaches her that something does get her the attention that she wants, and that is to stay on the ground.

B. Also very important: make sure that everyone the dog encounters practices this turn-around-and-ignore-the-dog-until-she’s-down method, otherwise the dog will simply learn that it’s ok to jump on some people and not on others.

2. For most dogs, the above method will be the most beneficial, given some time (two weeks at least). Though, for the more stubborn dogs, there is a second idea to kick the jumping-up habit: use time-outs. Time-outs are very efficient because they certainly get the dogs’ attention, and the dog will work to figure out what got her put in the time-out, and also how to avoid it.

When using time-outs for jumping, begin with the first method described above. When the dog keeps jumping up, take her directly into a time-out. This can be in a crate, or in a small room such as a bathroom, for two minutes. Then let her out, and let her try again. If she jumps, she goes in time-out. Remember to only keep her in time-out for two to three minutes tops, and to always pet her when she has her paws on the ground.

3. For the few dogs who the above methods don’t work for, there is a last resort method to stop dogs from jumping up. As soon as you get home (or whenever the dog tends to jump on you), immediately put the dog’s leash on and let her drag it around. As soon as she comes up to you, step on the leash as close as you can, and you can then pet her without her being able to jump up. This method isn’t quite as effective as the first two, and should be the last method used.

With all of these techniques, you must remember to give your dog the attention he/she wants when all four paws are on the ground. It will most likely take some time for the jumping to stop, because first we must break the dog’s jumping habit, then we must build a new habit of not jumping. With consistency (of Everyone) though, the dog will learn how to get love and attention without angering guests, muddying clothes,  and knocking small children over. Good luck, and you may always contact me with any further questions.

AriesDogTraining@hotmail.com

Lesson #4:

Beyond the Basics

Think your dog knows it all? Good! I would like to challenge those of you out there whose dogs are past the basics of sit, down, stay, and basic manners. There are tons of other commands you can teach them, without even going into the real formal commands. Not only is training good for the bond between you and your already-well-behaved dog, but dogs always need mental stimulation to keep them happy, out of trouble, and healthy. Here is some advanced work you can try with your dog.

Distance Work

Most dogs will listen when they’re right beside you. On the other hand, when they’re further away, they seem to forget even their basic commands. Try working on sit, down, stand up, etc. from a distance. For example, start up-close with the dog in a “sit,” step back slightly, then ask the dog for a “down.” Move closer to the dog if she doesn’t do it, and keep working to get more and more space between you and your dog until she’ll listen from ten feet away or further.

Stay: Taken to the Next Level

Stay can be difficult for dogs to thoroughly grasp, but once they get it, it’s quite easy for them. Try then to have them stay for longer periods, such as a one-minute sit-stay, two-minute down stay, or longer. You can also teach them the “stand-stay,” and see how far away you can get from them. To really up-the-stakes, try putting them in a “stay,” and gently tugging on the leash. Once dogs know this, they will actually brace themselves against the light tugs against the leash. Lastly, try out-of-sight stays: go around a corner, into the other room, etc.

Heel: Stepped-Up

The first thing dogs learn with “heel” is to not pull on the leash. After your dog has mastered this, work on new aspects of heel: such as heeling backwards, heeling while walking at faster or slower speeds, and sitting every time you stop. Then, try heeling off-leash. Make sure the dog learns to stay right beside you (preferably on the left side), and watches where you go, so as to not lag behind or pull ahead.

Advanced commands such as those suggested above can be really fun and very rewarding for you and your dog. (They’re also fun to show-off with!) Have fun with these new commands, and keep your dog learning.

P.S. – From Sarge:

Apparently, I’m going in for surgery this Thursday; I have to get neutered. So I’ll be out of the office for a week or so, and I’m going to do my best to not chase the ball, and to just relax until I’m all healed and ready to play and go to work again. While I’m gone, I’ll leave you with a replacement column-assistant for the time-being: my ‘little sister’ Savs. Wish me luck and I’ll be back in a couple weeks!”

~Sarge and Savs

For help with commands or for any questions regarding training or behavior, please email me at AriesDogTraining@hotmail.com.

Lesson #3:

Puppies!

Everyone loves puppies, and there are tons of advantages to getting a dog at a very young age, such as building an early bond, not having to work the dog out of previous bad behavior habits and/or negative experiences, and just being able to start from the beginning with the dog. However, puppies come with many puppy problems (which is why there are hundreds of books on puppies), and every puppy takes time and patience to train them to be the great, well-behaved dog everyone wants. Today, I’ll summarize three main points about owning a happy, well-behaved puppy, and those are:

1. Socialize 2. Supervise 3. Exercise

1. Socialize Your Puppy

Puppies need Lots of socialization. This is what makes them smart, social, confident dogs, that do not have fears of people, objects, or new noises and things. Since puppies don’t have all of their shots until mid-puppyhood, it’s best not to take them places where they can pick up diseases, such as parks, dog parks, etc. until they are fully vaccinated. You can however expose them to all kinds of things by taking them for car-rides, letting them meet lots of new people, bring healthy dogs for them to meet at your house, taking them to puppy class, and more.

2. Supervise Your Puppy

The main, biggest mistake I see people make with puppies is that they let their puppy wander too much without supervision. To ensure that your new dog isn’t getting into something toxic or chewing up your new couch, they Must be supervised 24/7. If this isn’t possible, take them to doggie day care (when they’re old enough), put them outside (assuming it is puppy-proofed), or baby-gate them in the kitchen or a space where they cannot destroy anything too important. Supervision is also key with housetraining, because if you’re always watching the puppy when she’s inside, you can take her outside before she’s about to have an accident. Supervision will guarantee that the dog doesn’t start bad chewing habits, fault in housetraining, or get into anything deadly, which can be anything from swallowing a super ball, to eating a deadly house plant. Always, always, always watch your puppy, or put them somewhere safe.

