Doggie daycare is a common luxury for many dogs. Pet owners who feel guilty that their dogs spend all day at home send their pets to what appears to be doggie heaven. At many day cares, dogs are off-leash and allowed to play non-stop with all of their canine friends. What could go wrong?
Unfortunately, there are many problems with this setup that well-meaning dog owners should be made aware of. In this three part series the problems with doggy care care will be discussed.
Training Regression Many pet owners are surprised to find that their well-trained dogs begin to regress in their training after visits to doggy day care. In a perfect world, obedience commands would be reinforced; however, day cares are often a free-for-all, where the supervisor’s job is simply to ensure no dogs are seriously injured. This means that your dog is often able to get away with behaviors that would not be tolerated at home. In fact, many of those negative behaviors are even reinforced at day care. Since a large portion of dog training relies on consistency, doggie day cares directly contribute to training issues at home.
Potty Training Regression Additionally, many pet owners find that their dogs develop potty training regression as a result of doggie day care. If your dog is accustomed to urinating on grass, it can be confusing to urinate on new surfaces, such as concrete, artificial turf, or carpeting. Watching other dogs potty indoors can lead your pet to mimic the behavior, as well.
Lack of Structure If you have ever found the dog park overwhelming or anxiety-inducing due to the lack of structured play and instead a large pack of animals chasing one another, doggie day care is not for your pet. Safe canine play requires structure and a trained eye for recognizing canine body language. The free-for-all that is represented at most day care facilities not only creates bad habits in your pet, but results in an unsafe atmosphere.
Limited Criteria for Enrollment Many doggie day cares have no selection process, which can be a recipe for disaster. Dogs with strong prey drives, resource aggression, or anxiety are given the opportunity to play in close quarters with dogs of similar personality. When volume (and profits) are more valued than the creation of a safe and enriching atmosphere, dangerous situations such as dog fights can arise.
Poor Alternative to Socialization Doggie day cares are typically advertised as the perfect solution to your socialization needs. However, proper socialization requires both positive and negative reinforcement for good and bad behaviors. At doggy day care, your pet is simply exposed to a variety of animals and situations with no correction for unwanted behaviors. Instead of day care, structured training, dog walking, and boarding are the safer alternative to this all too common practice.
Retriever Training – Tips on Memory Marking and Marking the fall
A great drill that you can perform with multiple dogs and hunting buddies is memory marking, which will be described here.
This fun and easy drill can be performed with one or more dogs, as well as one or more friends. To begin, throw bumpers into the water while your dog watches. Tell your dog to heel and do not send him or her to retrieve the bumpers.
Next, take your dog(s) toward your hunting buddies, who should be tossing bumpers and shooting. When a mark is thrown, pull your dog off the mark. Instead, direct your dog away from that mark and towards the memory bumper, which is the bumper that was previously thrown into the water. After one dog retrieves a memory bird, continue the drill by now steadying the first dog and making him or her sit quietly while your buddies shoo. When you are ready, send the second dog after the memory in the water. The more people and dogs that are involved, the better.
This drill improves your dog’s ability to go after blinds while also creating a steady animal that honors your commands.
You can easily turn your trained retriever into a shed dog by incorporating a few simple drills into your dog’s training. Here, shed dog training drills recommended by renowned retriever / shed dog trainer Tom Dokken are discussed.
Antler Introduction In this first drill, the goal is simply to make your dog excited about picking up sheds. Take the smallest shed you can find, remove any sharp tines, and toss it in your house or yard. Encourage your dog to pick up the antler, and treat your pet as if he or she is the smartest dog in the world when picking up the bone. The more excited you can make your dog, the better.
In shed hunting, you want your retriever to work independently from you when seeking out sheds. Your dog should use both nose and eyes while shed hunting. To develop your dog’s sight skills, create a large silhouette of a shed (such as a cardboard cutout in the rudimentary shape of antlers) and place it in the ground like a flag, with a shed antler next to it. Your dog will want to investigate the silhouette. When he or she runs over to the cut out, give a command such as “find the bone.” Your dog will associate the sight of the antlers with the reward of the retrieve, which will help develop the animal’s skills.
Scent Training The next drill you can perform with your retriever relies on your dog’s nose. By nature, sheds do not have a lot of scent, but your dog’s highly sensitive nose will still be able to detect the subtle odor. You can apply scent, such as Rack Wax, to the base and tines of an antler to aid your dog in learning this distinct scent. Start with the same drill as above, where the scented antlers are placed near the silhouettes. Next, remove the silhouettes, but place the scented sheds in the same area as where the silhouettes once stood. Finally, when your dog is getting the hang of this drill hide the sheds in harder to find areas, such as tall grass, to force your pet to use its nose.
