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Archive for October, 2006

Why does he eat grass?

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

I know my 14 year old cocker spaniel still eats grass.

Have you ever gone on a fast-food bender, eating anything you can find with the word “fried” in the name? When you came out on the other side of those dark, frightening days, you may have found yourself craving something cold, crisp, and nutritionally clean – something like a salad. Your dog’s body works the same way. Every so often he may wish to partake of a few juicy blades of grass to compensate for a lack of vegetable matter in his diet. If you notice him grazing often, try switching him to a food with higher veggie content or even give him some steamed veggies as a treat, as they’re far easier to digest than grass.

Another reason he may be visiting Nature’s Salad Bar is to help calm down an upset tummy. Dogs will sometime eat grass to induce vomiting if they’re not feeling well, which is a natural and fairly healthy way to fight illness.

The only time you need to worry about your dog’s vegetarian habits is if they start interfering with his regular diet and nutrition. If he refuses to eat his normal food or is inducing vomiting too often, a trip to the vet is probably in order.

Can Your Dog Wave?

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

To teach your dog or puppy to wave:

Face your dog and hold out your hand as if you are going to shake his paw.

Now, when your dog lifts his paw in response to your hand, don’t take it, instead pull back your hand, and say, “Wave.”

Then praise and give your dog a treat.

How To Train Your Dog To Heel

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

Perfection in FREE HEELING is achieved through leash training. Study your dog’s natural movements and select a speed suitable to the dog. The heeling exercises will then be a normal procedure, based on the dog’s physical and mental characteristics. If you have not already done so, get into the habit of starting the heeling action with your LEFT foot. In the Novice work, it didn’t matter which foot you started on, because the Novice exhibitor normally uses the heeling command. Then too, when working with a large untrained dog, the trainer has better balance when he starts on the right foot. For the advanced training, teach your dog that when your RIGHT foot moves, it means to STAY. When your LEFT foot steps forward, it means to FOLLOW.

A common mistake made by amateur trainers is to jerk the leash when they step forward at the start of the heeling exercise. This TIMING is incorrect! There should be no hand movement, only the verbal command, such as “Robin, Heel!” which is given before the foot moves. The leash is jerked AFTER the trainer starts, while the foot is coming down on the first step, and WHILE the trainer is giving praise. A gentle patting of the side follows EVERY jerk of the leash.

The majority of dogs perform with accuracy when the leash is on but will take advantage on the HEEL FREE. To overcome this independent attitude, surprise your dog by USING the leash when she doesn’t expect it. During the heeling routine, turn sharply at
short intervals and catch her off guard. AFTER you turn, tug on the leash forcefully, using a minimum of hand motion but with exaggerated praise. Do this two or three times, then make the turns WITHOUT jerking the leash but GIVE PRAISE JUST THE SAME. If the leash is used continuously, your dog will heel wider than ever, or will heel close through fear.

Practice about-turns from a standstill. As you pivot, reach back with your RIGHT foot and tap the dog lightly on the right flank. Bring your feet together, reach down and pat her immediately. The dog must think the foot correction was unintentional. But you accomplished your purpose by making her turn.

Make one complete circle to the right, first while in motion, and again from a stand. Circling keeps a dog alert and watchful of movements. If it is a big dog you are training, reach back with your right hand when you make an about-turn, and “spank” the dog playfully on the rear. When she looks around in surprise, clap your hands in front of your body and coax her to come close at heel. Encouraging your dog to remain at heel position through cleverly disguised tricks is a better method of training than jerking the collar repeatedly.

Fast And Slow

During the heeling exercise, dash forward and snap the leash with praise. Slow to a walk, and say a quiet “Good Girl!” Do a fast run without jerking the leash, but give praise just the same. The praise can be dropped after your dog has learned to change pace, but during the teaching stage, the dog will be more responsive if she thinks the jerk on the leash is part of a running game.