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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tuesday's Training TIP: TRAINER, EDUCATE THYSELF

FLD Gus is nearing doggy-puberty, that wonderful time when he is likely to develop selective hearing and forget what-seems-like-everything (from commands like HEEL to potty-training)!

To ready myself for this potential onslaught, I perused the suggested reading list in my Leader Dogs for the Blind puppy-raiser manual.

AH-HA!  

Surviving Your Dog's Adolescence: A Positive Training Program, a book by Carol Lea Benjamin.  Just what I needed.  (Watch for my BOOK REVIEW, coming soon!)


HINTS TO BECOME A BETTER TRAINER
(Or simply a more-informed and responsible dog owner.)


READ
  • Read as much as you can about dog breeds and behavior, in books, magazines, and websites.
  • Read as much as you can about dog training techniques, in books, magazines, and websites.
(For a start, check out my RESOURCES page.)


OBSERVE
  • Go to a dog park and observe the interaction of the dogs.  And the relationships between the dogs and their people!  (If you are raising a puppy for Leader Dogs, do NOT bring your puppy to a dog park.)

  • If you have more than one dog, spend time watching them interact; if you don't, take your dog on a doggy-play-date with another dog.  Pay attention to their body language during play, particularly if the play gets a little rough.  You can learn a lot by seeing what canines do naturally to sort things out.


GET INVOLVED 
  • Enroll you and your dog in a local obedience class.  Even if you've taken a class before, take a different one.  You are sure to learn at least one new technique or bit of information that is helpful.
  • Prepare your dog to pass the AKC (American Kennel Club) "Canine Good Citizen" test.  (For information, check out the AKC website:  www.akc.org/events/cgc.)
  • Explore the Therapy Dogs International website (www.tdi-dog.org) to learn more about rewarding "work" you can do with your dog.
  • Learn a sport with your pet dog, like agility or fly ball.  These activities provide mental and physical exercise for your dog, and you will pick up valuable training techniques.




IDEAS FOR Leader Dogs for the Blind PUPPY-RAISERS
  • Review your puppy manual.  (Did you know that the manual is now on-line?)
  • Attend your monthly meeting/outing with your puppy-counselor (and bring questions).
  • Try outings with other puppy-counselors' groups.
  • Talk to veteran puppy-raisers about their experiences.


If you are not sure how to find resources to help you learn more about your dog and training techniques, ask your Veterinarian for suggestions.  Call your local animal shelter, groomer, pet store, or boarding or training facility for recommendations.  Or, just GOOGLE it!

Take the time to educate yourself about canines and their behavior--and enjoy a more satisfying relationship with your dog!

4 comments:

  1. I plan to read and learn a lot more soon, so this was a perfect post for me. I'm wondering is there one book that you could recommend that would be worth getting more than others? I mean, do you have a favourite book you would always refer to?
    Its difficult to get reading material in braille or audio, but I could request books to be transcribed. This can be a long and expensive process (depending on where it is done) so I wouldn't want to randomly choose a book without some expert advice first.

    And your right, we can learn so much by just observing how our own dogs interact with each other. Fascinating stuff!

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  2. Hi Jen! Glad you liked this post. You pose a great question--what one book would I recommend? My first reaction was to tell you to get Bruce Fogle's "The new Encyclopedia of the Dog." It is a breed information book. I believe that every trainer should have a breed book to refer back to--I do!

    But, on second thought, this big coffee-table sized book is loaded with beautiful pictures, which isn't going to help you as much. You could get similar information on-line from organizations such as the AKC (American Kennel Club) or the UKC (United Kennel Club). Another great website for ALL dogbreeds is www.dogbreedinfo.com.

    It is harder for me to recommend ONE dog "training" book. Again, you can get loads of training information on-line. I think it might be more important to learn as much about dog BEHAVIOR as you can. Understanding, from a scientific point of view, how canines function within the world and with humans gives you the background to evaluate different training techniques or "philosophies."

    A good place to start is with Bruce Fogle's book, "The Dog's Mind: Understanding Your Dog's Behavior." Fogle is a Veterinarian in London and his website is helpful: www.brucefogle.com.

    I was also inspired recently by Alexandra Horowitz, PhD's book "Inside of a Dog, What Dogs See, Smell, and Know." I wrote a review of this book and it is available in an audio version. She believes in and learns through observation!

    This is a link to Columbia University's "Canine Cognition" website (featuring Horowitz): http://www.columbia.edu/~ah2240/. This website: http://crl.ucsd.edu/~ahorowit/ is all about Horowitz with links to her book and research.

    I hope this helps, Jen! Keep in touch.

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  3. Great. Thanks so much for those. I have a lot of reading to do. I also have lots of work related stuff to get done this week, and am just looking for an excuse or a distraction.
    Hopefully I can get this work done, then start my doggy reading!

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