Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Gentle leader update

In one of my previous posts (tools), I mentioned that I had bought a gentle leader and had yet to try it out. Now that I've tried it out I now have an opinion on it.
In the beginning I had to get my dog used to wearing it, which took about a week or so. Even after having him wear it multiple times a day during meal times, he still did not enjoy wearing it. He tolerated it on walks, but would stop frequently and freak, trying to get it off of his face. Lots of treats and praise were needed to make the collar work.
I personally would not recommend the gentle leader unless you have a lot of patience and time to spend training your dog. I will continue using it and see if it gets any easier with time.

Another thing I wanted to bring up in this post was my experience with a new tool I have just started using.
It is a bike attachment that that can be found on
This thing  has been a life saver for me. It is flexible, and is positioned low on the bike for optimal balance. The same dog who I use the gentle leader on would constantly pull me on my bike, causing me to crash on a few occasions. I used this and it worked like magic. No more pulling (except up hills). I also tried it on my dog who is scared of running close to bikes, and after a few minutes he was biking like a pro. I would highly recommend this product.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

House Training
Getting a new puppy can be fun yet stress-full, but training your puppy from an early start can save you a lot of stress and trouble for the future. House training and crate training should be the first things that you teach your dog. they are easy in concept, but can often times test your patience. 

Crate Training

Crate training is getting your puppy/dog used to being locked in a crate alone, or during the night. Crate training is optional, but let me tell you now that a crate trained dog is a much easier dog to handle and train.
Here are some tips on crate training:

  • Introduce the crate in a positive way. Use treats and praise and don't close the door for the first couple of times, the crate should be a happy and relaxing place for your dog. 

  • Once your dog is familiar with the crate, you can start closing the door, throwing him treats and praising all the while. Don't leave the room, or keep your dog in it's crate for too long, just get him used to having the door closed. 

  • Next you are ready to start leaving the room for short periods of time. Keep the duration of alone time short, and make sure you give your dog breaks in between training lessons.

  • DO NOT enter the crate room, let your dog out of the crate, or give your dog any sort of attention if he/she whines. Ignore your dog totally if he whines, or go back a step or two in the training process. If you let your dog out when he whines, you are rewarding him for whining. Ignore him and he will eventually stop (If he is not whining because he has to potty or is in pain). This takes patience, you can do it! 

Don't lock your dog up in a crate for more than eight hours during the day. It is meant as a tool for potty training, as well as a quiet place for your dog to settle down in, not to imprison him.

Potty Training 

Timing is key with potty training. You must take a new puppy potty at least once every hour during the day, and multiple times throughout the night. Set an alarm if you must to prevent accidents. If your dog does have an accident, you have to catch him in the act and take him outside. Don't punish your dog after the deed is done, just increase his potty breaks. It is important that you praise your dog the moment he starts going potty where he is supposed to go.
Remember, patience, persistence and timing.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Following my post on training techniques, I am going to talk about the pros and cons of multiple tools used in training. First let me explain what a training tool is and what its purpose is. Training tools are usually in the form of different types of collars, harnesses, and other conveniences like bait pouches and clickers. They are used to help aid and quicken the training process in dogs, and usually revolve around positive reinforcement, though not always. I will only name the most common tools, and tools that I have tried in the past.
Prong collar       
Despite what lots of trainers believe and say, I think that this collar can be very useful and effective if used properly, but that is only my opinion. The problem is, lots of people use this tool incorrectly and often times end up with a dog with problems due to this collar. I personally used to not know how to use this collar, and my lab started developing aggression problems towards other dogs. I have since stopped using a prong on him, and have had to work on his issues. With that said, a prong is not for every dog or owner. Some overly sensitive dogs can react poorly to the corrections. But with the right dog and the right techniques, this can be a harmless and effective way to teach your dog to heal, use as a correction for unwanted behavior, and much more.  
Gentle leader 
The idea of this collar is to act like a head halter on a horse to stop a dog from pulling. If the dog rushes ahead of you their head is pulled sideways so it is facing you, and where the head goes the body follows. I have just bought one of these for one of my dogs, but we are still getting used to it so I haven't had the chance to try it out yet. The idea seems like a good one, but I don't know if it will actually work or not.

Shock collar
Self explanatory... if the dog does something they are not supposed to do, they get the zap. I don't think this method is the best in most situations, and the only situation I can think of that it would be necessary is if the dog runs away when off leash. I have a German Short-haired Pointer who runs away the moment you unhook his leash from his collar. I have trained him extensively on recall with the highest quality of steaks, but only 50% of the time will he come. This is where the shock would come in handy. The moment he runs away and doesn't come when called, he gets a slight buzz. I haven't used this technique on him yet, but it is always an option to try it out.

A dog backpack can be very useful in many situations, whether it's for training, giving your dog a job, or having an extra hand at carrying something, they are something worth getting. They help to slow a dog down when on walks, and can reduce pulling a bit. They also can give high strung dogs a job, helping them feel more fulfilled. Of course they have a practical use too, if you backpack or hike a lot, you can lighten your load and give Fido a bit of weight to carry. Be watchful of chafing though, especially with short-haired breeds.

Bait pouches and clickers    
As the name implies, bait pouches are like small fanny packs that hold treats in easy accessibility during training. If you train your dog with treats, you need one (if you don't already have one). I mentioned the clicker in my last post, and shared a link that explained what it was and what it did. Basically it marks the exact moment your dog does something right, and tells your dog that a reward is along the way. It is a great tool for teaching dogs new things, and I highly recommend it.