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Will I Have to Use Training Treats Forever?

training treats

"Sit, Stay, Lay"

Getting your dog to do something for a treat may seem easy but you don't want to have to have training treats on you forever. You just want your dog to learn how to listen. Choosing positive reinforcement training for your dog is the best decision you can make for their health and well being but you may be scared off if you are worried about being reliant on treats. Worry no more! A professional dog trainer will teach you that your dog isn't motivated only by treats and how to work away from having to use them.

The Reward Pyramid

Dogs are just like humans in that they place value on rewards. While we have a monetary system, theirs is based on how much joy the reward brings. Food is a huge motivator for dogs and it is a great tool to help you build new behaviors. In terms of treats, your dog is going to value some more than others. A positive reinforcement dog trainer will ask you to be smart about which rewards you give at various times. High value treats are reserved for learning new behaviors or when distractions are causing difficulty. If you are working on behavior that comes very easily to your dog or you are in a low distraction area, you will give your lowest value training treat. What is below high and low value treats are your dogs natural motivators such as talk, touch, eye contact, or whatever it is that they are wanting at the moment like moving forward on a walk.

Go With The Flow

Being successful training your dog requires that you follow the ebb and flow of their behavior. If your dog is performing well, you can afford to reward with your dog with a lower value reward. If your dog is struggling with a difficult distraction or a complicated command, you may have to raise the value of your reward. When it gets easy challenge your dog to raise their skills, when it gets hard find a way to be successful to keep your dog's confidence up.

It's All About Building a Routine

The goal is to have your dog get as many right answers as possible. Just like Pavlov's dog, your dog will start to perform the right behavior without you asking and without a treat in hand as that routine in cemented in. Just like with humans, it can take 30-90 consistent repetitions to form a new habit, how long it takes you to get in that practice is totally up to you. Remember that, your dog will be as consistent as you are. It is just as crucial, if not more, to train your own habits if you hope to train your dogs

Practice makes perfect

The key to achieving in goal is being fully committed to it. Your dog will need regular and consistent practice to change their habits in the long term. If they don't use it, they lose it! Stay consistent and you will see success without treats.

Do you have a question about training with treats? Book a free in-home meet and greet with one of our Knoxville dog trainer today!

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How to get your dog to behave on Thanksgiving

Dog Thanksgiving

Grandma has just arrived, all the dishes are set to come out of the oven, and the turkey is resting. Things are all going according to your masterful plan until someone lets in the dogs! Before you know it, one is after the turkey while the other has already knocked grandma over. This is not the Thanksgiving you had hoped for.

Jumping up and food thievery are the top two issues dog owners face on Thanksgiving. It may sound impossible to try managing your dog's behaviors while also hosting the most important family meal of the year. You can make it possible with the right plan and approach. This year give your dogs a chance to enjoy thanksgiving, they are a part of the family after all. Just like planning the perfect Thanksgiving meal, having well behaved dogs will take some planning and preparation ahead of time. Our positive reinforcement dog trainers say to have the perfect dog on Thanksgiving you need to follow these five steps

  • Start correcting the jumping today! As humans we have a tendency to respond to jumping with "No" or "Off." However, dogs struggle to understand the absence of something clearly. They do much better when we provide a replacement behavior. Your dog needs a way to greet people and for people to recognize that is what your dog is doing. Responding to jumping with a "Sit" command is the best way to teach you dog how to greet people and get recognized for it. Another issue with "off" is that its just a standing position, so when the dog runs up initially the energy level is high, they stand for a moment, like "hey I'm off," and then they revert right back to jumping when it doesn't work out the way they hoped. Giving them a sit command to focus on is going to calm your dogs energy and is more likely to catch positive attention from people coming in the door. Its a heck of a lot more approachable than a dog running up right under your feet first thing you walk in. If your dog doesn't have this totally down by the holiday, make sure to have treats outside for your guests so they can encourage a sit when they walk inside. Practice makes perfect
  • Have interactive toys ready Having a interactive toys you can bring out when your dog get antsy and needs something to do is a great way to minimize the time you have to spend keeping your dog out of trouble. If you have a multiple dog household or there are young children in the home, consider isolating your dog during that time and letting them out when they finish.
  • Make sure your dog is properly exercised mentally and physically Start wearing down your dog's energy level days before the big meal. Schedule out some time for daily dog walks the week of Thanksgiving or hire an experienced dog walker. Incorporate training practice, interactive toys, and brain games to wear down your dog mentally as well.
  • Teach your dog to "Go" and "Leave it" With all the food around, you'll want a reliable way to tell your dog to walk away from temptation. A leave it command is perfect for teaching your dog to walk away. You can practice telling your dog to go out of the kitchen in the time before thanksgiving so you are start developing a boundary.
  • Have a safe, quiet space prepared Thanksgiving is often a very long day and its okay if your dog needs a break from all the commotion. Play some classical music and give them a comfy, secluded place to relax for a bit.

