Regular toilet breaks
Clean up properly
This is likely to be a big chapter as it covers a lot of things! Our dogs have come from tough lives and may have had to fight for resources to simply stay alive. However, in a home environment, ‘resources’ can be a multitude of things but is essential anything your dog perceives to be valuable. This mostly encompasses food or toys but can also be places (such as sofas or their bed) and quite often people. You may use different tactics for each but the basic behaviour is the same – the dog is trying to stop a person or another dog from taking away the thing they want by growling or biting
Supervise feeding times and play time
Care with ‘high value’ treats
Reactiveness with other dogs
With reactiveness to other dogs quite often dogs have learned a fear response of – if I attack, they go away. Relearning this behaviour which can sometimes be deeply ingrained can be tough and quite stressful!
The best dog trainers will use a “counter- conditioning” method, to try and retrain that meeting other dogs can be non threatening, and quite often a good experience! Some of the best tools for ractive dogs are things such as teaching your dog to focus on you – training a “watch me” cue is great See Victoria Stillwell’s website for this…… https://positively.com/dog-behavior/basic-cues/watch-me/
I also really like the CARE method for reactive dogs- http://careforreactivedogs.com/
Another useful game is called the ‘Engage/Disengage” game (see infographic in games section”
Fear and Nervousness
Understanding body language
Visitors to the home
Avoiding creating S.A
Using ‘brain toys’
Training Tips and Games
“It’s Yer Choice” -Susan Garrett
As an adopter and foster of dogs with many issues, I was introduced to this game some time ago when I started agility classes with my own dog. It’s simple enough but for me it clarified a lot of the learning process for dogs and how you ask them to ‘offer’ a certain behaviour. As a beginner it was a perfect introduction into clicker training and has since provided the foundation for a lot of the training work I do with my dogs. Once I understood the principle of conditioning wanted behaviours, training became so much easier and I’ve since been able to teach my own dog all sorts of tricks and useful tasks. I’d recommend this to anyone as a fun game to play with their dogs and is also particularly helpful for training a ‘leave it’ command for dogs who resource guard.
Engage – disengage game- Alice Tong
Slip lead is top of the list and is an essential requirement. You will not be allowed to collect your dog without one. We recommend that even after collection you continue to use your slip lead as well as a collar/harness. There have been so many incidents of dogs slipping their collars and being hit by cars. Its better to be safe than sorry. Slip leads are relatively cheap, you can pick them up for just a few pounds. Personally I think it is worth paying a bit extra for a sturdy, decent quality one. I particularly like these Ancol slip leads, which still cost less than ten pounds. Be sure to check the lead is suitable for the weight of your dog (especially for bigger dogs). It is also very important to ensure you fit the slip lead correctly. The small leather ‘stay’ moves up and down on the lead, and should be remain on the OUTSIDE of the loop (as in the picture below) but pushed down to allow the loop to sit snuggly against the dogs neck. This stay prevents the loop getting bigger so the dog can’t pull it off.
This one is a top tip! I can’t recommend clicker training your dog enough. It takes some getting used to and the trick is clicking at the right time. But once you understand the basics of how to ‘shape behaviours’ with your dogs, you have a really fantastic grounding for improving behavioural issues to teaching your dogs tricks! There are lots of books out there on this subject so I wold advise anyone to buy a cheap clicker (I like the Clix clickers and they are only about £4) and get practising. Both you and your dog will massively benefit.
We firmly recommend every dog owner should muzzle train their dog. There is far too much stigma around muzzles, when actually they are extraordinarily useful. If you can get your dog to be comfortable and happy wearing a muzzle you have set the groundwork to be able to deal with most situations. Even the sweetest, most gentle dog may bite if they are in pain and have to be examined by a vet so being able to muzzle them in this situation can avoid potential harm.
Baskerville muzzles are recommended as they allow the dog to be able to pant and drink whilst wearing. Soft muzzles prevent biting by not allowing the dog to open their mouth and as a consequence a dog can overheat so should not be used for long periods.
Dogs must be trained to use muzzles, and be taught that wearing one is a good experience, otherwise you may create more issues. try this site for information on Muzzle training – https://www.clickertraining.com/muzzles
Crate training can be valuable, particularly for dogs that may be destructive. It can also be helpful for a nervous dog to have a ‘safe space’ to retreat to. Again, crate training must be used as a positive – NEVER as punishment! The goal is to have a dog that WANTS to go in their crate and feels safe and content there. See this site for crate training tips: https://www.doglistener.co.uk/crate_training_puppies
Long lines are recommended for all our dogs in the early stages of coming home. Until you are completely confident your dog has good recall, even in exciting or scary situations you should not let your dog off leash. Most accidents happen when a dog is let of leash too early and they bolt. This has ended in fatalities. Long lines allow the dog to stretch their legs and explore a bit more, whilst remaining tethered and secure. I prefer lunge lines used for horses, they are thicker, better quality and allow for good control if needed. My favourite are Shires Wessex lunge lines
Martingale collars or Half check/ half choke collars can be handy for flight risk dogs. If fitted correctly and snugly, they tighten should the dog pull making them harder to back out of than a standard collar. I would also recommend a harness and/or a slip lead for nervous dogs but for some dogs it really pays to have extra security. I really like Red Dingo martingale collars and some of my own dogs wear these.
Harnesses allow for extra security for dogs at risk of slipping their collar. They also add extra control over the dogs body and can help with strong dogs, dogs that pull or reactive dogs. It is very important you buy the right sort of harness and that it fits snuggly. Some harnesses hinder shoulder movement and can cause injury. If ill fitted or not the right type they can also be very easy to back out off and risk bolting. I have tried many harnesses over the years, but I always recommend harnesses that have a chest plate and look like a figure of 8. I particularly like these harnesses and they are padded and don’t rub, whilst allowing for good movement. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Trixie-Premium-Touring-Dog-Harness
I call this section front leaders but it covers a number of devices. Some dog owners have found front leaders extremely useful for strong dogs who pull on the lead. The general principle is that by having control of the front of the dog, any attempt to pull will either turn the dog around, or bring their muzzle toward the ground. This can be extremely scary or frustrating for the dog so needs to be introduced slowly and carefully for the dog to learn to relax.
Some examples of front leaders are :
Head collars such as Halti or Gentle leader
Front leading harnesses (also made by halti)
Treats can be the key to your dogs heart! It is useful to have a range of ‘high value’ and ‘low value’ treats. High value treats are things like cheese, hot dog, or small pieces of chicken. Low value are usually things like pieces of dry kibble. My dogs will do tricks for kibble, but if I take them out of the house where everything is much more exciting it takes a bit more persuasion so I bring out the high value treats!
Take time to find out what your dog goes mad for. Some dogs love cocktail sausages or dried sprats. Liver cake is also a favourite in my house. Some dogs aren’t food driven at all but will do anything for a tennis ball or squeaky toy. It’s ok to use these as rewards in place of treats.
Remember a hungry dog is much more likely to look for treats, so try to practice training before meals. You should also reduce their meals if they are having a lot of treats throughout the day so as not to over feed them. Cut treats in to small pieces. It’s quite easy to use a lot of treats when you are training your dog. For dogs on a diet you can also get low calorie training treats and using bits of fruit or veg is ok too (my dogs enjoy a bit of carrot or apple!)