1. November Behavior of the Month: 4-Corner Stay

    November 6, 2013 by admin

    This month we’re continuing to work on “Stay” in the Doggy Business play groups by teaching a fun game called the 4-Corner Stay. This game incorporates two behaviors – asking your dog to stay in a sit or down while distracted (in this case the distraction is the trainer walking away) and asking your dog to come when called. During the play groups we also have the additional distractions of other dogs romping around or coming to sit by the dog that’s doing the exercise – making it an extra tough game!

    To play the 4-Corner Stay Game:
    1. Start in an open room in your house where you can move easily from one corner of the room to another.
    2. Move to a corner of your room, face your dog, and ask your dog to sit or down. Then use your “Stay” hand signal or verbal cue.
    3. Walk away from your dog to the next corner of the room (ideally walk backwards to start the game, if this is safe for you to do, so you can maintain eye-contact with your dog).
    4. When you get to the corner, stop and call your dog to you. You can ask for a sit or not, depending on how hard you want to make the game. Give your dog a treat, put them in a sit or down stay, and repeat the exercise moving to the next corner of the room.
    5. Move to all four corners of the room to complete the game.

    If your dog gets up out of the stay, simply move with them back to the corner, reset them in the stay, and continue the exercise. If your dog gets up several times, then make the exercise easier by trying to complete a smaller square (you could start by just moving 3 to 5 feet from your dog each time), or you can continue to work on their bungee stay.


  2. October Behavior of the Month: Circle Stay

    October 2, 2013 by admin

    Last month we discussed how to teach a bungee stay (a sit stay while you moved 1, 2, or even 3 steps back from your dog), and this month we’re working on a more advanced version of stay, the Circle Stay.  As with the bungee stay, the Circle Stay is another great tool for teaching your dog to stay in a sit or down while distracted, even when the trainer is out of the dog’s sight.  In this case, the dogs learn to tolerate your movement as you walk in a circle all the way around them.

    To teach a Circle Stay:

    1- Ask your dog to sit and then use your “Stay” hand signal or verbal cue.  Take one step to the right or left of your dog then quickly return to them while they are still sitting and give them a treat.  Remember to always go back to your original starting place in front of your dog to give them treats, otherwise they’ll spin to follow you and the treats!

    2- Do 4-5 repetitions of the exercise taking just 1 step to the right or left of your dog.

    • If your dog only gets 1 or 2 of the repetitions correct, make the exercise easier by just taking a half step to the side.
    • If your dog gets 3 of the repetitions correct, do the same exercise 4-5 more times, again just taking one step to the side.
    • If your dog gets all of the repetitions correct, then your dog is ready for you to add a second step, (moving in a clockwise or counter-clockwise semicircle around your dog)!

    3- Continue to add one step at a time, repeating each stage or criteria of the training (1 step, 2 steps, 3 steps, etc) until your dog can do it correctly 4-5 times in a row.  At that point, raise your criteria by adding a single step to your semicircle.

    4- Once you can move in a semicircle from in front of your dog to directly behind your dog, try to complete the full circle.  Most dogs have the hardest time sticking their stay when you move directly behind them and they lose eye contact with you.  So, once they can tolerate that, they can probably hold their stay while you quickly complete the circle all the way around them.

    After each successful repetition, praise your dog and them give them a food reward.  Try to use a small piece of something tasty that your dog likes. Give them praise and a reward after every success.

    If your dog gets up out of the sit stay, simply reset them in the stay and continue the exercise.  Continue until you can move a full 360 degrees around your dog.


  3. September Behavior of the Month: Bungee Stay

    September 3, 2013 by admin

    Sit and down stays are very useful behaviors for dog training. A stay can help prevent a lot of impulsive behavior. For example, imagine parking your dog in a down stay on a mat while you answer the front door (no jumping on friends and neighbors!) or cook dinner. The Bungee Stay is a great way to help your dog improve his or her stay.

    Dogs like to follow us, and when we’re teaching them to stay in a sit or down position our movement away from them can cause them to get up out of that position. A bungee stay is a great tool to teach your dog to remain in a sit and/or a down position while tolerating your movement away from and towards your dog.

