A State of Mind

By Sally Bushwaller, CDPT-KSA, CNWI

Separation anxiety has many “roots”. One of those roots is your dog’s inability to make rational decisions.

All separation anxiety dogs I work with are started on what I call the SPONTANEOUS BEHAVIOR PROTOCOL. This concept evolved as I worked with 100s of dogs over the years. Along the way I absorbed info from brilliant trainers, seminars and from books and videos I watched. It really started to formulate in my brain after watching video of zoo trainers doing clicker training with dangerous animals at the first The Art and Science of Animal Training Seminar hosted by ORCA at the University of North Texas – empower the animal to learn to make decisions on his own, without compulsion or commands.

The coalescence of these ideas rolling around in my head became the SPONTANEOUS BEHAVIOR PROTOCOL (wish I had decided to call it something shorter and catchier!). I then discovered that there were many other trainers around the country doing versions of this same thing. Continue reading

Good Behavior Spontaneously!

Wouldn’t it be great if your dog naturally offered you good behaviors all the time? Just think about life with a dog that you didn’t have to nag to get them to sit, down or watch you. Is that an elusive dream? NO! It’s allpossible and quite easy to achieve.

To start this process, you can do a couple of things. The first way is to capture the behavior when it occurs. This basically means catch your dog in the act of doing something good, tell him something (like the word “yes” or clicking) so he knows he did it right and reinforce him (give him a treat). I prefer to use this technique whenever possible. An example – wait for your dog to sit on his own, say yes, then give him a treat. Continue reading

Engaging Your Dog

As a professional dog trainer teaching anywhere from 7-10 classes a week, and working with countless behavior issues, by far the most common issue I see is lack of attention to the owner. The dogs learn that they can get more reinforcement from the environment than they can from their people, and that’s where all the trouble starts.

When the dog gets more pleasure from engaging with the environment than the person, I know the relationship is damaged. The damage is almost always NOT a result of harsh punishment, but usually a result of old fashioned thinking, “I must be in charge all the time and dominate my dog.” This simply isn’t the case and in fact, the opposite is true. Continue reading

Marking Good Behavior (the secret of dog training)

Dogs in general are easy to explain— “How can I get what I want now!” Now it’s not that they are sitting around your house, twiddling their paws, planning ways to thwart you. But they do experiment with behavior—barking, jumping, chewing, nipping, playing keep away, etc., all to get your attention. It works and you pay attention to them. They’ve got you perfectly trained.

Even if you tell them no, glare at them, or push them away, that’s attention and reinforces the bad behavior.

You can reverse that trend by paying more attention to them when they are being good. Don’t ever take good behavior for granted, especially calm sits and downs. If you don’t pay attention to them when they are being good, what do you think they’re going to do????? Be bad of course, because you’ll absolutely pay attention to them then. Continue reading

Mental and Physical Winter Exercise for Your Weim

Winter is tough on our weims. Not because they don’t want to be outside, but because we don’t much of the time! So you have to get creative about how you are going to stimulate them mentally and physically so they don’t go stir crazy.

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you have to give up your training. If you’re made of tougher stuff than I, you can continue with your hunting training. I’m sure our active hunting members would be happy to help you with that. Continue reading