Hunt Simulation The final drills you should run before your dog is ready for a real shed hunt should simulate the scenarios your dog will encounter in the field. These can be incorporated into your dog’s training once he or she is reliably using sight and smell to find the hidden sheds. To begin, place heavily-scented antlers in difficult-to-find areas. Next, reduce the amount of wax you apply to the sheds, while also removing as much human odor as possible with deodorizing cleansers, and handling them with rubber gloves. Finally, increase the size of the sheds that you use in training so that your dog has practice handling large pieces of bone.
During these drills, never hesitate to return to and repeat an earlier drill if more reinforcement is necessary. Above all, keep training sessions short and fun, and always set up your dog for success.
Gun Dog Success can be one of the most rewarding experiences, but at times also one of the most frustrating. Tips for training your hunting retriever are discussed here.
Steady First, Retrieve Later Many hunters make the mistake of moving past basic obedience in favor of countless retrieves without restraint. Only after the dog has been encouraged to chase after a dummy with enthusiasm do hunters attempt – with great frustration – to steady the animal. Instead, your dog should first be proficient at “stay” with non-retrieves. In this way, your dog will not expect to retrieve everything that falls. When emphasis is placed first on steadying, the dog also learns to offer calm behaviors, instead of hyperactive enthusiasm for retrieving game. In training, make your dog sit and watch dummies for 10 – 30 minutes before you send him or her to retrieve them. Additional benefits of this practice include improved knowledge of hand signals, better blind retrieves, and less hard-headed independence.
Recall Gun Dog Success startsbefore your dog ever steps foot in the field, he or she should be proficient at coming on command. Again, this problem is directly caused by placing more emphasis on retrieves than on obedience. A dog that is well-trained for recall will obey the command no matter the distraction – including falling game.
Personality Once you have purchased a dog, you cannot change its personality. However, a common problem among hunters who train their own dogs is that today’s retrievers have more personality than their ancestors from 50 years ago. Instead of calm and gentle personalities, today’s breeders seek to produce dogs that are well-suited to field trials, meaning most retrievers are hyperactive and stubborn. If your dog is too much to handle for your level of expertise, do not hesitate to seek the help of a professional dog trainer. The money will be well worth the decreased frustration.
Electronic Collars Electronic training collars are powerful tools that, when used properly, are unparalleled for putting the finishing touches on a hunting dog. However, when used improperly they can produce just as many problems as they solve. Unfortunately, many dog owners who are untrained in their proper use turn to electronic collars and create anxious, fearful dogs. The electronic collar should never be used as a first resort, and dog owners should beware that if you cannot train your dog without the collar, the chances of successfully training him or her with electronic stimulation are slim. Before turning to an e-collar to solve a problem with basic obedience, turn to a professional dog trainer first.
Good Bloodlines There are two ways to produce a good hunting dog: through extensive training, and through breeding. Ultimately, a dog with good bloodlines that is properly bred will be easier to train than an animal with inferior qualities. For instance, a quality-bred Labrador Retriever should naturally have a soft mouth that does not require force-fetch training. The tendency of breeders to produce dogs with a genetic predisposition to a hard mouth increases the amount of training required, while also perpetuating this trait.
Two other traits that are continually masked by training instead of circumvented by selective breeding are hyperactivity and cooperation (or lack thereof). While the hyperactive dog can be extensively trained to be under control, his or her puppies will have this trait. The same can be said for dogs that are hard-headed. Instead, retrievers with sensitive natures struggle with electronic collar training, and they are considered poor candidates for further training, thus removing this beneficial trait from the gene pool.
Instead, hunters spend additional time training their dogs, when they could already be in the field. While this point may not be beneficial for owners who have already purchased a hyperactive, stubborn dog with a hard mouth, one of the best tips for achieving Gun Dog Success is to seek a quality hunting lag pedigree and bloodlines with characteristics that predispose the dog to being receptive to training.
“If your dog is injured, he is probably in pain. It is important to not give him aspirin. Aspirin will actually decrease the ability for blood clots to form for approximately five to seven days. This is not going to help at all. Additionally, ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen can be toxic for dogs. There are few effective and safe over-the-counter pain meds that work in dogs, so the best option is to move quickly to get your pet some veterinary help.” – Dr. Lauren Pugliese, guest author, Veterinary medicine
I recommend always carrying a Dog First Aide Kit with you on any trip and be prepared for an emergency, just in case.
Hopefully you will never be involved in a dog emergency response situation and never need the information discussed here in this brief post, but it is always better to be prepared than to be caught is a situation that you need something and do not have…