Welcome Home! Ultimate Guide Further Info.

Below you can find the further information that I reference in my Welcome Home! Ultimate Guide:

Security & Confidence

Daily routines help your puppy develop a sense of security and confidence. Follow this daily guide to raise a happy, well-socialized and well-behaved puppy:

7-9am: Outside, Breakfast, Walk & Play

  • Take puppy out of crate/kennel. (More on crate/kennel training in my Welcome Home! Ultimate Guide DVD.)
  • Take puppy directly outside to eliminate. “Label” the process with a phrase like “go potty,” then praise and offer a treat when he is successful. (More on house training in my Welcome Home! Ultimate Guide DVD.)
  • Breakfast.
  • About 15 mins. after breakfast, take puppy outside to eliminate again and then take him for a walk (if he has had his vaccinations).
  • Take puppy back inside and allow him to explore a little. Give a treat-filled chew toy for play and fun. Play the “Capture” games throughout the day. Put him in a kennel or exercise pen, or tether him in a supervised, social area and give him a high-quality, chewy treat.

9am-12pm: Rest

12-1pm: Outside, Training & Play

  • Take puppy outside to eliminate.
  • Play the “Find It” games. After watching my Welcome Home! Ultimate Guide DVD on how to train your puppy with cues, practice sit, down, stay, come, go-to-bed, etc.
  • Throw toys and play.

1-4pm: Rest

5-6pm: Outside, Walk, Training & Play

  • Take puppy outside to eliminate.
  • Take puppy for a walk (if he has had his vaccinations).
  • Play the “Find It” games. After watching my Welcome Home! Ultimate Guide DVD on how to train your puppy with cues, add in some of this training also.

4-9pm: Dinner, Training & Play

  • Give puppy supervised free time or keep him kenneled or tethered in a social area of your home. Watch TV, read or work on your computer while practicing the “Capture” games. Give a treat-filled chew toy for play and fun.

9pm: Outside then Sleep

  • Take puppy outside to eliminate.
  • Keep puppy in a kenneled area in your bedroom for a good night’s sleep.

We suggest this vaccination protocol created by W. Jean Dodds, DVM:

9-10 Weeks Old: Distemper + Parvovirus, MLV (e.g. Merck Nobivac [Intervet Progard] Puppy DPV)

14-16 Weeks: Same as above

20 Weeks or Older: Rabies (if allowable by law)

1 Year: Distemper + Parvovirus, MLV (optional = titer)

1 Year after initial dose: Rabies, killed 3-year product (give 3-4 weeks apart from Distemper/ Parvovirus booster)

Dr. Dodds considers infectious canine hepatitis (adenovirus-1), canine adenovirus-2, bordetella, canine influenza, canine coronavirus, leptospirosis, and Lyme regional and situational. Please research the prevalence in your area, and discuss it with your veterinarian.9-10 Weeks

Collars, Harnesses, Leashes and Tethers

It used to be that all anyone needed to walk and/or train their dog was a six-foot leash and a choke chain.  My how times have changed – and for the better. This article explores the many varieties of collars, harnesses leashes and tethers on the market today and the good, the bad and the ugly of how they are used.

As a professional reward-based trainer, I believe that whatever tool you choose, it should be used humanely, with your first thought being what is best and most comfortable for your dog. My personal philosophy is that collars, harnesses, leashes and tethers should primarily be used as safety tools, not training tools.  As you’ll discover below, collars, in particular, should not be used for training a dog to walk nicely on a leash. They should only be used to carry identification tags.

Collars

For many, collars are, nevertheless, used for training, to hold identification tags and as fashion accessories. They can be made of nylon, plastic, cotton, rubber, leather and metal. Types include everyday-use collars such as rolled collars, flat collars, martingale collars, buckle collars, and snap collars. Safety-minded, “break-away” collars are designed so that dogs that grab while playing don’t potentially strangulate their playmate or injure themselves by getting their jaws caught. Specialty collars include electronic training collars, spray collars, flea collars, flotation collars and Elizabethan and inflatable “donut” collars (typically used to keep a dog from licking a wound and/or sutures). This entire article could be devoted to collars alone but then we would have no room to write about harnesses, leashes and tethers. So, to keep things economical, we’ll review the pros and cons of the most familiar and most used collars.