    To teach a Bungee Stay:

    1. 1. Start with a one-second sit stay without taking a step away from your dog. At this point you’re teaching them that all they have to do is sit and stay in that position and they’ll get a treat after one second. Once your dog has mastered a one-second sit stay (in other words, can do it 5 times in a row without getting up before you release them from the stay), then you can add a step.
    2. 2. Ask your dog to sit and then use your “Stay” hand signal or verbal cue. Take one step away from your dog then quickly return to them while they are still sitting. Again, do 5 repetitions at one step.
    • A) If your dog only gets 1 or 2 of the repetitions correct, make the exercise easier by just taking a half step back.
    • B) If your dog gets 3 or 4 of the repetitions correct, do the same exercise 5 more times, again just taking one step back.
    • C) If your dog gets 5 out of the 5 repetitions correct, then your dog is ready for a two-step sit stay!

    After each successful repetition, praise your dog and them give them a food reward. Try to use a small piece of something tasty that your dog likes. Give them praise and a reward after every success.

    If your dog gets up out of the sit stay, simply reset them in the stay and continue the exercise. Continue until you can’t move back any more because you’ve reached a barrier of some kind, then reposition your dog and continue in a new direction. Hallways are very good for this exercise. Follow the Rule of 5 and your dog will get this in no time!

    Check back every month for more Boggy Business Portland Dog Training Tips!


  4. August Behavior of the Month: Agility and Freestyle Skills

    August 6, 2013 by admin

    This month instead of focusing on one behavior or skill set, we thought it would be fun to talk about some canine sports that can provide a great opportunity to mix up your training routine.  Canine sports offer new options for working on basic obedience skills and skill sets specific to the individual sports. There are a wide variety of canine sports out there these days to suit any dog and any handler, ranging from nose work to dock diving or even dancing with your dog.  At Doggy Business, we like to incorporate skills from Agility, Rally Obedience, Canine Freestyle (yep, dancing with your dog!), and Treibball into our play groups and group training classes.  Why?  Because they’re fun and the dogs love it!

    Agility may be one of the most well-known canine sports and it involves a dog-handler team moving through an obstacle course in a timed trial. The courses typically have a variety of jumps, tunnels, a-frames, a teeter-totter, and weave poles.  The dog is off-leash on the course and the handler must direct the dog by using their voice, movement, and hand signals.

    Rally Obedience is a sport that developed as an alternative to Traditional Obedience competition and emphasizes positive reinforcement training and rewarding the dog during competition.  In Rally O trials, handler-dog teams navigate a course with numbered signs indicating different behaviors to perform, such as sit-stay, come, or weave through cones.

    In Canine Freestyle, a dog-handler team moves together in a choreographed routine to music. Freestyle emphasizes maneuverability, tricks, and learning more about your dog’s pace and style of movement. Freestyle is all about performance, so it’s a sport where group feedback about teamwork and style is important.

    Treibball is a relatively new canine sport that requires dogs to use traditional obedience and herding skills to drive balls into a goal in a timed trial. The dogs use their nose or shoulder to push exercise balls into a goal in a specific order. As with agility, the handler directs the dog to each ball by using their voice, movement, and hand signals.

    All of these canine sports emphasize working with your dog as a team. Incorporating games and training techniques from dog sports can help trainers (that’s you!) develop new strategies for getting and keeping a dog’s attention and improve their reliability around distractions. It can also give you an opportunity to experiment with different training techniques such as capturing and shaping.  Both techniques are largely prompt-free, which means the trainer is not actively prompting a specific behavior to happen, such as luring a dog to sit or down with a piece of food.  Instead, capturing and shaping involve waiting for your dog to do something you like and rewarding it, resulting in creativity, persistence, more confidence, and greater autonomy for your dog.

    One classic Canine Freestyle skill that we’ll be focusing on in the Mix it Up class is the “tugger” (named for Tugger the Portugese Water Dog who first performed and standardized the move). When performing a tugger the handler uses a series of sit stays and around movements (right finishes, call fronts, and circles) to move around the dog and then have the dog move around them in a similar way. If your dog has a solid stay, you can teach a tugger by following these easy instructions.

