Monday, January 26, 2015

How to Survive Cabin Fever with the Dog - Part 2

How to Survive Cabin Fever with the Dog - Part 2

There are many activities you can do with the dog indoors during the winter months. Indoor winter activities offer you a chance to get back to basics.  To reinforce good behaviour, so you're ready for outdoor activities when the weather is more favourable. No matter how well-behaved and responsive your dog is to your commands, here are a few activities that will help ensure that he continues to respond favourably to your commands.

The activities in this blog are presented in increasing level of difficulty. Be sure to master the first two exercises before attempting the third. Once you've mastered the third, you're ready to take the activity outside on a warmer day! 

Call / Recall

Purpose: To build strong recall in your dog

What you need:
  • Treat

How to play:
  1. Stand approximately 2-feet away from your dog with a treat behind your back
  2. Give the recall cue (for example, your dog's name or "come")
  3. Take a step back and offer the treat

Increase the difficulty by:
  • increasing the distance between you and the dog before providing the recall command
  • taking multiple steps back prior to offering the reward
  • whispering the recall cue from a distance

Collar Grab

Purpose: To ensure your dog moves towards you when his collar is grabbed

What you need:
  • Treat
  • Non-retractable leash

How to play:
  1. Put the leash on your dog
    Step 2 of Collar Grab
  2. Hold a treat and leash in one hand
  3. Slide the other hand down the leash
  4. Grab your dog's collar with the sliding hand and provide the reward with the treat hand - watch the video

If your dog is not used to having his collar grabbed, he may back away from you at first. Don't despair. Practice the exercise until he moves towards you when you grab his collar.

Call / Recall

Purpose: To make your dog come faster

What you need:
  • A partner
  • Treat (both people should be armed with treats)

How to play:
  1. Person-1 holds the dog by the collar
  2. Person-2 moves about 10-feet away and says the recall command
  3. Person-1 lets the dog go and Person-2 moves away from the dog (the dog will pursue Person-2)
  4. When the dog catches up to Person-2, Person-2 provides a reward at knee level

Repeat the exercise with Person-2 holding on the collar and Person-1 providing the recall command.

Increase difficulty by:
  • increasing the distance between people before providing the recall command
  • increasing the speed at which Person-2 (the "treater") moves away from the dog

Once your dog has mastered this activity, hide before you give the recall command. Start with easy places like hiding behind a big piece of furniture within the same room or on the other side of the kitchen island. Increase the difficulty by hiding in a closet or a bathtub. Reward the dog when he finds you with treats, a big cuddle, or even running around the house screaming. They love that excitement.

If you need some help with these games, your recall in general or any other doggie issues, we have a winter special on.  Two one hour private sessions at your home for $104.00, that's a 20% discount.  This offer will be valid on first appointments booked before April 1, 2015.  There will be a charge for locations outside of the Kemptville/Winchester corridor.

Did you find some great places to hide? Share your favourite hiding spot in the comments below!

In part 3 of our "How to Survive Cabin Fever with the Dog" series, we will look at shaping. It will give you the tools to teach your dog all sorts of tricks. It's the same method for training dolphins at Sea World

Sunday, January 11, 2015

How to Survive Cabin Fever with the Dog - Part 1

Bored and waiting for me to amuse them
The holidays are over but winter is here for another couple of months. While there is nothing prettier than a sunny winter day, it can be downright cold. Most of us prefer to stay indoors and hibernate. The same can be said for some dogs, especially the small or short coated ones. But being cooped up inside staring at each other isn't an option. This is the first of a three-part series that explores activities to do with your dog during the coldest months of the year.

Fitness is an integral part to a balanced lifestyle for dogs. Much like our own fitness goals, we are looking to give our dogs:
            * a strong core,
            * agility, and
            * confidence in how they use their body.

Strength and stretching training can help prevent injury from sudden movements like when a squirrel crosses your path and keep your dog acting young well into old age. Give these simple exercises a try.

Balancing Act

Purpose: To build core strength and body awareness to handle changing and unstable environments.

What you need:

* Board
* Foreign objects to stick under the board

How to play:

(1) Begin by teaching your dog to get on a board.
(2) Once your dog has mastered getting on the board, put a small stick or towel under the board to make the board wobbly. Get your dog to get on the board.
(3) Have the dog move around on the board.  Every time you reward, reward on a different corner the dog will move to get the reward.
(3) Increase the challenge by sticking other foreign objects under the board to make it more unstable.

Check out our video on YouTube to help you better understand the steps.
Step 1

Core Strength

Purpose: To build core strength.  A strong core supports the spine and vital organs.   Best of all it’s a really cute trick.

Step 2
Goal: To have the dog stand on his bum (beg or sit pretty)

How to play:

(1) Begin by sitting in a chair with your dog sitting between your legs looking away from you
(2) Put a piece of food just above his nose and closer to his forehead
Step 3
(3) Reward any front paw movement, your are tying to get your dog’s front paws off the floor
(4) As the front paws come up off the ground, you can support your dog with your legs.  Slightly squeeze your legs helping the dog support his body.  As your dog gets stronger you can diminish the support until he can do this independently.
Step 4

Learn More

Shake-a-Paw will be holding a Canine Conditioning:  Intro To Fitpaws® course starting Sunday, February 1 at 11:30am. Join us and get your dog fitter and healthier than ever before!

Final Product
What do you do with your dog to remain active in the winter months? Comment below!

In part 2 of our "How to Survive Cabin Fever with the Dog" series, we will look at an indoor game to make your recall stronger and faster.