I now have a program on Long Beach Local Television called Dogs By Andrew. This is our first on the air dog show, however we have many shows to come. Most of the shows in the near future will be about the different breeds we met at the expo.
I am fascinated by the many dog breeds and they all have unique traits that at one time had a particular purpose. While the dogs of the past may have been working dogs, today’s dogs tend to be bred more and more for house pets.
I am wishing you the very best in dogs and in life,
Keeping dogs that are aggressive toward each other is not a problem most people have. However, it is a problem I encounter enough that I wanted to write about it. Actually what motivated me to write this was working with a couple of dogs who do not get along. You may not own two incompatible dogs but there is a good chance at some point you will have a dog visit that doesn’t get along with yours, or you may go on vacation with dogs who don’t like each other.
When I was younger I mainly worked with aggressive dogs doing police and security work. Often we had several dogs in the house or kennel that really enjoyed having a go at each other. It seemed quite natural to just keep them apart. I know many of the people I work with think it’s unnatural to keep their pet dogs separated. I just want to point out that this is one option. Even if you only use separation as a temporary option.
I have managed a kennel with over 60 security dogs. These dogs would all be let out at the same time and they were housed two dogs to a run. They had to learn not to fight when let out and when being fed. It took a few weeks but they did learn real fighting, fence fighting, and excessive barking was not allowed.
I remember one day while picking up pans one dog got out and cornered me. I thought I was going to do battle with that dog. Fortunately the owner of the security business/kennel came out gave the dog a stern command and it went right back into its run. This incident emphasized how important one of my rules is. That rule is always secure the latch on kennel runs. This applies to gates too. You will read a bit more about this rule later.
I am going to go over environmental management more than training. While training is important, it may take some time before both dogs are trained. However, you can start managing the dog’s environment right now.
The first and the obvious solution to preventing dog fights is don’t let the dogs get together. This is often easier said than done. It takes cooperation from all the people who have access to the dogs. While teaching everyone to keep the dogs separated is part of a management strategy, we cannot rely on people doing it. At least we can’t rely on everyone in the house successfully managing this behavior without some planning and good environmental design.
Usually one or both dogs are motivated to engage the other. Often they are looking for that window of opportunity. The unlatched door, careless guest, or obliging child. Dogs can move mighty fast and it is never pleasant to break up a dog fight.
We can keep the dogs separated by confinement and restraint. I prefer confinement, but a combination of confinement and restraint may sometimes be useful.
Confinement involves having one or more barriers between the two dogs. Restraint could be keeping one or both dogs on a leash.
As a general rule I use at least two barriers to keep the dogs away from each other. If you are using two dog runs/kennels make sure the dogs cannot do any fence fighting. To discourage fence fighting have the runs away from each other. I used to have a small kennel in the desert and I always had at least one dog run away from the others. The separate kennel was for that problem dog that just didn’t get along with others. Eventually the problem dog would be integrated into the general dog population, but it would start off away from the others.
You will also want to make sure no one accidentally lets the dogs out. A motivated dog can breach a barrier in several ways. One way they can get past the barrier is learning how to open a gate or door. This is how the security dog that cornered me got out. You need to make sure the dogs can’t let themselves out or in. I usually secure the gate latch with a snap, gate hook, or lock.
Having two gates satisfies one of my rules for dog safety – keep at least two barriers between the dog(s) and the problem.
I once had a very aggressive and somewhat unstable German Shepherd Dog and my rule for him was to have at least three barriers between him and the public. I also took the extra precaution that his dog run/kennel was to always be locked.
The three barrier rule is also good for some households with dogs that are very aggressive toward each other. It gives an extra measure of security when more than one person makes a mistake at the same time. It may seem unlikely that two people would be opening each gate or door at the same time, but the scenario is more common than you would think.
A dog run inside a gated side yard will add the extra barrier to a two dog run setup.
You can also crate one dog and put the other in a dog run or secured side yard. If people keep all the house doors closed you now have three barriers between the two dogs. There can be some negative consequences to this method, so I recommend consulting a dog trainer before you choose using a crate. Especially if you use it more than occasionally.
One of the biggest rules that must be followed is to always close Doors or Gates.
Dog Safety Rule Number One Close the Door! Close the gate!
The door cannot be left open – not even for a second.
