Orlando Dog Trainer: The Positive Interrupter – A Tool More Powerful Than No

Nobody Likes To Hear No

Many people get frustrated when they can’t seem to communicate with their dogs. Often times they will fall into a cycle of saying, “No” “No” “No” when their dog is doing something they don’t like. Unfortunately, dogs don’t speak English.

Dogs can certainly tell by the tone of your voice that you are displeased. In all likelihood, telling or yelling “No!” over and over will increase stress in your pup. Most likely, Sparky may even tune you out.

This Orlando Dog Trainer Believes In Positivity

Orlando Dog TrainerLet’s do a little Classical Conditioning with your pooch. (Remember Pavlov’s dog?)

For the next few days make a kissing noise and give your dog a really delicious treat-for NO reason.

His behavior is irrelevant. He doesn’t have to look at you. He doesn’t have to sit. He doesn’t have to stop what he is doing.

Just walk up to your dog, make a kissing noise and give him a piece of grilled chicken or chicken hot dog. Make sure it’s something extraordinary, not his normal treat. Do this a dozen times a day for several days.

Happy Results

What you will notice very quickly is that when you make that kissing noise, your dog will swing his head around in anticipation of the really delicious treat. Now you’ve got a “Positive Interrupter” that you can use to get your dog’s attention away from unwanted activities and you can redirect him to something YOU want him to do.

Instead of inducing stress with “No!” You are interrupting him with the positive feelings of your Classically Conditioned kissing noise.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, feel free to call me any time at 321-345-7387 ext 2.

Classical Conditioning: A Foundation Of Dog Training

2014-10-13_1413210572My dog, Chase is a “rescue” dog in the most literal sense of the word, rescue. We learned about Chase when we were just launching Big Paw Pet Care. All we ‘knew’ about him was from a frantic email exchange from a friend; an older German Shepherd Dog with a broken leg, and he had 15-minutes to live.

What we got was a one-year-old possible Australian Cattle Dog mix that had been living on the street with a dislocated toe and a huge fear of diesel trucks.

The Adoption

The exchange went down like a hostage swap in a Hardee’s parking lot halfway between Orlando and Sebring, FL. Chase was 35 pounds of skin and bones and looked like a malnourished coyote even after 10 days of dog-pound food . We found on the ride home, Chase’s fear of all things truck. When we would approach a semi truck driving down the highway, this soon-to-be 53-pound dog would try desperately to crawl under the back of the passenger seat of our Saturn Vue.

After letting Chase acclimate to his new ‘foster’-home, our first plan of attack to work on his fear of trucks was to try and create positive associations. We had to desensitize the poor little street urchin through Classical Conditioning.

What is Classical Conditioning?

Classical ConditioningClassical Conditioning is defined as: In Psychology, a learning process that occurs when two stimuli are repeatedly paired; a response that is at first elicited by the second stimulus is eventually elicited by the first stimulus alone.

Think Pavlov’s dog. Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist. A short version of what Pavlov did: Pavlov would ring a bell immediately before giving his dog food. He found after repeatedly pairing these two stimuli that when he would ring the bell, his dog would salivate even without the presentation of food.

Putting Theory To Work

With this in mind, Chase and I loaded up in the car with a stash of chicken hotdog bits and went out hunting down diesel trucks and semis. Every time we neared a truck, I would quickly start flipping little pieces of hotdogs into the back seat. It helped that Chase was extremely food motivated. Chase would squirm and get as far away and a low as possible when we got too close. But, it didn’t matter. As long as we were in the presence of trucks, hotdogs would fall from the sky.

Unexpected Result

A few short weeks later, as I was stopped at a stoplight and distracted with my own thoughts, I noticed Chase standing with his front paws on the center console. As I turned to him, I noticed a semi-truck directly next to us. In my blissfully unaware state, I had failed to see the truck pull up beside us.

But Chase didn’t. Chase knew that the truck meant something. In his mind, he was saying, “Hey, where are my hotdogs? Hotdogs should be falling from the sky!”

We successfully modified the association Chase had with trucks from one of fear to one of pleasure. Trucks no longer meant terror. Trucks meant something delicious.

Walk With Your Dog: Help Yourself

walking with your dogWhen I was in the Air Force, we had to wear boots for work. I had never worn boots before. I left the Air Force after my first hitch. One thing I noticed immediately was my ankles had become very weak. My boots had been supporting my ankles for years and therefore my muscles hadn’t had to support my natural body movement. [Read more…]

Healthy Pet Food: Get Your Pet To Eat Better

In the early days of our country, dogs and cats main source of nutrition was table from scraps (or the occasional rat or mouse caught outside). In the years after World War I, there was a need to dispose of a large number old horses from the military stables. With that, canned pet food was born!

