March 16, 2010: Blog entry #1: Lupa
Well, here I am, Dan Ross, a.k.a. Dan the Dogfather,
a.k.a. Dan the Dogtrainer, a.k.a. the crazy dog guy. Upon the urging of
several clients, I have decided to start a blog. I figure the best way
about talking about training, and the keys to success, are to cover an
individual dog, their behaviours, and the ways I go about training them. I
will eventually have a comment board up, so for now, questions, problems, or
concerns can be addressed to my email at
I'd like to begin this blog talking about my recent
adoptee, Lupa. Lupa, a 5-year old Shepherd/Husky mix, came up from
Georgia, and it was love at first sight. I picked her up at the SPCA here,
which is where she had to spend the night, since I couldn't grab her until the
day after she arrived. She came out of the SPCA, gave me a friendly hello,
and jumped in my car, which at the time had a used Papazon chair tied to the top
with 100 ft of rope. Great deal from someone moving... came with a
footrest and everything for only 50 bucks! So, I buy old chairs for my
dogs? Yep... but I digress. I got Lupa home and started working with
her shortly thereafter. Good news: no real aggression issues, quiet,
cat/people/dog friendly. Bad News: Not housebroken, terrible listener.
It is always nice to get a quiet dog in. So many
dogs have separation anxiety, or bark at the slightest noise. You want a
dog to alert you, but barking at nothing quickly becomes annoying and when you
have them in your house, one can go a little loopy. She paced for the
first few days when she was up in my quarters, and for not being inside a house
very often in her old life, she did pretty well. At least she isn't scared
of silly things like the microwave.
Lupa is a fairly submissive dog; she'll stick up for
herself with other dogs, but is very submissive with me. Odds are that she
got in big trouble in her old life, as her natural defence is rolling over and
covering her face with her front paws. Cute, but when you want her to do
work, not the most ideal position to be in.
"Lupa, starting to think she is in trouble."
Housebreaking... well, it is a work in progress. She
definitely was an outside dog in her old life, as she has no qualms about
squatting and peeing right in front of me. No poos at all, which is good.
She is very clean when she has to be in her kennel, but she does not indicate
that she has to go out. This is not uncommon regardless of whether it is a
puppy or a 5 year old rescue dog that has never been in a house.
The key with her is water regulation. Lupa is a
water glutton, and as such, she tends to pee a lot. I give her 10 seconds
to drink, and then I cut her off. She has been doing really well the past
few weeks, although she did have an accident today, but I was on the phone
getting beef organs lined up to make organ jerky for the dogs (available soon!
Grass-fed cows, local, and hormone free.), so it is my fault. When
catching a dog in the act, there are many trainers that suggest to ignore it and
then take the dog outside. Sooo... a dog pees in the house, you watch,
then it gets a walk outside? Remember, the dog needs to learn what is
right and what is wrong. NEVER rub the dog's nose in it, but a loud clap,
a strong verbal correction and then immediately take her out so she can finish
outside. When she pees outside, immediately praise her in an excited tone,
"Good girl! Good pee!" By making things very black and white, you
can teach a dog not to do any bad behaviour and using encouragement teach a dog
desired behaviours. The keys to successful housebreaking are vigilance and
routine. Pay attention to a dog's body language, and get them on a regular
food/water/going out routine, and you should be able to set your watch by when
they have to go out. Many dogs will pace, whine, sit near the door, but
others will have no real signs. Being proactive allows the owner to
anticipate when a dog has to go out. Remember, if a dog just woke up from
a nap, just got a huge drink of water, or just got done playing around, it is
going to have to go out fairly soon.
Lupa and obedience is frustrating for me personally a bit.
It has been a long time since I had to train MY dog. I train other dogs
all day, at their homes, but for a dog in my own home, I have taken for granted
the status quo that exists with Magnus, Molly and myself. I have had to
really be encouraging with Lupa, as she is easily offended, but quick to run if
she thinks she is in trouble. She is the type of dog who performs
perfectly on-lead, but the second I take the lead off, away she runs.
There are many of you that have dogs like that. The easy answer in dealing
with a dog like this is keeping her on-lead or close at all times. Make a
lot of eye contact, a lot of interaction and keep her watching you. Daily
workout routines on a long lead, ending with a fun session of tennis ball is
getting her to really want to please me. Getting a dog to listen off-lead
is all about trust and respect.
That is it for my first blog entry. I'll try to post
weekly, as I always have training stories with different dogs, and they can be a
good learning experience for us all. I'll keep y'all updated on Lupa,