• Giving Commands

    Hi all, George here. Today we’re going to talk about how to properly give commands to your dog. It may not sound important, but consistency is key when training your dog, so it is just as important that you know how to always give the command properly as it is for your dog to know how to respond to it. In a previous blog about name recognition and awareness, which you can read here , I discussed always giving treats with the right hand. Now we are going to expand on this idea.

    Before giving a command, it is important to have already learned the lessons in my first two training blogs about name recognition and awareness, and using proper correction sounds. When you want to give a command to your dog, you should get their attention by saying their name. If they are attentive and ready to receive a command, they will be calm. Their ears will be back, and they will be looking at you. This signals that they respect you, and are ready to obey you. A dog that has its ears perked up is too excited, and is not ready to obey. If they are not paying attention, then using your correction sounds would be the next step.

    As I have covered in previous lessons, in order for your dog to respect you and want to follow you, you must remain calm, and maintain a strong posture. Becoming angry and yelling will only make your dog anxious. For more on this, read my blog on the training lifestyle here. Dogs always like to maintain rank and file, and will follow if lead. If your dog is not responding to you, walk them in a quick circle. Often this will change your dog’s entire attitude.

    Once you know how and when to properly give your dog a command, you can teach your dog anything. Stay tuned for the next blog entry where I will begin teaching specific commands. As always, remember that you can control your dog’s behavior by controlling your own.

    Be sure to check back often for more tips and tricks on giving your pet the happiest and healthiest life possible. George Domsic is the owner at Benchmark Pet Services, and has more than 40 years experience in the field of dog training and psychology.

  • Correction Sounds

    Hi all, George here. In this blog entry, I would like to discuss how to train your dog to respond to proper correction sounds. Once your dog is trained to respond to these sounds, you’ll be able to grab their attention and correct their behavior any time, anywhere. It is important to understand that a dog’s hearing is more acute than our own, and human speech can often be overwhelming for them. Many people’s natural reaction is to yell at a dog when it is doing something wrong, but all this does is confuse the dog, and make them very anxious and non-compliant.

    The first thing you need to know before attempting to teach these correction sounds is how to properly use the leash as a training tool. I have written a blog on that subject, which you can read here. Doing the snap and release on the leash is a natural form of stimulus for a dog, as it is similar to how their mother corrected them as a puppy.

    To begin teaching these sounds, start with your dog on their leash. When they are sitting calmly at your feet, give the correction sound, and immediately snap and release the leash. Do this a few times each time you put your dog on their leash. I use two different sounds. Both are very sharp and piercing. SSH! and AAH! (If you want to hear these sounds, watch the attached video.) Over time, your dog will associate the sound with the snap of the leash, and you’ll be able to correct them with just the sound, even when they aren’t on their leash.

    When training, it is important to remain calm, and to project confidence. The dog needs to know you are in charge, and are the one to follow. When teaching correction sounds in a training class, I describe a situation any dog owner could easily find themselves in. Imagine your dog has run out into the road, and a car is coming. The natural reaction is to yell and scream, which will only serve to confuse the dog, and isn’t very likely to get them to get out of the road. But if you have taught them the correction sounds, as well as other commands I teach, then you can quickly and easily get your dog’s attention, and communicate to them that they need to come to you immediately.

    As always, you must remember that you can control your dog’s behavior by controlling your own.

    Be sure to check back often for more tips and tricks on giving your pet the happiest and healthiest life possible. George Domsic is the owner at Benchmark Pet Services, and has more than 40 years experience in the field of dog training and psychology.

  • Name Recognition and Awareness

    Hi all, George here. For the next several blog entries, we’re going to shift gears a little bit and cover some basic training techniques. To kick things off, I’m going to start with what is probably the most important part of training, name recognition and awareness.

    In operant behavioral training, having a reward mechanism is critical. In a previous blog, I discussed the proper techniques in using treats for training, which you can read here. Since the motivation for your dog is food, it is important that your dog is hungry. The first step before beginning any training regimen is starting a deprivation schedule. Your dog has to have not eaten for at least a few hours before starting a session. In my blog about food guarding, which you can read here, I discuss why it is important to feed your dog on a schedule, and not to leave food out all the time.

    To start things off, you should offer a treat for any acknowledgement of their name. When giving the treat, it is important to always give the treat with your right hand. Part of your goal is to get your dog to always watch your right hand. This is important because that’s the hand that you’ll be giving commands with. Dogs respond much better to visual commands than audible commands, so learning the right way to use your hands is just as important as learning the vocal commands.