Being prepared and having a good plan will help your dogs thanksgiving go smoothly. If you have additional questions or concern about your dog's behavior over the holiday season, contact one of our dog trainers in Knoxville, TN to set up a free in-home meet and greet.

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How to Calm Your Dog During A Thunderstorm

Thunderstorms are often a favorite part of the summer season. Don't you just love watching the lightening flicker and hearing deep rumbles across the valley? However, all the sights and sounds can be quite frightening for dogs. Some dogs make it obvious how scared they are by hiding, shaking, and whining but others show more subtle signs. The first step to solving a problem is recognizing the first sign of it. Some dogs will begin to show signs of stress shortly before a storm even starts.

Does your dog show these signs of fear during a thunder storm?

  • Shaking or Trembling
  • Whining
  • Barking
  • Pacing
  • Drooling
  • Excessive Licking
  • Sudden Dandruff
  • Yawning
  • Hiding

Every dog lover wants their dog to be happy and healthy. Seeing your dog be fearful of something as natural as a thunderstorm is truly heartbreaking. Lacking the power to change to weather, what options are you left with? There are many great dog training exercises you can put into motion and helpful dog training tools for alleviating stress and calming your dog during a storm.

How To Calm Your Dog During A Storm

  • Play Classical Music: It may sound crazy but it works, and its backed by veterinary science! Research from Colorado State University studied the impact of music on dogs' stress levels and found that classical music had almost an immediate affect calming dogs and it actually encourage sleep as well. They also found dogs responded better to a variety of classical music instead of the repeating the same songs.
  • Play a Game: Get out your treat pouch and start playing a fun dog training game like Hide and Seek. Distracting your dog with fun activities will train your dog's brain to ignore the storm with practice. It will even begin to signal to your dog that storms are a time for fun, not fear.
  • Diffuse Lavender Essential Oils: We all know lavender helps calm and relax humans but did you know it works for dogs too? A study done by Canine Behaviour Centre in Ireland found that dogs spent significantly more time resting and sitting when lavender oil was added to the dogs environment.
  • Try a Thundershirt: It's like a weighted blanket for your dog! The Journal of Veterinary Behavior contains research that showed pressure wraps like Thundershirts yield positive results in reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation.
  • Hire a Dog Trainer: Trying to deal with your dogs anxiety during a thunderstorm can be impossible if your dog is paralyzed with fear. A positive reinforcement dog trainer can design exercises and games for you to practice before the next big thunderstorm. Breaking this issue into smaller steps will help your dog progress and learn to relax.

Ask a dog trainer what they think the best solution is for your dog. Schedule a Free Meet & Greet with a positive reinforcement dog trainer today to have your dog's behavior evaluated and create a personalized dog training plan to fit your needs!

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How To Calm An Aggressive Dog

Barking, growling, and snapping is sure induce fear in even the most experienced dog handlers. Whether you and your dog are being approached by an aggressive dog or if you own an aggressive dog yourself, it's very important to know how to calm an aggressive dog behavior. Knowing how to calm an aggressive dog can minimize your risk of being bitten. Before trying anything, you must first understand what motivates dogs to become aggressive.

