Tips

All Articles by David Kabler originally published in Critter Magazine

Teaching the Come Request… New Ways of Learning

When new clients call me to train their best friend, the COME request is usually a top priority on their training list. As dog owners, one of our biggest desires is that our dog will come when called every time. Our best friends live in a world of distractions that are constantly competing with us for our dogs attention. Many dogs feel frustrated that they cannot chase the squirrels, or the kitties, or the other dogs that they see on their daily walks. These ‘competing motivations’ are constantly vying for our dogs attention and when we call our dogs back to us it is easy for our canines to ignore our pleading for them to drop the fun and return to our side. In this article I would like to explore techniques that we can use to help our furry friends learn this most vital request.

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David working with Ruby and her Guardian on a motivational recall request.

Many dog owners will use the come request only when it is needed. Then when their dog returns to them it is back on the leash, or back in the house, or back in the crate. It is vital that the come request be used often and that most of the time your dog is allowed to return to that exciting scent or whatever fun it was that they were having before being called.

In other words call your dog to you frequently and then immediately encourage them to return to the activity they were doing before being called. You should only put your dog back on their leash and end their fun in one out of ten recalls.

ALWAYS give your dog plenty of praise and a treat reward for coming when called. This is the one command that I will always give a treat for. Plenty of praise should also be showered on your best friend for returning to your side. This will let them know that there is a reward in it for them when they heed your call.

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Lobo expressing his natural drive during a motivational come request exercise.

Dogs feel plenty of frustration in their daily lives… they want to chase that rabbit scent or follow that deer trail. Dogs often will learn to be outwardly focused on the world around them and will hone in on that rather than on us. Luckily, it is easy to create a strong desire in your dog to also want to run towards you. Follow this simple exercise to help build a strong foundation for a successful COME request.

1. Go to a safe place like a fenced in park or field and attach your best friend to a long line (a 30-35 foot long leash).

2. Have a friend or other household member hold your dog close to them.

3. Show your dog that you have a handful of treats by placing them on your furry friends nose.

4. Immediately run away a short distance and turn, and excitedly but loudly and clearly say your dogs name, and the COME request. “Daisy, COME!”

5. Have your friend drop the leash as your dog shows excitement and starts to pull towards you. Make sure that your helper does not get their feet inadvertently tangled in the leash, which can cause an accidental correction.

6. Your dog will run to you and as soon as they get to you shower them with treats and praise. Immediately pick up the leash so they can’t run off again. Repeat this 5 to 7 times in a row once or twice a day.

7. Build up from a short distance to bigger distances over several weeks. It is important not to get too far away too quickly.

Use this tip and you will successfully create a desire in your dog to want to be with you and at your side as much as they want to smell the roses!

David Kabler has been training dogs since he was a boy and has been a Certified Master Trainer since 1995. David is available for lessons in Asheville, NC and surrounding areas. Call today to schedule you and your dogs consultation. David will evaluate your dogs personality and training needs and, it’s absolutely free. (828) 337-5792

Forging a Better Relationship with Your Best Friend

In todays busy world it is easy to get caught up in your life and forget to spend quality time with your best friend. There are many daily activities that will help to forge a better relationship with your canine companion. In this article we will explore several ways that you and your best friend can enhance your natural bond.

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Belgian Malinois Barry Kabler, PH1,CGC clears a 5 foot fence. A well trained canine companion add so much to our experience.

Walking, hiking, and running with your best friend are the most obvious ways that you can spend more quality time with your dog. A daily walk or run around the neighborhood can be spiced up with special trips to new and exciting places. There are so many beautiful destinations for you and your best friend here in Asheville. Be sure to check the rules of the places that you plan on visiting so that you are best prepared for your excursion. For dogs that are not off leash trained I like to use a 20-25 foot long leash to give a better sense of freedom. For trips into the back country consider teaching your dog to carry a weight appropriate doggie backpack and be sure to carry a canine first aid kit.

