Finding Your "Place" In Dog Training

June 28, 2018

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Diana Ahlquist

As a traveler, we know it can be challenging to develop and maintain a working relationship with your dog.

Join Fusion and their partnership with Diana of Dog On It: Dog Training and Rehabilitation, and her pup, Ruby. Quarterly, they’ll be writing how-to’s, videos and (obviously) including adorable pictures of Miss Ruby.

You want those summer abs, so you go to the gym and do a million sit ups a day, but yet you still aren't seeing results. We’ve all been there, right? The reason for this is, you need to approach your goals from many different avenues: diet, cardio, weights and overall activity level. Well, the same is true for dog training! We cannot just spot train an unwanted behavior. We need to have all the pieces to the puzzle and start working with our dogs before things become a problem.

Many of you travel with your dog, and may be wondering how that’s possible or have experienced some tough times doing so. With travel or any life situation, like taking your dog to the coffee shop with you, we need to put the work in prior to taking them into a situation that is new or tough for them because of excitement or nervousness. We have to set our dogs up for success and teach them the way before throwing them into a situation we know may be tough. In doing so, this makes a happier and healthier dog, bringing peace and happiness to your home.

A great first step in working with your dog is something I call Place. This helps your dog figure out how to turn off the unwanted behavior. Yes, dogs have an off switch! Now you may be thinking, “Well my dog will lay down a lot and be good.” Okay, fair enough, but what about when you tell them to? What about when someone comes to the door? Or when you want them to be calm in a car? I imagine some of you are thinking, “Oh yeah, that doesn't happen ever. They are crazy when things like that happen.”

Let me welcome you to Place! Place is an actual space with set boundaries. I use a pet cot, because they are comfortable and your dog has to step off of it to leave it. It makes learning easier for them and for you. So, picture yourself at a yoga retreat; breathing, centered, focused on nothing around you while on your mat. Well, that’s a great way to look at Place for our dogs! I know when I first started yoga, it was tough for me to block out everything around me and just focus on calm. With practice, it became easier. Place is going to be the same concept for our dogs. We start with the basics and work our way up. When your dog is able to find their happy, centered and focused Place, they’ll be able to turn off behavior no matter what is going on around them. This is going to help them in situations, like traveling.

Whether you are traveling by plane or car, there are so many distractions which can cause excitement and/or nervousness. If we haven’t worked with our dogs to help them in times of distress, there is no way they will be able to handle these situations.

The first step is to get what you will use for place! This is the pet cot I use. Keep in mind that this trampoline-looking thing you are bringing into their world means nothing to them right now. Just like “sit” at one point meant nothing to them. It is up to us to make it mean something. Good thing I’m here to help you get started with that! :)

1. Make sure you have your dog on a leash.

2. Have some food handy. Food is a good training tool to use when we are introducing new things to our dogs.

3. Have your dog next to you. Hand placement on leash, so they are not able to get distance from you.

4. Walk up to the Place bed and say, “(Your dog’s name), PLACE.” As you are saying this, put a little pressure on the leash to encourage them to walk to their Place. Once all four paws are on Place, say “YES” and then feed them.

Okay, okay I know. What if your dog won’t get on that thing? What do you do now?

If your dog is reluctant to get on the Place, help them. Bend down and tap on it. Use food to lure them, and if they are really fighting it, flip it over and get them to get on it that way first.

Once you have them getting on Place in correct position, you will then work with them to stay on it even if you are not right next to them. Create distance with the leash in your hand and if they break, say no and guide them back on, yes once back on. Keep increasing distance and distractions.

This is a big piece of the dog behavior puzzle. We need to help them figure out calm and work with our dogs on a daily basis to get them to on track. The trick to the game is a calm, clear and consistent leader… That’s you!

Dog On It is here to help you with your training needs during travel. I have a lot of videos and tips on my Facebook page, and I’m always available as your one-on-one trainer. I hope Ruby and I can help you and your 4-legged friend have the most healthy relationship possible.

 

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For more information about Diana, Ruby, and Dog On It: Training and Rehabilitation, visit the website below or head over to their Facebook page and say hi (or say woof... you know, if you're a dog and reading this.) 
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