    When training your dog, it is always important to maintain the correct posture and demeanor. When you present the treat to your dog, hold it in a closed fist in your right hand, and present it to your dog in a way that shows you own the treat, and you control whether or not the dog receives it. If your dog lunges or jumps at all for the treat, take it back. Only allow your dog to have the treat when they wait for you to give it to them instead of letting them take it from you. If you are unsure about any of this, be sure to watch the attached video to see my demonstration of correct posture and treat distribution.

    Thanks for reading, and be sure to check back later this month for a new blog on dog training. Next time the topic is correction sounds. As always, remember that you can control your dog’s behavior by controlling your own.

    Be sure to check back often for more tips and tricks on giving your pet the happiest and healthiest life possible. George Domsic is the owner at Benchmark Pet Services, and has more than 40 years experience in the field of dog training and psychology.

  • Knowing Your Breed’s Grooming Needs

    Hi all, George here. Today I’d like to talk more about specific grooming needs for your pet. It is important to understand that every type and breed of pet has different grooming requirements for optimum cleanliness and health. I have already discussed some needs specific to cats, and you can read that here.

    I was inspired to discuss this topic because of something that happened with another groomer in the Columbus area that I witnessed. They shaved a German Shepherd completely down to the skin. With some dogs this is OK, but not with a German Shepherd. German Shepherds have long, bristly hairs called “guard hairs.” In most cases, these hairs do not grow back. They are hairs for life. Even several months after having been shaved, this German Shepherd had barely grown any hair back.

    One of the most common mistakes I see is to bathe a dog and trying to brush it out afterwards. It should be done the other way around. If a dog already has knotted, matted fur, bathing will further cement those knots and make them even harder to get out. It is also important to brush against the grain rather than with it. Brushing with the grain will only go over knots, while brushing against the grain will help lift the fur and remove any loose hair.

    In another recent case I had a maltipoo whose fur was so badly matted we had to use scissors to cut him free from the layer of matted fur that was encasing him. This was a case of the dog being bathed but not brushed. With each bath more and more excess fur was trapped in this shell of matted fur until his skin could no longer breathe and bacteria began to build up.

    I recommend that you have your pet professionally groomed every 6-8 weeks. This will ensure you never have an extreme case like the ones I have described. Check out the online specials on our website here for $10 off a groom for your pet. Remember, a clean pet is a happy pet!

    Be sure to check back often for more tips and tricks on giving your pet the happiest and healthiest life possible. George Domsic is the owner at Benchmark Pet Services, and has more than 40 years experience in the field of dog training and psychology.

  • Using Treats During Training

    Hi all, George here. Today I’d like to talk about using treats during training. When used properly, they can be a very effective training tool. However, all too often I see dogs that are behaving poorly because the treats were used improperly.

    Dogs are food-motivated, and as such will respect whoever they perceive to be in control of their food. I discussed the topic of food guarding in a previous blog, which you can read here. If you have not read it, I would recommend you do so before reading this post. Many of the lessons covered in the food guarding blog can be applied to using treats for training.

    It is important to remember that treats should only be given when your dog performs exactly as you wanted them to. Too often I see people get frustrated when trying to train their dog, and they’ll end up giving them the treat just because they “sort of” did what they were supposed to. The dog does not understand this. If you asked the dog to sit, but they laid down, don’t give them a treat, or else they’ll think laying down is what they were supposed to do. Just because you have shown them the treat does not mean you have to give it to them.

    Once your dog has learned the behavior you are trying to teach them, it is important that you reduce the number of treats. If you give your dog a treat every single time they complete the behavior they will develop a sense of entitlement. They will expect that treat every time, and will behave poorly if they do not get it. In training classes I have actually had dogs attack me for the treat I was holding even though they did not earn it. They felt that it was owed to them.

    Treats are best dispensed randomly. Once your dog has learned the behavior, start shaking it up. Keep them guessing. When treats are given randomly the pet will work harder for the reward and will develop better recall of the command. Remember, with all dog training, the ultimate goal is to get them working for your approval, not for treats. Always reward your dog by communicating that you are pleased with their behavior by exhibiting quiet, calm serenity and giving your dog a light touch on the head. Your calmness will motivate them to work for your satisfaction. An occasional treat will just be the icing on the cake, so to speak. Your dog is happy when you are happy.

    Be sure to check back often for more tips and tricks on giving your pet the happiest and healthiest life possible. George Domsic is the owner at Benchmark Pet Services, and has more than 40 years experience in the field of dog training and psychology.

  • Cat Grooming

    Hi all, George here. Today I’d like to talk about cat grooming. Yes, you read that right. Cat grooming. Many people would respond to this by saying that having your cat professional groomed is unnecessary because they groom themselves. This is false. While your cat can make themselves appear clean, all they are really doing is spreading proteins all over their coat that bacteria feed off of.