Reasons A Dog Might Be Acting Aggressively

  • Fear is the number one reason for most dog aggression. Fears drives all animals to their fight or flight instincts. If a dog has had a bad past experience with other dogs and/or people, that can cause them to be fearful and aggressive.
  • Pain from illness or old age an cause your dog to be less tolerant and more likely to act aggressively.
  • Guarding food, toys, the house, and/or the yard can be a behavior experienced by many dogs. Stray and shelter dogs often have tough beginnings where resources have been scarce in the past driving them to guard what is theirs. Working breed dogs without a job and proper mental stimulation can resort to guarding to fill their need for a purpose.
  • Frustration from not being able to get something on the other side of barrier can cause a dog to redirect their frustration aggressively towards whomever is nearby. This behavior is often seen in dogs that spend long periods of time tied up or left outside with too much time to start obsessing over people and dogs passing by.

Steps To Calm An Aggressive Dog

The following tips will help you diffuse an aggressive dog situation. Remember that dogs can cause great injuries and even death, proceed with caution. Once you are safe contact a professional dog trainer to assist you with your dog's aggressive behavior. An animal control officer can help you get an aggressive stray dog to the right place and resources.

  • Practice Prevention: If you are aware what is causing the dog to act aggressively, eliminate that factor if you can to calm an aggressive dog. Refer to the list above to see if you can identify what is causing the dog to act aggressive.
  • Be Calm: When a dog is snapping or growling, your first instinct is probably to yell "NO!" Loud scolding can cause your dog to become fearful, defensive, and more aggressive. Dogs feed off our energy so easily. Staying calm yourself, can calm an aggressive dog. NEVER use punishment to correct aggressive behavior, contact a professional dog trainer for help.
  • Understand Body Language: Dogs use a lot of different body language signals to show that they are uncomfortable, fearful, and aggressive. Knowing those signals can help you detect a possible aggressive reaction, BEFORE it happens. Look out for tense body posture, lip licking, large dilated pupils, tucked tail, and a ducked or turned away head. Turn your body and eye contact away from a dog that is coming towards you aggressively to let the dog know you aren't a threat.

Dog aggression is a serious matter that requires professional help from a dog trainer to correct. Do you have an aggressive dog in Knoxville, TN or Sevierville, TN? Book a free meet and greet with a positive reinforcement dog trainer to discuss private dog training lessons and create a personalized training plan to fit your dog's needs.

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When Can My Puppy Start Training?

You bring home a cute, cuddly puppy home to love and enjoy. You soon realize that chewing, potty accidents, barking, biting and more are going to be a part of your everyday life, if you don't do something soon. Puppy training becomes a must have but when can your puppy can get started?

Old Habits Die Hard

We have all heard the saying "old habits die hard." This is true for puppy training as well. It is much easier to create a good habit with a new puppy instead of trying to break bad habits that have already been formed. For this reason, it is best to start puppy training as soon as you can. A professional puppy trainer can help you understand how to put good boundaries in place to prevent bad habits from forming.They can bring attention to behaviors that may be cute today but will be annoying tomorrows, like jumping in your lap to get attention.

Energizer Bunny

Puppies can have an astonishing amount of energy all day and sometimes all night. Puppies often take little naps and wake up ready to go again and again. This can be frustrating for their owners after a long day at work or especially, while they are trying to get a good night's sleep. After playing fetch and going on walks, it seems like you can never tire them out. However, a puppy trainer can help come up with activities and games that drain not only physical energy but mental energy as well. Draining mental energy will leave your new puppy exhausted and you'll be happy to relax right along with them.

Vaccines Matter

Puppy trainers see a lot of dogs every single day so it is important to consider your puppy's safety before booking puppy training lessons. Your puppy should have completed their puppy shots and boosters before beginning class to ensure they do not contract any disease. This is usually completed around 12 weeks of age and you are free to start training immediately after.

Is your puppy up-to-date on vaccines and ready to start puppy training? Book a FREE Meet and Greet with a Knoxville puppy trainer today!

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Ten Signs That Your Dog Is Bored

If most dogs had their way, life would be one long visit to the dog park. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. Most human dog owners have to work 8 or more hours a day, leaving your dog alone and up to his own devices. In many cases, dogs left alone get bored and that can lead to trouble. Here are 10 signs that your dog might be bored.

Chewing

It doesn’t matter how many toys Fido has at his disposal. A bored dog might seek out other things to satisfy his need to chew if he’s feeling bored. This can be detrimental to your shoe collections, furniture and even the walls of your home.

