Basic Training

     Few animals in the wild exhibit more intelligence or adaptability than the wolf. Highly social, wolves band together into packs with a distinct hierarchy. Capable leadership by the "top dog," or alpha male wolf, insures the packs success. Your dog possesses the same pack instincts. No matter whether he's a Malamute or Maltese or Rat Terrier, the desire to belong to a well-led group is as inherent to him as to the wolf.

     In a perfect world, your dog's social status should be below that of the humans in his "pack". The dog should look to you and your family for guidance and be instinctively obedient, just as wolves are to the alpha leader.

Looking for Leadership
     Unfortunately this is often not the case. By ignoring the dogs need to be led, many owners inadvertently force their dogs to become the leaders of their own "packs," creating behavioral problems. Without a leader to look up to, your dog takes charge, and can become pushy, controlling or even aggressive.

     The good news is you can avoid these issues by becoming the leader of your pack. Begin basic obedience training with your dog immediately to convince him you're in control. He'll learn to obey in order to receive attention and pack acceptance.


The "Sit" Command
A simple behavior, "Sit" can be taught to dogs of any age.
Here's how to begin:

1. Choose a quiet location. With your dog standing in front of you, hold a small treat, an inch in front of his nose. If he jumps up, pull the treat away immediately.
2. Slowly move the treat up and back, toward a point between his ears. As you do so, say his name, and then "Sit'. Don't let the treat get more than an inch away from his nose, or he'll jump. As you move the treat up and back, he'll tilt his head back and then sit naturally. He'll soon sit to keep his nose and mouth close to the treat.
3. The instant your dog sits, say "Good Sit!' Then, give him the treat and praise. Repeat this four times, then stop, while the dog is still excited from the treat.
4. Work this several times each day, for a week. Eventually, you'll get him to sit by simply moving your hand in an upward fashion, and saying "Sit".
5. Slowly wean him off of treats, until he performs just for your praise alone. Soon, just the spoken command or just using the hand signal will work.


Adding "Stay"
Once your pooch can sit, teach him to "Stay", holding the position until released.
Here's how:

1. Command your dog to sit. Have a treat in hand, but don't give it to him yet.
2. Place your open palm in front of his face and say "Stay". Say it once, then wait a second or two. If he stays sitting, praise him by quietly saying "Good stay". Then say "Okay!" and give him the treat and lots of praise.
3. Gradually increase the wait time, while slowly inching yourself away. After a week, your dog should remain in the sit position for at least two minutes, with you several yards away.
4. Eventually, wean him off of treats and onto just praise. Soon he'll sit for several minutes, with you at the opposite end of the room.


The "Down" Command
Here's how to start:

1. Stand in front of your dog holding the leash close to his neck using one hand and pull it downward to the floor. At the same time give the command "Down" Use your other hand for holding a treat moving in a downward motion to the floor.
2. His chest and front legs should now be on the floor, keep a hold on the leash and if his butt is still up in the air, gently push it to the floor. Once he is down reward him with a treat.
3. You can also do this technique standing beside the dog or by looping the leash low to the floor and using your foot to crawl up the leash lowering the dog's head.

     There are many advantages to teaching your dog these basic commands. When they start to jump up on you or other people use the sit command to stop the behavior. The down command can to the same thing. Stay is vital for teaching your dog to not move. There are many times when you need to stop your dog in its tracks to protect him. For instance outside where he could run out into the street or when you are leaving the house and opening the door and you do not want to the dog to run out behind you.

     It is always good to sign up for obedience or handling class to correct a bad behavior or to just enjoy quality time together. And bring along the whole family, since consistency is key!!


Fun with Flyball
What is Flyball?

     Created in California in the 1970's, Flyball is an international team sport for dogs that involves retrieving a ball and running between owners and boxes. Today, around 8,000 dogs play in North America on about 500 teams. As many as 400 dogs compete in a tournament.
     Flyball is set up as a relay race with four-dog teams, it consists of a course with a starting line, four hurdles spaced 10 feet apart and a box. Competing dogs jump the hurdles and step on a spring-loaded box, which ejects a ball.
     Jump heights range from eight to 16 inches, depending on the shoulder height of the smallest dog. The object of the game is to get the ball and take it to the owner.
     Dogs earn points toward titles. The points are based on a team's total time; if a team runs in less than 24 seconds, each dog earns 25 points. Points accumulate to earn titles-FD, of Flyball Dog, requires 20 points and the winner gets a certificate. A total of 30,000 points names a dog FGDCh, or Flyball Grand Champion, for which they receive pins and plaques.
Most handlers teach the game in these steps:

1. First, a dog needs to learn to "recall to their owner as quickly as possible". Most owners accomplish this by offering a reward. Dogs are driven to go to a ball, itís a natural instinct.
2. This middle step involves "clicker training" a new training method in which the dog goes to a designated spot (piece of cardboard or carpet) and touches the spot with his paw. The dog then hears a "click" as a reward.
3. Once a dog masters Step 2, the designated spot will be moved to the box and eventually the ball is added to the equation.
4. Most teams practice weekly, but owners often work nightly with their pups. It's important to stretch and exercise your dog before and after practice and competition.

     Membership dues and costs vary among clubs. Some groups charge quarterly dues to cover equipment costs. Tournament fees are usually split among team members.
     North American Flyball Association (NAFA) is the governing body for Flyball in North America. For more information contact  http://www.flyball.org/  Each dog that races in a NAFA sanctioned tournament requires a Competition Racing Number or CRN before they compete. The CRN enables NAFA to track points accumulated by the dog and award titles as earned. The CRN, once assigned, is good for the life of the dog. Each CRN costs $15 USD and is a one-time expenditure.
 
 

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