    1. 1- Start with your dog in a sit at your left side and treat the sit.
    2. 2- Ask your dog to “stay” and give a hand signal if you have one.
    3. 3- Move in front of your dog in a half circle counterclockwise and end with your dog sitting on your right side (both facing forward). Treat the stay.
    4. 4- From this position, lure your dog in a half circle counterclockwise in front of you and then back into a sit on your left side (both facing forward).
    5. 5- Deliver your treat once your dog is in the sit.
    6. 6- Over time, you can phase out the lure to move your dog from your right side to your left and introduce a hand signal or verbal cue.

    Check out our video at https://www.doggybusiness.net/dog-blog to see some tuggers in action and also some fun agility jump footage from the Doggy Business LLC play groups.


  5. July Behavior of the Month: Object Targeting

    July 1, 2013 by admin

    Dog Training Is Fun

    In February we discussed how to teach your dog to hand target (to touch your hand with their nose), and this month we’re focusing on how to transfer that behavior to objects – like fixed targets, target sticks, or the balls used in the canine sport of Treibball!  Object targeting can be a great tool for teaching your dog fancy behaviors (ringing a bell or tuning off a light switch) or teaching tricks such as spin, jump, somersault, or weave through your legs. You can also teach a dog to target his or her mat or bed and sit or lie down, a handy behavior to have while cooking dinner or greeting guests at the door.

    Object targeting is also a part of the fun herding sport of Treibball. In Treibball, dogs use traditional obedience and herding skills to drive balls into a goal.  The dog uses his nose or shoulder to push the balls in a specific order and the game stops when all eight balls are in the goal.

    In play groups, once we have a consistent hand targeting behavior, we introduce object targeting. It’s a fun skill to work on a home, too.  Here are the basics for getting it started:

    1. To warm up your dog start with hand targeting, moving your hand in a variety of locations about 3-5 inches from your dog’s muzzle and nose.  Ask for a touch and click and treat every time your dog touches your hand.
    2. When your dog is touching your hand consistently, put tape or a sticky note on your hand and continue to ask for a touch, clicking and treating only when your dog touches the tape or sticky note.
    3. Work on this for 3-5 minutes several times a day for a day or two.
    4. Once your dog is consistently touching the tape or sticky note in your hand, you can transfer it to other objects, like doors, drawers, or your target stick.
    5. Alternatively, you can start object targeting by using a target stick.  Check out our object targeting video on our YouTube page at http://youtu.be/LgtRkeWi3O0 to see how to get this started.

  6. June Behavior of the Month: Leave It & Take It

    June 5, 2013 by admin

    Teaching a dog to leave it – to not eat a piece of food or other object that they’re interested in – is a critical skill for the safety of your dog. How often have your seen those chicken bones on the sidewalk during a walk? Or dropped a piece of food that may be unhealthy or even dangerous for your dog to eat while you’re cooking? In these circumstances and many others leave it can be a life-saving skill for your dog. Luckily, leave it can be a very straight-forward skill to teach. It’s important to start teaching the skill with simple exercises and slowly increase the difficulty of the exercises over time. The behavior will become more and more reliable and will be much more likely to occur in challenging environments (like that chicken bone on the sidewalk).

    A great way to start teaching “Leave It” and “Take It” is to teach your dog that “leave it” means not to touch, mouth, or chew your closed fist when it has food in it.

    • Put a piece of food in your hand and close your hand into a fist over the treat. Then, put your fist right in front of your dog’s nose. Say “leave it.” Your dog is not going to know what that means, so they’re probably going to try to mouth and paw at your hand to get the food. Leave your hand where it is by their nose and wait until they move their nose and paws away from your hand.
    • It may just be a split-second of no contact. The moment you see this happen, say, “take it,” and then open your hand. It’s important to say the cue “take it” before you open your hand to let your dog eat the treat, so that he/she learns the meaning of “take it.”

    There are a few things to remember when you’re working on the exercise.

    • Put your fist right in front of your dog’s nose and keep your hand still while they’re mouthing or pawing at it.
    • Say the “leave it” cue once only. Don’t repeat the cue as your dog is trying to get the treat out of your hand, just stay still and quiet while they figure out that pawing and mouthing your hand doesn’t work to get the treat.