3. Exercise Your Puppy

Lastly, it’s very important to exercise your puppy. Just as the first post emphasized the importance of exercising your dog, puppies are no exception. Puppies are fairly easy to wear out (depending on their age), but this will prevent a lot of unnecessary destruction of your house and yard if you can tire your little one out. A lot of people are worried about over-exercising young dogs, but this really is nothing to be concerned about. What’s important is that the puppies get a lot of mental stimulation, and exercise on flat ground. What we don’t want is dogs under a year old (especially large-breed puppies) jumping off of things, such as couches, beds, outdoor things, etc. This is where dogs can hurt themselves and cause permanent injuries. Yet if you can wear your pup out by runs, jogs, play, and so on, this is what will keep him happy and out of trouble.

Puppies are one of the reasons I have a job as a dog trainer, so I know they’re a lot of work. But be patient, keep up with them, and they will be more than worth it in the end.

Here are some websites to help with puppy problems and info:

http://www.the-puppy-dog-place.com/

http://www.dog-obedience-training-review.com/

If you have further questions on puppy behavior, feel free to email me.

Have a great week!

“He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog.
You are his life, his love, his leader.
He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart.
You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion”
— Unknown

AriesDogTraining@hotmail.com

Lesson #2

Canine Food & Nutrition 101

Hello again everyone! Thanks to everyone who came out to Fastino’s for the fundraiser event. It was a great event and I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did. This week, I wanted to talk a little about canine nutrition and the food we feed them. For most of us, we truly want the best for our dogs, but we unknowingly feed them very unhealthy foods. I would like to give you the basics on what should and what should not be in your dog’s main diet, so your dog can start living a longer, healthier life. First…

When considering what food to buy for your dog, you should always:

  1. Read at least the first five to ten ingredients on the bag
  2. Consider your dog’s coat, as this is often a good indicator of diet
  3. Do not be solely influenced by commercials or dog food packaging
  4. Do not be reassured by that foods with names such as “healthy formula” or “smart blend” etc.; these are often inadequate foods that are trying to get your attention and appear to be healthy. Read the ingredients.

The main ingredients that you do not want in your dog’s food are:

  • By-products (as this can be any part of an animal)
  • Artificial colors/flavors (we shouldn’t eat them either)
  • Corn or wheat (these are used as “fillers” and are not nutritional)
  • Soy/soybean meal (again- fillers that can be compared to eating cereal)

For example, here’s an example of the first ingredients in an un-named, less-than nutritious food because of all of the unhealthy ingredients in it listed above:

Ground yellow corn, chicken by-product meal, corn gluten meal, whole wheat flour, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E), rice flour, beef, soy flour, sugar, propylene glycol, meat and bone meal, tricalcium phosphate, phosphoric acid, salt, water, animal digest, sorbic acid (a preservative), potassium chloride, dried carrots, dried peas, calcium propionate (a preservative), L-Lysine monohydrochloride, choline chloride, added color (Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 2)….

Now, ingredients that you do want in your dog’s food:

  • A meat source as the first or second ingredient
  • (Meat meals are fine; such as chicken meal, etc.; this is ground-up meat)
  • Fruits or vegetables
  • Vitamins and supplements
  • A grain source such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, brown rice, etc.

(For examples of better, high-quality dog foods, research the ingredients in brands such as Petcurean, Natural Balance (what Mr. Sarge eats), EVO, Wellness, etc.)

This post could be twelve pages long, but I tried to keep it as short and informative as possible. Hopefully this will give you the basics, so you can start to look for good-quality ingredients in your dog’s food to keep him or her healthy. They will thank you, and you will have a healthier, happier dog.

Have a great week, and until next time,

~Arie and Sarge

Lesson #1
Exercise, Exercise, Exercise!

As a Professional Dog Trainer, I see a lot of dogs, with a whole variety of problems. There are many different ways to solve the various behavior issues that I come across with these dogs, but there is always one common solution that helps these behavior issues: More exercise.

In general, dogs need at least 45 minutes of rigorous exercise every day; and that means running or playing; not just walking. This suggested exercise amount obviously varies for every dog… some may not need as much (older or calmer dogs), while some (younger or energetic breeds) may need more. However, the best indicator of how much exercise your dog needs is simply your dog herself. If the dog starts exhibiting destructive behavior, for example, it is almost always directly related to lack of adequate exercise.

Here are just a few ideas for exercising your dog:

  • Doggie Day Care
  • Playing fetch (Sarge’s favorite!)
  • Dog parks
  • Long walks or (preferably) jogs
  • Playing hide-and-seek or chase
  • Play-dates with a friend’s dog
  • Join a dog sports club, such as:

Tracking – Dogs follow a scent trail to find people (or treats!)

Agility – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog_agility

Lure coursing – Smaller dogs chase a pretend “rabbit” around a course

Flyball – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flyball

Field trials – (Created for retrievers!) Dogs find and retrieve birds- fake or real

Herding – http://www.e-trainingfordogs.com/HerdingMaster.html

Rally obedience (Not necessarily showing; more fun-style training)

Dock jumping – (Labs love this!) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dock_jumping

Not all areas have all sports, but things such as agility and flyball are fairly common and easy to find. Please contact me for more information on local dog sports, how to get your dog involved, as well as if you have any questions regarding dog behavior or training.

Email me at AriesDogTraining@hotmail.com.

From Arie and Sarge, have a great week, and remember…

“A Tired dog is a Good Dog!!”