Digging

A bored dog can try to create her own fun by engaging in digging behavior, which can be destructive to your home and lawn.

Over excitement

Your dog is always happy to see you, but if his greeting is over the top, this could mean he’s bored at home when you’re not around.

Excessive licking

If your dog is constantly licking himself or you, you might think he’s just being clean or affectionate. But in some cases, excessive licking can indicate boredom.

Escaping and running away.

If your dog makes a run for it every chance he gets, chances are this means he’s bored with his surroundings.

Pacing

Humans might pace when their feeling fidgety and the same goes for dogs. A dog who is bored with extra energy to burn might pace the halls, fence or room.

Panting without physical exertion

There are a number of reasons why your dog may pant. Heat, physical exertion, pain or even just breed disposition. If you’ve been able to rule these out but still find your dog panting, boredom or anxiety might be to blame.

Scratching without physical explanation

Scratching, biting or chewing can be a sign of boredom in dogs. If you find your pooch engaging in these behaviors after ruling out allergies, boredom might be the culprit.

Pulling the stuffing from toys

Destructive play can be fun for your dog. If you come home to find a trail of fluff leading down the hall, you might have a dog who is bored when you’re away.

Barking

Many things might inspire your dog to bark. The mailman. A bird in a tree outside the window. The wind. But if your dog’s barking becomes a nuisance to you or your neighbors, chances are he is bored and looking for ways to entertain himself.

How to combat doggie boredom

Keep your dog healthy and engaged and avoid boredom-related behaviors by letting your dog channel his energy into healthier outlets. Ways to fight doggie boredom can include the following.

  • Positive reinforcement training
  • Making good use of daily interactions
  • Using the puzzle toys to add mental stimulation, which can be purchased through MyCuriousCanine
  • Playing obedience games
  • Engaging sports such as agility, barn hunt etc.
  •  

A well-trained and mentally stimulated dog is a joy to have in your home. Every minute of each day can’t always be exciting for you or your dog, but making a plan to keep boredom at bay when your dog is home alone can help you have a more meaningful relationship with your dog. For more information about combating your dog’s boredom or stop destructive dog behavior, learn more about our dog training style or book an appointment today.

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Stop Your Dog From Running Away

Boredom Busters: Breaking Bad-behavior Patterns

Your dog has a good life. Car rides, treats, toys, walks and love fill her days. Then why does she try to run away each time the door is open? It’s a complex problem, but the answer is usually simple: Boredom.

Just like people, dogs are smart, social creatures who are susceptible to the same pitfalls we fall prey to when we don’t feel stimulated. For example, many of us find that unhealthy habits emerge when our day feels tedious or boring. For humans, these unhealthy habits might include overeating, nail biting and procrastination. For dogs, bad habits associated with boredom might mean running away, digging, destructive chewing, endless barking and other unwanted behaviors.

Though all dogs are vulnerable, destructive or unwanted behaviors associated with boredom seem to be most likely to be a problem for working breeds. Huskies, for example, are notorious diggers; Great Pyrenees might wander. Retrievers might chew when feeling bored.

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Keeping your dog stimulated is the best way to combat boredom. Relying on a positive reinforcement training method to teach your dog good manners and even tricks will keep him engaged and help discourage running away and other undesirable behavior. Additionally, a training program will keep his mental synapses firing, diminish boredom and even him relax.

Other things you can do to prevent boredom and help curb your dog’s destructive behavior might include: Choosing the right toys for your dog can also help diminish boredom. Food-dispensing puzzle toys and Kong-type chew toys give your dog a yummy reward for cracking the code.

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Instead of just turning your dog loose in your fenced yard to entertain herself, play with her. Turn outside time into an engaging experience. Take your training to new environments. Adding new distractions – like those in the park or on the square downtown – to your dog’s training routine can create new challenges, in a good way! Even walking a new route through your neighborhood can stimulate your dog and expose her to new sights, smells and sounds.

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Helping your dog break out of a boredom rut can not only stop unwanted behaviors, but can also strengthen your relationship. My Curious Canine’s positive reinforcement training techniques teach you how to build a connection with your dog built on respect and proper communication. For more information, learn more about my dog training style or contact me to book an appointment.

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