Yea, you read that right. YUCK.

Pet FoodRemarkably, canned dog food was an instant success and soon, dry food made of meat meal was introduced as an affordable alternative. By the end of World War II, dog food sales had skyrocketed to over $200 million a year. That’s 1940s money, folks!

Today, mass produced, brand name pet foods have a stronghold on the pet food market. To lower costs and maximize profits, big brands add all sorts of things to their pet food. Still, they are considered “complete” as set by the very low standards of the pet food industry.

Some researchers have found links to these poor food sources most people use and increases in pet mortality. Many vets and pet nutritionists agree that the astronomical increase in cancer related pet deaths can be related to the ingredients in most pet food. With little oversight and regulation, it’s up to you and me to ensure the food we provide our pets is the best we can provide them. But where do you start?

Make a Change

Look for the following terms on your pet food label and avoid those foods:

  • Meat and poultry bi-products: FYI: that’s not meat. That’s anything, and we mean ANYTHING else that may have come from that animal carcass
  • Meat and bone meal: Sounds like something that your pet needs. In fact, the basis of meat and bone meal is render down scraps, removing most of the water and leaving mostly protein. The reality is, using the word MEAT is too vague. This simple term allows manufacturers to use any one of the four D’s as a source of meat: Dead, Dying, Deformed and Diseased animals. They come in the forms of beef, poultry, slaughter animals determined too ill for human consumption, road kill (that’s no joke, folks), expired grocery store meats and euthanized shelter animals (again, not a joke).
  • Animal Fat: Filler…tasty and fattening. This can also include used restaurant fryer fat.
  • BHA/BHT: Food preservatives, known carcinogens banned in human food but not in pet food
  • Propyl gallate: Another food preservative that imitates estrogen causing issues and cancers in both male and female animals
  • Ethoxyquin: A preservative and pesticide, known to cause cancer in humans and animals
  • Corn, soy and wheat in all forms: In the wild, wolves diet would be 95-98% protein with the remaining portion made up by partially digested vegetation in the stomach contents of their prey in the form of fruit, vegetable or grasses. Modified filler crops like corn, soy and wheat were never part of any animals diet, including dogs.

Confused about Pet Food? Don’t be!

There are many options out there from commercial grade raw diets to high quality kibble. The most important thing is to feed your them the best pet food you can afford. Seek out specialty stores dedicated to providing consumers and pets with the best in high quality, pet foods. Most labels have very few, easy to read ingredients. Stop by or visit their websites for expert advice on your pet’s food needs and find a good product at an affordable price.

Orlando Dog Trainer: Life Rewards and Food Treats

You’ve finally gotten to the point when your dog is regularly responding to your vocal or hand cues for behaviors.

It’s now time to pull back with the treats and replace them with other rewards. For my dog, the sound of the leash is an exciting time. Rewarding him with a walk for a job well done is always welcome. For other dogs some fetch with a squeaky ball or frisbee is like heaven!

The point is you’ve now moved on to “life rewards”, rewards based on other things your dog enjoys beyond treats and food. You’re showing your dog you indeed are NOT a treat PEZ dispenser. Instead he is learning that by doing as you ask, and making you happy, he gets something that makes him happy too.

Sure we can still pepper in treat based rewards as a surprise every now and then but you want to make sure you diversify your rewards. Dogs love surprises like this and you’ll be motivating them to work even harder to keep the rewards coming.

Have a question for me about your dog’s behavior? Call 321-345-7387 for a free phone consultation.

Orlando Dog Trainer: Bribing Versus Rewarding Dogs in Training

How do I define reward based training versus a bribe?

Ask a dog to do something. The dog does it. Give him a treat. That treat is a reward.

Ask your dog to do something and it’s something he’s done repeatedly before. But this time there’s no action. So you wait. Maybe you ask again. You reach into your treat bag and suddenly your dog is completing the requested task.

THAT is a bribe.

You asked him to do it and he didn’t until he knew the reward. A good dog trainer will help you avoid this pitfall of dog training. If you find yourself only getting a reaction once the treat is visible, your dog has just trained you!

With professional dog training we use techniques that avoid bribery and continue rewarding good behaviors. Knowing when you’re teetering into bribery is a skill that your dog trainer can see, but you may not.

I’ve got a couple more days of insight for you so keep checking back. Don’t hesitate to call me if you have any questions about your dog’s behavior. Dial 321-345-7387 for a FREE telephone assessment.