There are some extra safety measures that can be taken for dogs that bolt doors. As a temporary solution I will sometimes put an exercise pen (ex pen) up as a barrier to the door. If the ex pen is not secured a determined dog will crash right through it. Even if it is secured it may only give you a few extra seconds to react. But those few seconds can be a life saver.
Some people will find that a quick closing mechanism on the door is a good investment. This is particularly true if there are a lot of children in the house and it can also assist forgetful gardener/lawn care workers.
It has been my experience that having just a house door separating two or more aggressive dogs is not enough. It is too easy for someone going through the door to let a dog to slip past. What I find happens more frequently is that many people will not completely close the door. This is what happened with the dogs that prompted this post. In breaking up the dogs fighting I injured my hand. It has been over three months and my hand still hurts. For a couple of months it was my whole arm that ached. My use of that arm was limited for at least the first month. If you only have house doors separating the dogs you should invest in at least a couple of ex pens to put up around the inside of the house and the outside as well.
I also suggest installing self closing security doors leading to the yard and have security doors for sliding glass doors as well. These are improvements that will provide additional benefits other than keeping the dogs away from each other.
An alarm system that lets you know when a door is left open would be another good add-on that could be very helpful. It will also assist in teaching the humans to close doors.
Another option and one that I usually classify more with training is getting the dogs used to wearing a muzzle. Teaching a dog to wear a muzzle should be part of regular pet training. There are several scenarios where having a muzzle on the dog may be necessary. If I remember right all sheriff dogs needed to wear a muzzle when being transported in a helicopter. Being comfortable with a muzzle will be useful when transporting and housing dogs in emergencies such as earthquakes and fires. Both of which we have a lot of in California.
Wishing you the best in dogs and in life, Andrew Ledford
Southern California Dog training
Using a target stick for dog training isn’t only for Baby Boomers. However, as I get a little older I find it mighty helpful for training small dogs. You may ask, helpful for what? Well when training small dogs bending over hundreds, even thousands of time a day can get tiresome. Bending in itself isn’t so bad, but moving a small dog around while bending can put extra strain on one’s back. The target stick lets you move or lure the dog without bending.
A lot of trainers see slip collars on most of the dogs in my videos and think I don’t use positive reinforcement. Well the slip collar is there for safety. A high quality slip collar is the safest collar for an urban environment.
Conditioning your dog to the target stick is most easily done using a clicker. Yes the little dog from Long Beach is back for some additional training. In the beginning part of the video I’m getting the dog to touch the stick at the very end. That is the target. I usually start this training very informally. As you will notice while the dog is on its bed. Once the dog is comfortable with touching the stick inside the house we’ll move to the backyard. The backyard training is not in the video. Then we go out into public. Training in public and around distractions adds a whole new dimension to the exercise and needs to be done at a speed that is right for the individual dog. Don’t go too fast. When transitioning to public training it’s better to over train with low level distraction than go too fast.
While I don’t usually talk a lot about clicker training I have been using a clicker before it was popular. When I first started doing clicker training they were call party crickets or party clickers. You had to buy them at toy stores. I think I still have a few of those lying around somewhere. My Labrador Retriever who was in television commercials and film was trained with a clicker. That dog was trained with an all positive approach for about the first three years I had him. We would work between two to four hours a day training new and basic behaviors.
Although I don’t call myself a clicker trainer I have developed specific techniques for handling a dog while using the clicker. I am amazed that a lot of trainers who claim to be clicker training experts have not done the same. How do I know they haven’t? Well I don’t really. However, when I work with clients who have done training with one of these clicker experts and they can’t handle the clicker and the leash or the dog at the same time, I have to wonder. Usually I will ask specifically about what kind of handling was taught, assuming they just need a prompt to remember. Often all I get is “I wasn’t taught that.”
As I mentioned Baby boomers aren’t the only ones who can benefit from using a target stick. Some sensitive dogs do better when they’re at a distance from people. For these dogs the stick can be a helpful intermediate step. The target stick is just one tool to help work thorough training problems or speed up the training process. There are some trainers who really like using a target stick and they have built whole target stick training systems. This can have some benefits. I have used different types of sticks, wands, staffs, canes, scepters, and wooden swords as training tools for years. When used with positive reinforcement and/or as positive reinforcement (something the dog likes) these tools can have a positive and dramatic impact on a dog’s behavior.
