Book Review: Doggie Language

Title: Doggie Language: A Dog Lover’s Guide To Understanding Your Best Friend by Lili Chin

This little book in physical size and shortness (about 125 pages), is packed with useful information about dog behavior and body language. The best part forms from the author’s speciality: dog illustrations. The pictures are colorful and cute, but most importantly they are accurate in detail, displaying correct postures and the resulting communication derived from them. It also includes several different dog breed illustrations, noting what differences to pay attention to like tail carriage.

I could have done without a couple of the captions (for example, “Lol” and “You dumb”), but that’s a minor point among all of the key concepts the book presents.

Would I recommend to:

Dog Owners? Yes!

Dog Professionals? Yes!

By Dan Raymer

Raymer Family Dog Training: Online Animal Training Classes

We are currently updating our website, and the way we will offer animal training classes moving forward. Some pages may temporarily be inaccessible. If you are interested in enrolling in training classes once they are launched again, you can contact us as normal. Thank you for your patience during this time.

Update March 3, 2021:

Our online dog and puppy training class is now accepting enrollments again (with one year of access). At this time we no longer have monthly memberships available, but may again in the future. Stay-tuned and subscribe to email notifications for updates. Thanks!

– Dan Raymer

Dog Christmas Gift Ideas

Here’s a list of some dog items that your friends and family (or even yourself) may find useful for dog training.

Leashes:

A 6-foot traditional length, or try a 10 or 15-foot leash if you have safe areas to allow your dog more room to roam on walks.

Harness:

The Seattle Balance harness (by Lori Stevens, a professional dog trainer) remains one of the top quality harnesses. It includes attachments on the back, and front for reduced pulling.

Clickers:

The i-click is great for indoors and handling comfortably. The box clicker may be less ergonomic to handle, but produces a louder sound, which provides utility for outdoor training depending on your distance from your dog or other ambient sounds.

Target Stick:

Target training is fun to implement and can apply to many different training scenarios. The Treat&Train box comes with a target (see below).

Treat&Train:

This is an ingenious device created by the late Dr. Sophia Yin, a veterinarian and animal trainer. Its basic function is to dispense treats either on demand with a controller, or on different pre-settings: such as set amounts of time (e.g., every 10 seconds), or on a variable rate (e.g., on average every 10 seconds). It provides many different strategies for training.

I have occasionally used the Treat&Train as a slow feeder to dispense my dog’s normal kibble meal. Rather than her eating it in a few seconds out of a bowl, she gets the food dispensed in different amounts of time, so it acts like an enrichment puzzle toy. Because of its design, this product is a bit pricey at about $100. It also needs a separate purchase of batteries.

Treats:

These are always a great choice of gift, and dogs will love them. Look for softer treats in smaller sizes or easy to break apart treats for training. In addition, there are even Advent calendars for dogs now that provide a treat a day for December 1st-25th.

Treat Pouch:

The Doggone Good treat pouch is excellent for holding treats and clickers. The magnet that closes the pouch works better than the treat bags with hinges, which rust over time.

Puzzle Toys:

Some quality enrichment toys include:

  • Kongs
  • Squirrel Dude
  • Twist-n-Treat
  • Kong Wobbler
  • Nina Ottosson puzzles
  • Tug-a-Jug
  • Buster Cube
  • Kong Satellite
  • Snuffle Mats
  • Green Interactive Feeder

By Dan Raymer

I Tried It, But It Did Not Work

Intro

There’s a common phrase in dog training: “training is simple but it isn’t easy.” When broken down into larger functions, we are rewarding behaviors with treats and toys (sounds pretty simple), but in order to correctly train solid behaviors long-term we need to have a broad knowledge of concepts including topics like biology and psychology and we need to master many fine skills (making it not so easy at all times). Because of this truth, many people are quick to try training (with appropriate reward methods) and then claim it didn’t work, and try to move onto something inefficient or even worse, something detrimental to their dog’s well-being like force/aversive training methods. Here is more information and solutions.

State of the Profession

First, worth noting is not all professional dog trainers are competent. That might sound strange, but the fact is the dog industry does not require certification to practice, there is no oversight to make sure trainers are using best practices based on science, and so it’s possible to hire someone that is uneducated or has very little or no hands-on experience with dogs. This means even hiring trainers that claim to use rewards could land you with someone who does not use rewards, or someone who incompetently trains with rewards.

Also, beware trainers who guarantee behavior results. It’s impossible to guarantee the behavior of another living creature regardless of training methods used and unethical from a professional standpoint. Furthermore, many behaviors have medical-related pathologies, meaning only a veterinarian/veterinary behaviorist can diagnose and treat them, or work in conjunction with a professional dog trainer to solve them.

For example, if a dog has aggression due to a brain tumor, adding pain by shocking a dog is not going to solve the medical problem or the aggressive behavior problem; it is very likely to make it worse as well as compromise the dog’s welfare; and ultimately this is exactly why aversive/force training methods should never be used on any dog at any time.

Good Dog Trainers

When you find a qualified and skilled positive reinforcement trainer, it will relieve you from worrying about the non-easy aspects of the process. You won’t have to worry about trying to know everything all at once, and instead can rely on the trainer for advice and making sure everything is on the right track to success.

How to Solve the Dilemma

If the training seems like it’s not working, check the following:

1. Compliance – it’s worth noting that if the advice of a qualified trainer is not followed or enough repetitions are not completed, the behavior won’t get trained, or won’t be maintained long-term.

2. Execution – this concept is so important and another one to rely on professional help. There’s many minute parts of properly completing the training process – training the steps in the appropriate order, following the right mechanical skills, knowing where and when to deliver rewards, knowing what type of reward to use, understanding when to advance to a more challenging trial or reduce the difficulty for the dog, reading the dog’s body language, and so on.

3. Identification of the problem – this is another area where a professional dog trainer and/or veterinary behaviorist can help identify the problem and triggers or causes of the behavior, and put together a training plan to follow in order to change the dog’s behavior.

As the dog training knowledge and science has grown over time, the industry now has positive reinforcement training methods and solutions that work for all types of pet dog behavior problems. There is no reason to resort to scaring or hurting dogs in order to train them. If the training process seems stalled or before issues arise, work with a competent reward-trainer to assist you with the process.

By Dan Raymer