Choke chains and Prong Collars    

Choke chains, also referred to as “slip” collars, chain training collars and check chains, have been around for over 50 years. They were originally made popular by British dog trainer Barbara Woodhouse in the 1960’s. The choke collar is placed just behind the dog’s ears and constricts or tightens when the trainer pulls on the leash.  A prong collar, also known as a pinch collar is made of a series of metal spikes or prongs, or wedge-shaped points that pinch the loose skin of the dog’s neck when the trainer pulls on the leash. Both choke and prong collars can be made of metal, plastic or nylon and are primarily used to control a dog’s pulling and lunging and to get them to heel (walk by a person’s side). The trainer usually employs a series of short jerks on the leash, also called “pops”, as punishment to get the desired result. Ultimately, the dog learns to avoid the aversive tightening of the collar around his neck by walking near the trainer’s side.

PROS: None

It is certainly possible to force a dog to stop doing something such as jumping or lunging, and it is possible to teach a behavior such as heeling by using a choke or prong collar. However, our understanding of how dog’s learn has come a long way in the past 20 years and the field has evolved, resulting in safer, easier, and more reliable reward-based training methods. Using a choke or prong collar to force a behavior is no way to educate a family member and friend. It is no way to promote kindness, compassion, empathy and nonviolence in the world.

CONS: The possibility for whiplash and injuries to the trachea and esophagus that can lead to complete asphyxiation (such as when a dog is hung or “helicoptered”).

Other injuries may include spinal cord trauma that may impact movement and cause paralysis, injuries to blood vessels in the eyes, neck sprains, bruising and damage to the skin and tissues in the neck and/or behavioral problems such as pain-influenced aggression which may lead to severe bites.

Martingale Collars

Martingale collars, also known as limited slip collars or greyhound collars, are flat, usually cotton collars with a loop that goes over the dog’s head and another attached loop that, when pulled, tightens the loop around the dog’s head.  Properly adjusted, it tightens but never closes the loop completely so it doesn’t choke.

PROS: Doesn’t choke a dog and the design makes it virtually impossible for a dog to slip out of or to back out of, when it is fitted properly.

CONS: Loose loops. People often do not fit the collar correctly and the dog’s paw can sometimes get caught in the dangling loop and sometimes the dog gets her lower jaw caught. It must be stressed that properly fitted, the collar is safe.

Unfortunately, some people believe the collar is designed to keep a dog from pulling. It is not.

Lastly, for safety’s sake, it is very important to remove any collar, especially a Martingale when dogs are playing with one another and when dogs are put in their kennels.

Electronic Collars

Electronic collars are also referred to as remote-training collars or shock collars. An electronic collar is designed to deliver an electrical charge in order to communicate what the trainer wants the dog to do or stop doing. Electronic collars can be used in three ways:

  1. Marker: A signal to the dog that a behavior is correct and a treat is on the way. In this mode, the collar is set at the lowest vibrational intensity possible. Classical conditioning is used first to pair the tactile electrical sensation with a highly-valued treat. Some blind and deaf dogs are trained in this way.
  2. Cue to elicit a behavior: A signal to the dog to do a particular behavior, such as turn left, turn right, lie down, come, etc. In this mode, the collar is set at the lowest vibrational intensity possible.
  3. Cue to stop a behavior, aka Punishment: This is the option most people are familiar with. If a dog is doing something the trainer doesn’t want like jumping, barking, lunging, escaping from a yard, and so on, an electric current is delivered to the dog through two contact points located on the collar. In this mode, the collar is set at a level with enough intensity to force the dog to comply because of the discomfort or pain caused by the electric current.

PROS: In the experienced hands of a reward-based trainer, an electronic collar can be an effective tool in remote training as well as for some, not all, blind and deaf dogs.

CONS: If all e-collars in existence had a maximum setting of a “feather’s touch,” without any chance of additional intensity, they can, with strict instruction and careful monitoring, be a useful tool for many, but not all, dogs. Unfortunately, this is not the case and there are several other reasons electronic collars are not recommended, including:

The trainer’s skills. In the hands of anyone but the most skilled individual, which includes precise timing, consistency and awareness of the individual dog’s physical and emotional capabilities, the propensity for mistakes and abuse in using in electronic collar are almost guaranteed. And that becomes a catch-22. In order to achieve an effective level of expertise, the individual has to experiment and practice, which means the dog is going to suffer while the trainer hones his or her skills.