If you have a highly active dog, agility training may be just the outlet that will allow your best friend to get all of that extra energy out. Agility training will teach your dog to focus on the course and to your commands. This allows your dog to use both their mind and body at the same time which can tire out even the most energetic canine. It is incredibly fun and exciting to train your dog to weave and climb through one of these amazing courses.

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David out cruising with his Husky mix Daisy.

Bike riding with your best buddy can also be a safe and fun activity for you and your dog. So that your dog does not accidentally pull you over it is essential to use a canine bike riding device like The Springer. The Springer has a large coiled spring that allows your dog to pull with out pulling over you and your bike. Be sure to spend most of your time with your dog trotting and not at a full run. Be careful in the heat of the Summer as asphalt can become very hot and can burn your dogs pads. Teach your dog to use The Springer by walking your bike at first and once you start riding you can build up your dogs endurance slowly over several weeks.

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Rose and her guardian playing some fetch.

Swimming with your best friend will get both of you out of town and out to some beautiful spots here in Western North Carolina. Most dogs will naturally learn to swim on their own but if your dog shows hesitation you can teach them to swim. Start in shallow water and over several trips build up your dogs confidence to venture into deeper water. I like to cross small shallow streams and encourage my dog to cross with me. Avoid fast moving water and don’t progress too quickly. Elder dogs who already know how to swim can also be good teachers for your dog. You can support your dog with one arm under their belly and use the other arm above and across their front paws to make sure that they don’t bring them up out of the water when learning to swim. Be sure to keep each experience positive and fun until your dog is swimming like a champ.

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Happy guardians out practicing Buck and Sophia’s walk in their off leash obedience course.

Obedience training will give you and your best friend the communication skills that will allow you both to have the freedom to go almost anywhere. Obedience training provides your dog with mental stimulation and teaches them to look towards you for leadership and guidance. Dogs who feel that they are part of a pack with a strong leader  suffer from less anxiety and are more confident out in the world. Teaching your best friend to respond to the five basic commands of Heel, Sit, Down, Stay and Come no matter where you are or what is going on around you will allow you and your best friend to conquer the world together.

Have fun out there this Summer and happy training!

David Kabler has been training dogs since he was a boy and has been a Certified Master Trainer since 1995. David is available for lessons in Asheville, NC and surrounding areas. Call today to schedule you and your dogs consultation. David will evaluate your dogs personality and training needs and, it’s absolutely free. (828) 337-5792

The Art of Crate Training Properly

There are many reasons to use a crate to help raise your best friend. Todays modern dogs are descended from wolves and wild canids, a creature that lives in a den. The den experience provides our dogs wild relatives with safety from the elements. It gives the young puppies a place to stay while the older wolves go hunt and forage for food. Today, we use a crate to replicate the den experience for our domesticated canines.

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Daisy enjoys her crate time and thinks of this place as her den.

Replicating this ancient instinct for our dog provides a safe place for them to stay when we are away from home. Properly using a crate for your dog can help prevent problem behaviors from occurring.  If you ever have the need to fly your dog with you on a trip, then using a crate in their daily lives will keep them prepared, should they ever need to travel with you on a plane.

The crate can also be a tool for helping to relieve separation anxiety in our canine companions. When a dog looks at their crate as a safe warm place to be this provides them with a sense of security and safety. This alleviates anxiety in general and can be a tool to help our anxious companions.

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Teaching Charlie to love his crate using treat rewards.

For the crate experience to be a good one it is important that it be introduced positively. The crate is never to be used as a punishment and doing so can ruin your dogs crate training experience. Follow my simple steps and your dog will be positively crate trained in no time. The following steps can be condensed into a weekend for younger dogs who have never had a bad experience with crate training, but may take longer to re-socialize an insecure dog to their crate.

1) Make sure that the crate you choose is size appropriate for your dog. Older dogs who are house trained can have a larger crate, but if you are using your crate for house training it is important to follow the “bed size… not bedroom size” rule. I personally recommend the airline style plastic crates, I like the sense of security my dog gets from the enclosure, but the wire crates work just as good. Either style will work.