    Repeat the exercise 3-5 times in a row. Most dogs will quickly learn that all they need to do to get the treat is not touch your hand. Once you think your dog has gotten the hang of it, try to gradually build up to one second of time between the moment that your dog moves their nose and paws away from your hand, and saying “take it” and giving them the treat.

    Once your dog can do a “leave it” without touching your closed fist for 3-5 seconds, then you can make the exercise more difficult by working towards having your dog “leave” a treat in your open hand.

    • As with the first exercise, start by holding a treat in your closed hand, and say “leave it.” Wait until your dog moves their head away from your hand, then open your hand part-way. Close your hand into a fist as soon as the dog tries to take the treat, and re-open your hand as soon as the dog backs off again.
    • Once the dog keeps their head back while your palm is partially open for about a second, say “take it” and give your dog the treat.

    Once your dog leaves treats in your open hand regularly, you can build on this new foundation behavior in a variety of ways to increase the reliability of your dog’s skill and make “leave it” useful it in real-world situations.


  7. May Behavior of the Month: Coming when called

    May 6, 2013 by admin

    A good recall is a wonderful skill for a dog to have. Not only does it allow us to call our dogs away from dangerous or unwanted interactions, it makes us feel good when our dogs come when called. It is a very fancy skill but one that usually takes more time to train than other skills and behaviors.

    The secret to training a highly reliable recall is to make it successful and fun for your dog from the very beginning. We want our dogs to come when called every time we call them. Reliability is very important when it comes to the recall. To achieve this high standard we will need to make it easy for our dogs to respond correctly from the very start!

    The most common reason our dogs don’t come when called is that they are distracted by something much more compelling. A squirrel, another dog, people, cats, smells – there are many things that distract our dogs. Training the behavior in a less distracting environment strengthens the behavior (more reliability) so that it becomes much more likely in more distracting environments.

    The second most common reason the reliability of the recall goes down is that some of our dogs learn that coming when called means that the fun is over. We call them, then we leave the dog park. When we call them, they no longer get to play with the other dogs or smell all the smells – their freedom is over. These events actually serve to punish coming when called. No wonder they don’t come reliably!

    To teach a reliable recall start working with your dog in a safe place, either a fenced backyard or even inside the house. When you begin training, make sure there are no major distractions to compete with (other dogs, toys, people, etc). The setting should be kind of boring so that you will be the star attraction for your dog.

    Step 1: While in the house or in a fenced yard, let your dog mill around a bit so she isn’t really paying much attention to you. When she’s not too far away (start at about 10 feet) call her to you enthusiastically, with a happy, fun tone. Try to decide on one standard cue, like “Rowdy come” and use the cue only once as you call your dog.

    Step 2: As soon as she begins to come to you, start cheering her on with all kinds of praise until she gets to you. Whistling, clapping, and crouching down can all help to make coming to you more fun for your dog, so give them a try.

    Step 3: As soon as she gets to you, give her some yummy treats (like cheese, chicken, liver or a lick of baby food – tasty things that she usually does not get) and even more praise. When you give the treats, give them one after the other instead of all at once.

    She should be pretty happy at this point. You did great. Repeat this process again, but only after your dog has lost interest in you and your treats. Wait until she is again milling around away from you, then repeat the steps. You may need to wait for several minutes.

    Step 4: If your dog is running to you when they hear your cue, lure your dog to sit in front of you once he or she gets back to you after you call them and also introduce a collar grab. This is a great way to make sitting and leashing up automatically part of the recall behavior. Once your dog comes and sits, you grab the collar, THEN deliver 5 treats!

    Have fun with this exercise! Training a good recall can be really fun. It just looks so sharp when your dog runs up and sits after you call them. Be sure to call a certified trainer if you are having any trouble. Little problems can be solved quickly if dealt with quickly.


  8. April Behavior of the Month: Proofing Sit & Down

    April 5, 2013 by admin

    Who doesn’t love dog tricks??

