Training 911

posted December 11th, 2015 by
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by Khara Criswell, MA, CPDT-KSA, CNWI

 

Holiday Training Tips To Keep Your Home Jolly And Safe

 

Fresh Water

If your dog is spending some time outdoors, check the water dish. Just because the temperature has dropped, it doesn’t mean your dog is drinking less water. If the temperature drops below 32 degrees, make sure you have chipped away the ice so your pup has a place to drink. Dogs eating snow could pick up dangerous objects or chemicals that may be hidden. Some dogs that eat snow can get an upset stomach and even hypothermia.

 

Warm Place to Stay

Dogs have fur coats, but even in extreme temperature changes a dog can get frost bite. If your pup lives outdoors, provide the pup a heated dog bed and adequate shelter. If you have a small dog or a dog with little or no hair, a sweater will help the dog retain its body heat. If you see your dog lifting its paw more than normal, check the paw. Some dogs’ paws are more sensitive to cold than others.

 

Kong Stuffed with Goodies

During the holidays, we might be too busy to pay as much attention as usual to our pets, so they need some other forms of mental stimulation. Stuffing and freezing a Kong makes for an excellent treat while company is over or during any hectic time. The dog is occupied while you can enjoy your guests or holiday prepping.

 

A Break or Retreat Zone

During the holiday season, your pup can get too much socialization or over-stimulation. Company can be tiring, so make sure your pup has a place to go to decompress away from the action. Start designating an area as the “dog safe zone,” so the pooch can get away, and maybe you too when you need to decompress. Sometimes the break could just be a walk with a familiar friend. One of the best things to train a dog to do is to go to a place/mat.

 

How to Mat Train:

Step 1. With a treat in your hand tell your dog, “go to your mat,” in a cheerful tone of voice and point to her mat.

Step 2. Pause a second or two (one-one thousand, two-one thousand), then lure your dog onto her mat by putting the treat up to her nose and slowly moving it over the mat. If you move your hand too quickly or too far away from her, she may give up and lose interest.

Step 3. As soon as your dog has four paws on the mat, give the treat.

Step 4. Tell your dog, “down/sit.” Give the hand signal or lure her if she needs helps. It is up to you whether you want to make her lie down or sit. If she doesn’t stay on the mat, you can take her to it. When she lies down, give the treat to her. Continue to give treats to keep her on the mat. After a few seconds, tell her “OK/free” and allow her to get up.

Repeat steps 1-4, gradually increasing the amount of time you ask her to stay on the mat. Mat training is great for working at your desk, watching TV, cooking in the kitchen, when guests are visiting (like during the holidays), or any time you need to get your dog out from under foot.

 

Practice

Practice this skill when you can pay attention—such as when you are answering easy emails, not when concentrating on a report due tomorrow, or when preparing a sandwich, not trying a gourmet recipe for the first time. TV commercials are a better practice time than engrossing movies.

As you increase the time the dog spends on her mat, throw in some shorter intervals to keep her motivated. As your dog gets better and better, space out the treats so she gets some for staying on her mat.  Eventually she will stay for no treats at all, but to keep the stay strong, give a verbal praise such as “thank you” or “you’re such a good dog.”

Troubleshooting: If your dog gets up before you release her, tell her “ah-ha” and immediately direct her back to her mat and into a down/sit. Don’t treat her, but make the duration of this down/sit short, so you can release her and repeat the exercise right away and reward for a successful result.

 

Beware of the Dangers

With the cold holiday weather and additional edible delicacies, keep these dangers in mind:

Antifreeze is highly toxic; although it tastes good to pets, it can kill them.

Human foods to keep away from Fido include grapes, raisins, avocados, onions, chocolate, anything coffee-related, macadamia nuts, tomatoes, and seeds from apples, cherries, peaches and similar fruit, and of course bones, which can break apart in the intestines.

Household items such as cleaners, rat and mouse poisons.

Christmas décor can be hazardous, including Christmas berries, Christmas cactus, sap, candles

Christmas Rose, the tree and all its parts (needles, tree water, holly, and mistletoe, tinsel, ornaments and lights). If you have a puppy, start the decorations on the tree higher from the ground than he or she can reach.

 

Call your vet or Animal Poison Control if you feel your pet ingested a toxin at (888) 426-4435. A $65 consultation fee may be applied to your credit card.

Keep these tips in mind to ensure a safe holiday and remember you’re never too young or old to have fun with your pup

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