2) Take your time getting your best friend used to the crate. Toss a treat inside the crate and encourage your dog to enter inside. I like to use the request “In Your House” as I do this. Immediately praise reward and encourage your dog to come back out. Repeat this 5-7 times in a row every 20-30 minutes until your dog is going in and out comfortably then move on to step 3.

3) Now begin to close the door of the crate behind your dog after they enter and say “In Your House”. Still toss a treat inside and now give an additional treat through the crate door. Immediately let them out and give plenty of praise for a job well done. Repeat this 5-7 times in a row every 20-30 minutes until your dog is going in and taking the treat at the door easily then move on to step 4 .

4) Once your dog is excited about entering the crate and accepts the door being shut behind them happily, it is time to start this next step. The idea is to begin extending your dogs time in the crate. Have your dog wait inside the crate and give a rewards through the door in “Rapid Fire”. To do this give a reward every 3-5 seconds at first. Build up to doing this for 1-2 minutes and begin step five.

5) Begin changing the time in between treats to a variable timed reward. Sometimes treats come in a quick succession, others there is a 10- 40 second gap between treats. Build your dogs time in the crate from several minutes up to 45 minutes or more using this technique.

6) Start walking out of the room and eventually the house by leaving and quickly returning and rewarding your dog several times in a row. Build your dogs time in between rewards and stay gone for longer chunks of time.

7) As your pup gets more comfortable with the crate experience begin pushing the time in the crate to several hours and overnight. At this point, phase out the treats but I recommend giving your dog a stuffed Kong toy or other special treat before you leave home. Limit your dogs time spent in their crate to a reasonable amount (generally a max of 6-8 hours). If left for longer periods a fenced outdoor dog run or dog walking service should be used.

Follow these steps and you will have a dog that loves and enjoys their crate, providing them a sense of security for life.

Happy training!

David Kabler has been training dogs since he was a boy and has been a Certified Master Trainer since 1995. You can find out more about his unique training style by liking his Kabler School For Dogs facebook page. David is available for lessons in Asheville, NC and surrounding areas. Call today to schedule you and your dogs consultation. David will evaluate your dogs personality and training needs and, it’s absolutely free. (828) 337-5792

Solving Canine Separation Anxiety

As a trainer I am frequently asked to help dog owners when their best friend starts to exhibit destructive behavior while left alone. Dogs are naturally a very social pack animal that thrive in an environment with continuous physical interaction. This is an ancient canine instinct, banding together in a pack, that for thousands of years before domestication insured their survival. Many canines suffer from anxiety and nervousness when separated from their human pack.

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Destructive behavior is a sure sign of anxiety and stress.

A dog that suffers from pack separation anxiety cannot be isolated from their owners at any time without displaying distress. Symptoms of this anxiety include chronic barking & whining, destructive behavior, nervousness, soiling in the house, self destructive chewing, and pacing. If your dog exhibits one or more of these behaviors there are steps that you can take to lessen your dogs anxiety levels and effectively decrease symptoms. The way I train is to provide your dog with as many tools as we can to help to ease their anxiety in general. Although no two dogs are exactly alike, my basic approach to training a dog with separation anxiety is as follows:

Make your coming and going as boring and routine as possible. Get your dog used to you leaving and arriving by going through the motions and pretending to leave. That’s right; brush your teeth, grab your keys, put your dog in their safe place and pretend to leave. Give your dog a treat before you walk outside and when you return. At first just walk out and then come right back. Over several days build up to where you actually drive around the block or make a quick run to the store. An excellent choice for a treat is a frozen stuffed Kong Toy. This will provide them with an hour or more of licking and chewing that also will help alleviate the anxiety and stress of being left alone. Use a radio as a safety or calming cue by turning it on, each time, right before you leave. This will provide your dog with a cue that you will be returning and provide a backdrop of sound that can help relax and soothe your canine friend. Over time you will be able to leave your dog for longer and longer periods of time.