Using Aversive Training Methods There is a greater safety risk when using aversive training methods. If too much force or intensity is used, the dog may shut down completely and the relationship with the trainer or other humans or animals is irreparably harmed. This is especially true if shock collars are used on already stressed, fearful and reactive dogs. If too little force is used, the dog simply learns to ignore the signals. In addition, the temptation exists for people to “speed the process up” by cranking up the intensity. As with the use of choke and prong collars, if a trainer thinks a little correction works, it is easy to slip into “a little more might work better” mode and the intensity of the corrections increase.

The Individual Dog. The amount of pain that a dog feels depends on several factors: the dog’s touch sensitivity, the amount of hair between the collar’s contact points and the dog’s skin, the dog’s temperament and past training history, and so on. It is impossible for any human to feel what a dog is feeling. Putting a shock collar around one’s own neck cannot compare to what a particular dog will feel. Even if one did such an experiment, the emotional impact is quite different if the control is given to another person and the experimenter never knows when the correction is coming.

Unintentional Corrections.  I can attest to the fact that a dog can experience a shock completely unrelated to the trainer’s intentions. Occasionally an outside radio frequency can set off the dog’s shock collar, such as a child playing with a remote-controlled toy or an automatic garage opener.

Ethical Consideration. If a behavior can be elicited or controlled without causing pain or discomfort, why would anyone consciously choose to inflict pain or discomfort on a cherished companion, friend or family member?

Summary: Collars

Wider collars are more comfortable for dogs, whether you choose a buckle collar, a snap collar or a Martingale collar. Whatever collar you choose, it should be regularly checked for proper fit. Collars should never be used for training, only for identification.

Remember to take collars off when you put your dog in a kennel or when they are playing with other dogs. In those situations, a break-away collar with secondary tags is highly recommended.

Stay away from choke and prong collars and stay away from electronic collars unless under the direct supervision of a professional trainer, rooted in reward-based training.

Harnesses

There are several types of harnesses for several types of purposes: car harnesses, anti-pulling harnesses, sled dog harnesses and regular harnesses. This section will focus on the harnesses used to maintain safety on walks.

To preface, I believe harnesses, like collars, should be only used as safety tools. They should not be used for training.  It is recommended that for safety and comfort, with few exceptions, a leash be attached to a properly fitted harness rather than collar when walking a dog.

Lastly, no “no-pull” harness should be a substitute for training your dog to walk without pulling or lunging. But until a dog is an accomplished “nice walker,” an anti-pulling harness can be very helpful.

Nose Harness

A nose harness, also referred to as a head halter, is one of the most common anti-pulling harnesses on the market. It works on the principle of “where the head goes, the body follows.”  A nose harness works as a form of negative reinforcement: gentle pressure is applied on the dog’s nose whenever the dog pulls; that pressure is released immediately when the dog stops pulling.

Some brand names of head halters include “Gentle Leader,” “Promise Collar,” “Comfort Trainer,” “Canny Collar” and “Halti.”

PROS: Properly, the nose harness/head halter doesn’t cause pain and can be an effective, humane anti-pulling tool.

CONS: Harnesses won’t work for some dogs because of their physiology (e.g., brachycephalic dogs like Pugs and French Bulldogs because the straps ride up into the dog’s eye area). Also, many dogs do not like contraptions around their muzzle (however, after a few days of counter-conditioning, such dogs can usually wear the halter without difficulty).

Further, there can be a serious safety factor regarding the potential for spinal injury when using a nose harness. If a dog suddenly lunges and comes up short at the end of the leash, the dog’s head can be jerked violently sideways. Along those lines, in spite of written cautions, some people use leash corrections on a dog wearing nose harnesses. Leash corrections are never recommended in training and this is especially dangerous if a dog is wearing a nose harness. The quick jerks and pops of the leash can easily injure a dog’s neck and spine.

Lastly, many dogs revert to pulling once the halter is removed.

Front Attachment Harnesses

As the name implies, the front attachment harness has a connection ring situated o