Halloween and Guy Fawkes is upon us again!

With Halloween coming up it is the time to look after our pets.  Halloween is a fun time for the people but not necessarily our pets.

Humans all love the strange costumes and scary feeling when they see something unusual.  Unfortunately our pets don’t feel the same way.  All pets, not just the scared ones.

  • Bring your Dog inside
    Even if this isn’t normal for your dog to come into the house, this is an unusual time of the year and our pets need our understanding.  Not all dogs are able to cope with the hype and noise of either the children’s screams and squeals of Halloween or the screams, bangs and burning lights of Guy Fawkes.Make a dog bed in the laundry or another room and train your dog to sleep in this area prior to Halloween or Guy Fawkes.
  • Scared dogs: If your dog is scared of the people in strange costumes, the increased number of people knocking on your door or visiting or the loud noises and bangs that fireworks produce, keep them in a safe environment where they cannot escape. If people come into your property, dressed in their ‘scary’ costumes, it could upset your dog and their behaviour could be different to normal by growling, lunging or wildly trying to escape. Check that when people come to the door that your pet cannot escape from the ‘safe’ environment, or be scared by the increased number of scary people at the door.

    Take precautions of your scared dog but using a Thundershirt or making a small cave for them to feel safe in. One of mine use to hide under the duvet during thunderstorms and fireworks, so let then choose where they are most comfortable.  If you need to medicate, remember that some medications take a couple of days to work so should start taking those well before the fireworks start going off.

  • Dressing up of dogs:
    Not all dogs like to be dressed up.  If they don’t like it, don’t do it.  If they love it, make the most awesome costume that people have seen.  Keep hold of your dog on either a flat collar or harness and a leash long enough to keep everyone, including your pet, safe.Do not take your dog with you door knocking if it is not well socialised and is fearful or timid of people.

Take care over this period and keep your pets safe.

Sit

Why teach your dog to sit (or another strong behaviour)?

Whenever I train a new dog, I always place great emphasis on one behaviour over any other…and that is the Sit.  I work really hard to get the dog to sit in-front, behind, at the side, away from me, with duration, and have the ability to sit anywhere that I ask on the first request and fast.

But why is this so important.  I believe that when you have a dog, you should always have safety at the back of your mind. Safety for both of you, not just yourself.  So here are some of the many reasons why I train dogs to have a really strong sit:

Sit at the doorway

  • To allow you to enter or exit the doorway either first or last (your choice).  If they are sitting at the doorway, it means that if you have your hands full, you can walk through the doorway safely without having a dog trip you over halfway through.
  • If you have multiple dogs that are sitting at the door waiting to go out, it allows you to release them individually when you say their name…this one takes a bit of practice
  • If you have friends coming round, you don’t want a dog to be jumping up on them, so ask the dog to sit at the doorway and allow your friends to enter before you release your dog

Sit before exiting the car:

  • If the leash is not already attached to the dog, asking the dog to sit allows you to attach the leash
  • A training opportunity where the dog doesn’t get out of the car before it has presented you with a really strong sit…there is a really strong and exciting reward outside of the car (unless you are at the vets but that’s another blog)

Sit anywhere:

  • Practice the sitting both on and off leash everywhere that you go.  Do this is small chunks though, do not go from the lounge to the local park and expect your dog to sit the same as it does at home
  • Practice in the kitchen, lounge, balcony, back and front garden, etc. and get them consistent in each of those places
  • Practice the sit in different rooms in the house, then ask for the sit whilst you are not in the room.  Use someone else or a camera to check that they are sitting, but only try this exercise once the dog is working well
Most importantly, if you have a strong sit (or other behaviour) it means that you have the ability to stop your dog in its tracks and prevent it from running across a road and being hit or causing an accident, or chasing animals…don’t let this happen to you….Fenton

Crate Training Opportunities

Making Crate Training Fun

Last night I had a friends dog stay with me overnight.   Not one for letting unknown dogs run loose in the house, I decided to use the show crate that I have to keep him safe overnight.

What a great opportunity to do some crate training and crate games.  The unfortunate side was that I didn’t capture the work on camera to show you!

Anyway, Tramp hadn’t been crated before, so seeing the show trolley for the first time was very overwhelming for him.  So as he took each tentative step towards the show trolley he got a click and treat.  When he walked off he got nothing.   I spent a short time repeating this and then stopped for a break.

After the short break, I started the process again, but increased the approximations (I expected more from Tramp than previously) bit by bit and he got closer and closer until he jumped into the crate.  JACKPOT!

Whilst in the crate I gave several click & treats, and then clicked and threw the food outside the crate.  Tramp duly ran out of the crate, grabbed the food and then rushed back into the crate!  BINGO…what a great result after a few short session.  Over the next few hours, we did several short training sessions, where he was rewarded for being in the crate, including extending the length of time within.

Eventually at bedtime, Tramp was let outside for his last pee of the night, and on his return asked to go into the crate, where he had a chew toy.  Tramp was quiet throughout the night and didn’t have any accidents, which was good, but I still play some Crate games with him occasionally.

What games do you play with your dogs to get them comfortable with staying in a crate?