Hello K-9 Furiends! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend. The Fourth of July fell on a Tuesday this year, so we decided to make it a long weekend. In doing so I was able to see not 1 but 2 fireworks shows! Our weekend started at Kimball Lake in Newaygo. My in-laws live there and own jet skis, kayaks, and a boat to pull this kids on the tube. We all had a great time and caught some fish too!
Saturday night was the night for fireworks. The lake association hires a professional and we all take our boats on the lake to enjoy the show. Now, if you have a dog that is fearful of guns, fireworks and thunderstorms I am sorry, but my dogs are not. In fact, my dog Bracha is a bit opposite of fearful- but I will get back to that. If you have a dog that fears storms I have a blog article on that issue and you can find it here.
We enjoyed the fireworks and headed back to our property for a little of our own fireworks with the kids. My wife Julie said, “You’re going to have to hold Bracha!” Bracha likes to chase the water coming out of the garden hose and chase the fire balls from the fireworks. If she caught the ball of fire she would bite it! Have you seen the video of the dog running around with the Roman Candle in his mouth shooting balls of fire everywhere? That would be Bracha.
Fortunately, Bracha is very well trained. I called her and told her to lie down. She maintained the down until the fireworks were over. Now, that is the ultimate distraction for Bracha. If you want to frustrate your dog and build drive, hold your dog back. This is how we build aggression in police dogs. This is how dogs learn to be mean, like the ones tied outdoors all the time. They ultimately end up breaking their tie-out and then run around in the neighborhood attacking people. Don’t tie your dog. I knew not to leash Bracha up and hold her back- that would just make her lunge, bark and make it an unpleasant experience for everyone.
How do you get to the point where your dog will down/stay? Practice, practice, practice. The formula is quite simple but takes time and persistence. The secret formula is
- Teach down/stay
- Increase Duration
- Increase Distance
- Add Distractions
When teaching a down stay I use a leash and food. Teach the dog down and put the reward (food) on the floor between his/her paws. That is where they always get paid, the reward is on the ground. Once you have mastered the down the dog needs to learn to maintain a down and that is where the leash comes into play. Work on the time the dog stays in down: 30 seconds, then a minute and so on. My dogs will maintain a long down. As the dog learns, put distance between you and the dog. The dog should maintain a down whether you are standing right next to them or out of sight. If the dog moves, you need to take the leash and lead them back to the exact spot they were at and put him/her back in a down. Next add distractions: food, children, toys. The more distractions, the better dog control you will have. It is a lot of work but well worth it.
If you are interested in learning more about how to teach dog control and want to see our methods in action, contact us today for a consultation and demonstration! We can help show you how to not only love your dog, but love your dog’s behavior.