Wishing you the best in dogs and in life, Andrw Ledford
So Cal Dog training
On today’s post we are visiting the park to see the horses and greet other dogs. I am continuing to building this dogs confidence with trips into the community. Often I find that a dog will get better or worse when exposed to stressful events. Fortunately this dog will get better with each exposure to the event. On this outing we’re working at a new location so this is a big adventure for a little dog.
This is the same dachshund mix from Long beach that is staying with me for a homestay dog training program. Yep, he’s the one who is a little fearful. We started this trip by visiting a new store location and then moved to the park and eventually to the equestrian center. He had a little problem with the new store, but adapted nicely after we passed the automatic doors. On the way back he was much better with the doors. When you have a very sensitive dog you always need to be extra careful when working in new locations.
You may notice that I have a slip collar on this dog. With this dog the slip collar of choke chain is not used to make a correction. It is used because it is the safest collar to use with a very fearful dog. If the dog panics and tries to slip out of the collar it will not be able to get away.
You will also notice that I use a lot of food rewards with this dog. Not only am I using food, but I’m also asking the dog to perform a behavior. An interesting thing about the behavior is that executing the behavior requires some degree of self control. I’m asking the dog to come to me. Towards the beginning of the video you’ll see what happens when the dog is under too much stress, it won’t take food.
On this outing we encountered several new dogs. Although he was a little cautious of the new dogs he remained passive and peaceful.
Seeing the horses also went okay. He wasn’t exactly thrilled to see such large animal, but he did manage to approach the corral.
We ended the outing with a walk through the shopping center. By the time we finished it was a bit after sunset and time to go home
Helping a scared dog overcome its fear with board and train dog training
In the video we are working in public places to help overcome this dog’s fearfulness. It took many weeks for my little dog friend to begin walking on a leash. Then it took more weeks to get it to accept the noise and activity of new places. It has made slow but steady progress. Being in a new active environment is a huge accomplishment to this little dachshund mix. For this dog every novel experience is a new challenge to overcome. You will see he does nicely with seeing his reflection in the glass as we walk by a store. Reflective glass is just one of the dog training distractions I find useful at retail locations.
If you watch the video you’ll pick up some valuable dog training and handling tips. On the day I did this video we were training at a strip mall with a Japanese supermarket. The dog is from Long Beach but on this day we were training in the San Gabriel Valley. The video was done in the month of August so it’s warm out. Because of the heat you’ll see me checking the ground to make sure it’s not too hot for the dog’s paws.
Taking a dog out into society at this age is considered secondary socialization. A sensitive dog such as this one will need to be on a training and maintenance program for a very long time. If the training is not continued when the dog goes home its behavior will drift back towards where it was before the training started. While it will need long term behavior management it can now go into public and walk on a leash, which it would not do before the training.
Usually I would do very calm touching for a fearful dog. However, considering this dog’s personality and behavior problem I felt it was better to do the petting, ear scratching/rub instead. The type of touching I’m doing in the video is more a taming technique.
While we were training we met some nice people and one of them invited me to a meetup for vegetarian pet owners.
Traditionally in dog training the long line has been called a lunge line. I think this is because people used lunge lines from horse training. It doesn’t matter which term you use I will use them interchangeably.
Safety is the most important considerations when using a long line. Make sure you know where the line is at all times and don’t get tangled in it. It’s very easy to fall if the line is behind you. Tripping in this scenario is quite likely if you are backing up. Such as when taking up line when the dog is coming to you.
For dog obedience training or teaching basic manners I will barrow some long line handling techniques from tracker dog training. When training with the long line I usually run the rope or line over my right hand. This is shown in the video. I refer to the right hand as the guide hand.
The dog in this video was very energetic and sometime playfully wild and crazy. Usually I will not give a command if don’t think the dog will respond. the first video doesn’t show this but the next one I post will show the dog did not respond the way I had thought it would on a few occasions. This video was from the first day I worked the dog on a long line. So it was very early in the long line training. In fact you will notice in the beginning she is afraid of the long line. The dog did much better after a few days of training.
Many of the dog’s most severe problems reappeared when I started the long line training. Some of these problems were wild running and jumping, very forceful play biting, and picking up objects from the ground and not dropping or giving them. As I mentioned the dog was doing quite well on the 6 foot training leash. The dog also did well off leash around the house.