If your dog is destructive while you are away you should consider using a crate as your dogs safe place. In the wild, dogs are den animals. A crate mimics the den experience in their mind providing a sense of security. A pack that has a nice warm den is strong and giving your dog this assurance will help reduce anxiety as well. Never use the crate as a punishment and limit your dogs time spent in it to a reasonable amount (generally a max of 6-8 hours). If left for longer periods a fenced outdoor dog run or dog walking service should be used.

Obedience training reinforces the idea of being part of a strong pack in your dogs mind. Teaching the requests Sit, Down, Stay, Heel, and Come provide your best friend with mental stimulation and consistency in what to expect from you and you of him/her. Your dogs obedience training should be fun and positive. If your dog gets excited when they see their training collar you know that your best friend enjoys it!

Proper exercise is important for your canines mental and physical health and can help decrease symptoms of separation anxiety. Walks, runs, trips to the dog park, and games of fetch all provide for great mental stimulation and exercise. A tired dog is more likely to sleep while you are away. A good doggy daycare or dog walking service should be used to help alleviate boredom and stress if you are unable to give your dog enough exercise.

Discuss your dogs separation anxiety with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will have useful advice and will refer you to a skilled trainer and behaviorist. In extreme cases they may prescribe medications that can help to calm your dog when left alone.

David Kabler has been training dogs since he was a boy and has been a Certified Master Trainer since 1995. You can find out more about his unique training style by liking his Kabler School For Dogs facebook page. David is available for lessons in Asheville, NC and surrounding areas. Call today to schedule you and your dogs consultation. David will evaluate your dogs personality and training needs and, it’s absolutely free. (828) 337-5792

On Manners.

Manners are important for our best friends to learn. A dog with good manners is welcome more places and has a happier and healthier life. Dogs are incredible companions and best friends because they have an extraordinary ability to adapt. Many canine genetic behaviors like jumping, begging, guarding, and pulling can be changed through proper training.

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Out for an evening loose leash walk– so fun!

There is a genetic reason that puppies and dogs like to jump to greet owners and guests. In the wild, when older canines return from the hunt with stomachs full of meat, the puppies jump and lick their elders chops causing a gag reflex and regurgitation for the young hungry pups. This genetic survival instinct is still with our modern canine companions of today and is the reason why dogs like to jump and lick to greet us. This behavioral disposition can be overcome with proper training. Teach your dog to sit upon greeting you and reinforce this behavior with treats and praise. Teach your dog to ‘Hup’ for a treat and also to ‘Off’ on request using two treat rewards. Work with a trainer to establish a meaningful positive correction if additional reinforcement is needed.

Table scraps consisting of meat, vegetables, and fruit can provide healthy variety in your best friends diet (as long as your dog is a healthy weight, consult your veterinarian). Begging from the table can seem cute at first but can become a problem as the pup gets older and more demanding. The easiest approach is to never allow the begging behavior to become established by never feeding from the table. Table scraps can be fed, but after the meal and in your dog’s own bowl only.

Teaching your four legged companion not to bolt through your front door or out of your car without permission can save their life. Leash your best friend and practice teaching them to wait inside while you pass through the door first. You can use the voice command ‘Wait’ and provide a treat reward. Give them a few moments inside the door and give your dog the command ‘Free’ as the release command that let’s them know it is safe to cross the threshold.

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Mother/daughter training together, preparing their dogs Arabella and Triton for a family move to Japan.

Training your dog to walk politely on a loose leash without pulling can make activities with your best friend more enjoyable for you and them. Use a treat to encourage your dog to stick with you. Place the treat on your dogs nose and turn, walking in the other direction as you say the command ‘With Me’. When your dog turns with you give them the treat. Repeat this exercise for a few minutes each day and your dog will begin to get the idea. If your best friend is an extremely motivated puller you may need to seek professional training for your dog.