    Does your dog know sit? Probably. For most of you when you ask your dog to sit, your dog will likely put their bottom on the ground, often directly in front of you. It’s an excellent start. What about when there’s a distraction, for instance if your dog sees another person, dog, or cat on your walk? Will your dog still sit? Asking your dog to sit can bail them out of some tricky situations. If your dog is sitting, then they’re not jumping, begging, chasing, or doing some other rowdy, unruly, or potentially dangerous behavior.

    Our April Behavior of the Month is proofing sit and down, so that dogs in the play groups will understand that the word “sit” means to put your bottom on the ground no matter what’s going on around them and “down” means to lay down no matter what’s going on around them. It may sound easy, but this can be a pretty challenging request for many young playful dogs that are having such a good time with their buddies. Many times we can interrupt play by saying a dog’s name to get their attention (Name Game!), say the word “sit” and they’ll give us the behavior. In some cases, we’ll say “sit” and the dog won’t give us the behavior. What to do then? We will try to make our cue easier for the dog to understand by giving them a hand signal to sit (with no treats in our hands). If that doesn’t work, we’ll use a piece of food in our hand to lure a sit.

    Our goal is to figure out some way to get the sit, so that we can reward it. For all dogs (and all mammals) rewarding a behavior will make that behavior happen more often. So, if we can get the sit in a highly distracting environment like a room full of playful dogs, it will make it more likely that the dog will sit the next time we ask. This is a great way for your dog to develop a good habit of sitting no matter the distraction.

    At home you can work on this the same way, asking for sits on walks, when visitors come to your house, or in other distracting environments. If your dog doesn’t respond to the word “sit” when you say it, try not to repeat it. Instead try a hand signal and, if that doesn’t work, lure the sit. Have fun and “Go Sit”!


  9. March Behavior of the Month: MORE DOG TRICKS!!!

    March 27, 2013 by admin

    Who doesn’t love dog tricks??

    Tricks! Shake, touch, roll over, spin, dance – they’re all fun to teach and fun to show off to friends and family. Tricks also can be a wonderful complement to your dog’s basic manners skills. For example, teaching your dog to catch a ball in the air is a great trick and also a fun way to continue work on their stay (by asking them to stay and wait until you toss the ball). Doing a shake, spin, or retrieve also can be a terrific reward for some dogs after completing a basic behavior like coming when called. And many dogs like to do tricks just because they’re fun to do!


  10. March Behavior of the Month: DOG TRICKS!!!

    March 5, 2013 by admin

    Who doesn’t love dog tricks??

    Tricks! Shake, touch, roll over, spin, dance – they’re all fun to teach and fun to show off to friends and family. Tricks also can be a wonderful complement to your dog’s basic manners skills. For example, teaching your dog to catch a ball in the air is a great trick and also a fun way to continue work on their stay (by asking them to stay and wait until you toss the ball). Doing a shake, spin, or retrieve also can be a terrific reward for some dogs after completing a basic behavior like coming when called. And many dogs like to do tricks just because they’re fun to do!

    At Doggy Business, we’ve been working on teaching “spin” (or turn around in a circle) during our Mix It Up class and in play groups. Spin is an easy trick to teach with either a lure or using your hand as a target (to learn more about targeting, check out February’s Behavior of the Month).

    To teach a spin by luring:

      1. Start in a quiet place with no distractions and your dog standing or sitting in front of you.
      2. Take a treat and put it directly in front of your dog’s nose, and then begin to slowly move the treat to lure your dog in a large clockwise or counter-clockwise circle. You may need to adjust the speed at which you move your hand and where you are placing the lure (ideally directly in front of your dog’s nose, not too far above or below it).
      3. After your dog completes the circle and returns to standing or sitting directly in front of you, feed them the treat and return your hand to your side.
      4. Repeat several times and try both clockwise and counter-clockwise.
      5. Once your dog has done the spin several times in a row and is comfortable moving through the whole circle, you can start to phase out the food lure by moving the treat from the hand you were luring with, to your opposite hand. Use your other hand as if you had a lure and lure your dog in a spin, then treat from the opposite hand. Over time you can make your luring hand movements smaller and less pronounced to transition to a hand signal, and then add a verbal cue.


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