Orlando Dog Trainer: Using Food As Rewards In Training

Food is a huge motivator for me. I can down a juicy hamburger in minutes. I love grilled salmon and vegetables  My mouth waters just thinking about it. However, burgers, salmon and the like just don’t show up in my refrigerator. I have to work for them.

Like humans, food for dogs is a pretty valuable part of life. Dogs know that food is good as soon as their born. Ever have a puppy climbing all over you while you’re at the dinner table? They may never have tasted a pork chop, but they know they want it!

Most every dog enjoys praise, petting and game play – which are all great rewards. But food is primal. If you want to get an animal’s attention you want to go for what it’s mind, body and soul are craving.

That is food.

Dog owners and trainers alike express concern about using food as a reward in training. Using food exclusively can turn into a bribe where the dog only reacts to the food and not to your command without it. But that’s why using a professional dog trainer is important. To know when your dog knows whats expected and how to transition their expectations of reward away from food and towards other things.

Keep checking back while I post more insights into the dog training process in the coming days. In the meantime, if you have any questions about your dog’s behavior feel free to call me at 321-345-7387 for a FREE telephone assessment.

Orlando Dog Trainer: Why We Reward Dogs In Training

Big Paw Pet Care uses a “PAWsitive” or rewards based training method when training our client’s dogs. At first you feel like a PEZ dispenser handing out treat after treat. What we really want to get to is making eye contact, praise and petting just as rewarding as treats.

But first you have to get the dogs attention.

We call dogs “man’s best friend” and “loyal” but the reality is dogs are fairly self-serving. Ask your dog to perform any task and he’s immediately asking “Whats in this for me?”. You could say dogs are natures capitalists when it comes to their relationships with humans.

So we hand out treat after treat for the simple tasks as we start. By being systematic with rewards, the dog is more likely to repeat the behavior we want. When you reward a job well done, the dog will continue to “show up for work”.

A first step is deciding what is rewarding to your dog. Some dogs love cheese, others hate it. For some dogs rough petting means “good boy” where others may not like touch at all. So we find what works for your dog and start our training there.

Over the next few days I’ll post a few more insights into the dog training process. In the meantime, if you have any questions about your dog’s behavior feel free to call me at 321-345-7387 for a FREE telephone assessment.

Why I’m A Dog Trainer (from Orlando’s Total Pet Care)

I love my dogs

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 I’ve always wanted a career that let me spend more time with my dogs. They are almost literally my children. But it’s important to note I don’t treat them like children. I train them and I train them a lot. Everyday.

For most people, dog training seems to be a luxury. But the reality is most people also treat their dogs like humans. This can lead to numerous issues including general disobedience  dominance and other unwanted behaviors. This makes dog training more of a necessity than a luxury. Wouldn’t you agree?

We don’t train failure

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My goal as a dog trainer is to find a tactic you are comfortable with and will then pass on to your family. By keeping everyone consistent you will see your dog always knows what you want of him as long as you ask him for it. We use a wide breadth of training techniques and philosophies until you find you are getting the reaction you want from your dog.

[box type=”info” size=”large” style=”rounded”]TIP: Reacting loudly to a bad behavior can be communicated as “GOOD” to your dog if you also react loudly to the dog doing a good thing. [/box]

Know that anything I teach you and your dog will always be positive. We reward the good behavior, we ignore and reset when confronted with a bad behavior.

I’m a dog trainer because I want to help you with the knowledge I’ve gained over many years of dog ownership and training. I want you to enjoy your time with your dog and not make excuses for embarrassing or bad behavior.

Classes Coming Soon: Dog Training In Orlando

Dog Training Classes – Keep it simple

Dog Training ClassesMy challenge as dog trainer is to apply a “one-size-does-not-fit-all” dog training philosophy into a class-style setting. The two concepts may seem mutually exclusive, but by breaking down each training goal to a single step we can train success – even for the most ornery of dogs.

To do so we always start every dog from step one: the basic sit.

Even if your dog has been through training with another trainer or class, we’re going to go back to foundations. Even if your dog knows “sit”, “stay”, “lay down”…we’re going to then focus on how you communicate these commands to your dog.

Ultimately, if your dog is already trained and you are seeking more training – something is not being communicated correctly. So we’ll start from scratch.

The benefit of a class style training is that we can each learn from each other. We can talk about the error and make sure that other students do not make the same mistake. Another plus, the classes themselves are can be an affordable alternative to private training as long as you can attend every class. So the “luxury” of dog training is now affordable.

Please watch our website and Facebook page for the next “Foundations” or basic obedience class coming soon.

If you have any questions about your dog’s behavior or our training methods, email me at john@bigpawpets.com.