A dog that guards or refuses to give up toys and treats can be trained to politely let them go on command. Dogs can even learn to let go on command even while playing the game of tug. To teach this I use the two toy method. If they have a toy that they are chewing you can show them a second toy of the same kind and say the voice command ‘Drop It’. Your dog will let go of the first toy and come get the second toy. Quickly scoop up the first toy after your dog grabs toy two. You can also use this technique for dogs that like to play tug. With practice your best friend will begin to drop their toy on command.

Some dogs are more motivated than others to exhibit bad manners. A professional training program may be necessary to properly train these higher energy dogs. Spending time training and teaching your best friend good manners is an investment in you and your dogs relationship that is priceless.

David Kabler has been training dogs since he was a boy and has been a Certified Master Trainer since 1995. David is available for lessons in Asheville, NC and surrounding areas. Call today to schedule you and your dogs consultation. David will evaluate your dogs personality and training needs and, it’s absolutely free. (828) 337-5792

Canine Aggression

Dogs communicate through body language and vocalization. As a pack animal they are very adaptable to different group dynamics and environments. The domesticated canine has been bred over centuries to retain juvenile or puppy like traits for their whole life, but even so, problems with aggression are still common place. There are many different types of aggression and causes of aggression. Understanding why a dog is showing aggression determines my training approach when solving these problems.

Different Types Of Aggression

• Dog to dog aggression. This is the most common type of dog aggression. Clients whose best friends exhibit signs of aggression towards other dogs will often begin to avoid places with other dogs. Proper socialization to other dogs as a puppy is the easiest way to solve this problem. There are steps you can take to socialize and train the adult dog aggressive dog as well. Begin by teaching your dog to pay attention to you by making eye contact, and to always walk on a loose leash. In many cases owners transmit their own anxiety to their best friend about another approaching dog via a tight leash and physical touch. This becomes an ingrained habit and can worsen the problem.

• Food or toy possessiveness. Without proper training, many dogs will begin to guard their food and toys by growling and snapping. It is best to teach them as puppies to relinquish food and treats without aggression. It is easy to teach them using two bowls of food or two toys. You can pick up the bowl of food and immediately replace it with a second dish of food. Also hand feeding your best friend as a puppy helps them to understand that you are not competing with them for resources. Teaching your pup to relinquish a toy is as simple as showing them a second toy to easily get them to relinquish their current toy. Eventually this can be taught as a command. I like “Drop It” or “Give It”.

• Human aggression. Some dogs are predisposed genetically to guard territory or objects and without proper training this behavior can develop into full on aggression towards humans. This dangerous behavior is further compounded if a dog is improperly socialized as a puppy and suffers from fearful anxiety. When these two problems occur together it is typically referred to as ‘fear aggression’. In all but the worst of cases, these dogs can still be successfully trained to be obedient and safe companions. It is best to seek professional training as soon as possible when dealing with these problems.

• Prey aggression. Dogs who become infatuated with chasing other animals like cats and squirrels can eventually develop into full fledged aggression that can have deadly results for the other animal. It is always best to train these dogs before they kill another animal. Most dogs who learn to hunt other animals are habitual and it can be a very tough behavior to eliminate once learned. Always socialize the young puppy to friendly cats and discourage the chasing of any animal other than playing with other dogs.

Most types of aggression can be easily prevented by early socialization and training. It is very important that puppies be positively socialized to children, veterinarians, mail and delivery persons, and people of different ethnicities. In the cases of older dogs with aggression issues it is imperative to seek out professional training. Be sure to always be completely honest with your trainer about your dogs bite history. If your dog has bitten a person or another dog or animal, and a trainer is uncomfortable, it is a clear sign that you need a trainer who is more at ease with these very serious behaviors.

David Kabler has been training dogs since he was a boy and has been a Certified Master Trainer since 1995. David is available for lessons in Asheville, NC and surrounding areas. Call today to schedule you and your dogs consultation. David will evaluate your dogs personality and training needs and, it’s absolutely free. (828) 337-5792