Since I did this series of videos we have trained the same dog at central park in Huntington Beach on a weekend and she did very good. Even with the ducks, and a teenager running up to play with her.
In this video I am not using food reward. That is because I forgot her special treats. Those of you who know me might ask why I didn’t use the treats I usually have in my truck. Well this dog was on a special diet so I was using her special treats. When dog training we sometimes have limitations or requirements that determine what training techniques we use. I think it’s best to stay flexible in how you train. This dog was in for a Board and Train / in kennel training program so I had several weeks to work with her.
While I do the majority of my training in the Orange County and Long Beach area this video was taken just north of the Orange county line in the Rowland Heights and La Habra Heights area. As you can see I also serve the San Gabriel Valley. California has a lot of great places to adventure with dogs and some good place for training too.
In this video you will see some short clips of the dog displaying its typical problematic wild behavior. The snake in the video I believe is a garter snake. After training the recall from the snake this dog did much better on fallowing days, and not only from the snake but other interesting discoveries too. At one point in the video you can see me manipulating the line to keep it from getting tangled. I left that in mainly for the benefit of people I am working with. I wanted people who are training with me to see how important it is to be aware of where the line is at all times. The video is a little over 7 minutes long.
Here are a few pictures of me helping a friend with Training their dog in Long Beach at Bluff Park. In these photos I’m teaching the proper way to hold the leash. You can see in previous posts that I am trying to mainly use positive reinforcement with this dog. However, I still feel it’s important to learn how to handle the leash properly. I also think using some kind of a slip collar to prevent accidental escaping is important. Especially when working next to a busy road like Ocean Boulevard, here we are using a traditional training collar. You may notice the collar is a bit too big for this dog. A limited slip would work just as well. a limited slip collar is sometimes called a martingale collar.
Holding the leash properly will improve your leash handling and timing. If you are primarily using food in the training the leash does seem to get in the way sometimes. In the beginning you can get around this problem by ignoring the leash when the dog is focused on the food. After you gain some proficiency in leash handling you can use the leash and food lures/rewards at the same time.
These photos are from my old 101-dog-training-tips website. Moving forward, I am moving everything to this website.
Here is a video of the first time I did any training with a friend’s new pit bull rescue. We were at Dog Beach in Long Beach, California. While this dog is wearing a pinch collar I don’t like starting the training process with this type of collar. In this video I try to use the leash and collar as little as possible. I do this by keeping the leash as loose as possible.
I wasn’t planning on doing any dog training on this trip to the beach. You may have read the post on planning and dog training. If I had planned for this training session I would have been better prepared. In our daily lives we often find ourselves in a position to teach or train when an opportunity presents itself. I recommend that the novice dog owner/trainer avoid impromptu and unplanned training session until they have the skills to be successful in less than ideal conditions. These skills are a combination of training technique and theory combined with dog handling skills. Whenever engaging in an unplanned training session it’s still best to have some kind of a plan. So even though I was running very low on food rewards I still developed a plan. By having a strategy I was able to accomplish some control that can be built on later.
One plan would be to start working the dog and use the pinch collar to make corrections. I imagine this would work okay, it’s just not what I would prefer doing. Instead we let the dog run and burn off some excess energy and then we started training with what little food I did have with me. Even with a small amount of food rewards it’s still possible do some dog training without using corrections. I am not against using leash and collar correction, but I did feel it wasn’t the right thing to do with this dog.
Pitbull Running off energy at Dog beach before dog training
While working an active dog in a distracting environment is possible, it’s not ideal or necessarily easy. This is one reason for starting dog training in the dog’s home. Beginning the training in the dog’s home is especially helpful if you want to start the training process with softer techniques. After I worked at getting the dog to turn with me when it heard its name I began working on left circles. I saved a couple very small rewards to use at the end of the training session. One reward was for the last sit and one for an unforeseen event.
Over the week end I met with another dog enthusiast at one of the dog parks in Long beach. We had a nice chat about dogs and dog training. For people who live a dog centric life chatting about dogs can include just about everything one does.
If anyone reading this would like to meet up and talk dogs perhaps we can set up a day for this. I do need to mention that I spend most of my time in the Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Gabriel and Orange County areas.
Here are a few Long Beach Dog Park Picture for you to enjoy