Monday, August 29, 2005

Dog Training - How to Train Your Dog Effectively

by Brigitte Smith

Some people believe that dogs need to be trained when they're young. To some extent for our own sanity that's true - especially with housetraining, and teaching your dog that chewing your shoes/slippers/anything that's accessible, is simple not acceptable.

But despite the old adage "You can't teach a old dog new tricks", it's perfectly possible to teach a dog of virtually any age new behaviours and even party tricks, if you like. Basically dog training boils down to rewarding your dog when s/he does something you like, and correcting your dog when s/he does something you don't like. Good training establishes an appropriate relationship between you and your dog, and it ensures that your dog understands what you want of him/her.
Of course, the dog may become somewhat set in his/her ways, and be less inclined to be interested in learning. My dogs tend to look at me a little suspiciously these days if I try to introduce a new command. But once they get the idea that I'm giving them a new way to please me, it doesn't take them too long to start to comply.

The idea is to teach your dog to make his own decisions (believe it or not!) Not complicated decisions, of course, - just whether to do something or not. If your dog makes the right decision, s/he'll be rewarded. If your dog makes the wrong decision, s/he'll receive a corrrection and the opportunity to then choose the right decision. Simple!

I've been reading "Secrets of a Professional Dog Trainer" by Adam Katz: It reminded me of an absolutely crucial point when training a dog - that consistency is critical with your dog. Because your dog is always looking for opportunities to elevate him/herself in the heirachy of your household, even just a little bit ... if you don't insist on a certain behaviour every single time, or conversely if you allow a misbehaviour even once, your dog gets a mixed message about what's acceptable and what s/he can get away with.

As an example, if you've taught your dog to come when called, the only way you can be certain s/he will come every single time you give the command, is if you don't give your dog a choice until you're 100 percent certain your dog will respond to your command every single time. That is, you must carry this training out with a long leash or rope, so you can make your dog come each time you call him/her.

Adam's ebook is over 300 pages long and explains all of this in much greater detail and not only tells you exactly how to train your dog to respond to specific commands, but also the most effective ways to prevent unwanted behaviours, and to have a much better behaved dog in general.

What I really like about Adam's strategies is that his methods utilise the dog's natural instincts and drives, and because you treat the dog as if s/he is a member of your pack, rather than a child of your household, you actually end up with a happier dog. Some of the methods described in the ebook are somewhat controversial, but I'd really recommend that you read the arguments he puts forward and make your own decision. I LOVE the ebook. Granted, it's not a literary masterpiece - actually it doesn't flow as well as it might, and it's somewhat repetitive - but the information contained in it is priceless.

(You can find it at

(c) 2004, Brigitte Smith, Healthy Happy Dogs

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Does Your Dog Have A Healthy Skin And Coat?

by Brigitte Smith

Does your dog always having a lush, soft coat? Does your dog's skin remain rash and itch free? If you said yes to either or both of the above questions, yours is a very fortunate dog. More likely, like me, you said "No", or, perhaps "Sometimes". Most of our dogs suffer from a dull coat and/or a skin irritation of some type from time to time. Some poor dogs seem to be plagued by skin problems, which often causes them to molt, or even to pull their own fur out in an attempt to relieve the itchiness.

This can be caused by a number of things, including a vitamin deficiency. Even if you think you're feeding your dog an ideal diet, it may not be so. For years my vet complimented me on the great health of my dogs due to the largely raw diet I fed them, but little did I realise that down the track they would begin to develop degenerative conditions which I can now only attribute to a failure to supplement with vitamins and/or balanced holistic food. Yes, diet can impact on your dog's skin condition and the look and feel of your dog's coat in a big way. And fleas also, of course, can cause major skin irritation for your dog.

But for now, back to the external, and non-parasitic, causes of an irritated, dry or itchy skin. Kara, my Rottweiler, has pretty sensitive skin - she gets a rash from coming into contact with the pollen from certain plants. My Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Jet, is more hardy in the coat and skin department. Jet's pretty lucky. She doesn't get incessant itches very often at all, although she has been known to molt once or twice in her 9 years.

To keep your dog's skin and coat in tip top condition and health, a good dog shampoo is really important. When my dogs were younger I sometimes used cheap shampoos from discount stores. I came to the conclusion that this was really false economy. They cleaned the coat reasonably well, but weren't particularly beneficial to the skin. Now I use an all-natural, enriched shampoo which helps relieve itching and dry, flaky skin. And the coat comes out really silky and it really seems to have a lovely shine. And it has a tearless formula, so it's kind to your dog's eyes! If you'd like to check it out, you'll find the details by clicking here:

If your dog is anything like my Rottweiler, Kara, your dog's fur is often dusty and not so great to stroke. Kara loves rolling in the dirt outside. When the dirt in the backyard is dry, I can brush out the dust and dirt without too much trouble. But when it's damp Kara needs to be washed to really get her coat clean again. And when it's been pouring rain for a day or two, I actually try to keep her inside the house as much as possible. Because, yes, she rolls in the wet, sticky mud, when she gets a chance. You should see the mess she gets in. She can be covered in mud from head to toe. And she's most put out when I won't let her in the house in that state! That's when the shampoo really comes in handy! That link again is:

(c) 2004, Brigitte Smith, Healthy Happy Dogs

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