    Over time, your cat’s coat will get a buildup of oils and loose fur. They will also get a lot of matted fur. Just as you appreciate a nice shower after a long day of working outside, so does your cat. Clearing away matted fur and oils allows your cat’s skin to breathe. Without clearing away all the excess fur, your cat can develop sores and lesions, so properly grooming your cat is just as important for their general health as it is for a dog.

    Keeping your cat’s nails trimmed is also just as important as it is for a dog. I have already done a blog on keeping your dog’s nails trimmed, which you can read here. In it, I outline all the reasons it is important to keep your dog’s nails trimmed, and many of them apply to your cat as well. As always, if you are not comfortable doing these things on your own, you can bring them to us. Our groomers are professionals, and offer very competitive rates.

    Be sure to check back often for more tips and tricks on giving your pet the happiest and healthiest life possible. George Domsic is the owner at Benchmark Pet Services, and has more than 40 years experience in the field of dog training and psychology.

  • Trimming Your Dog’s Toenails

    Hi all, George here. Today I’d like to talk about trimming your dog’s toenails. This is something that affects every dog owner. I tend to focus a lot on issues about training your pet, but this is something you’ll have to deal with no matter how well trained your dog is. Just as keeping your dog’s coat clean and trimmed is important for their comfort, so is trimming their nails.

    First, we must understand the differences between a dog’s toenails and our own. Unlike our own nails, a dog’s toenails are actually a part of the skeletal structure. Your dog can flex and extend their nails on command. It helps them with their gait, and to maintain balance. A dog that goes for walks regularly will have back toenails that mostly stay trimmed on their own because with each step they push off with those nails. A dog that mostly stays inside however will not have any regular trimming, and their nails can get long enough that it begins to cause serious issues.

    When a dog’s nails get too long, it can throw off their gait. As the nails become longer, it forces the dog to put more weight on the heel of their paw, rather than the front. Eventually, this leads to a dip in the dog’s spine as they compensate for the imbalance. I had one very unfortunate case with an older dog that became paralyzed because of a ruptured disc due to this very problem. The dog was older, and could not go through surgery to correct it, so ultimately it had to be euthanized. It was definitely a tragedy, and one that was completely preventable.

    So how often should you trim your dog’s nails? The easiest rule to follow is that if you can hear your dog’s toenails clicking and clacking on a hard floor, then it’s time to trim. Doing it once a month is a good schedule to follow, or you could just do it whenever you trim your own nails. If you intend to do it yourself, it is very important to know that a dog’s nail is not like yours. You can not simply trim down as far as you like. A dog’s nail is like tree bark growing around a bit of living flesh that we refer to as the “quick.” If you trim down too far and cut the quick, you will cause your dog a lot of pain, as well as a lot of bleeding. If you are not comfortable doing this yourself, then bring them to us. Feel free to check out the grooming section of our website here.

    Be sure to check back often for more tips and tricks on giving your pet the happiest and healthiest life possible. George Domsic is the owner at Benchmark Pet Services, and has more than 40 years experience in the field of dog training and psychology.

  • Rescue Dogs

    Hi all, George here. Today I’d like to talk about a topic that is near and dear to me, and that is rescue dogs. Dealing with a dog that has been mistreated, or at the very least poorly trained can be very challenging. You must be even more vigilant about asserting your position as the calm and collected leader.

    As I have already discussed in my blog on dog psychology , dogs are always trying to determine their position in the pack. They ultimately seek the comfort of a strong leader. A rescue dog will have higher than normal anxiety, and acting submissive to them will only validate their fears. For many people, the natural reaction when meeting a rescue dog is to stoop down and baby-talk them, which is really the wrong thing to do. This type of behavior can communicate you are fearful, which will validate their anxiety. It can also tell them you are submissive, which provides no security to an already insecure and anxious dog.

    Instead you should remain calm, cool, and collected. Show the dog that nothing bothers you, and you are in complete control. Your dog will follow your lead, and their anxiety will melt away. A dog that knows it is following a strong leader is a happy and calm dog. You have given them the stability and order they always craved. As I always say, you can control your dog’s behavior by controlling your own.

    Be sure to check back often for more tips and tricks on giving your pet the happiest and healthiest life possible. George Domsic is the owner at Benchmark Pet Services, and has more than 40 years experience in the field of dog training and psychology.

  • Meeting a Dog

    Hi all, George here. One of the complaints I hear frequently is that a dog is very wild when people come over. People will be annoyed when they come over because the dog will jump on them, bite them, and be an all-around nuisance. Today I’d like to discuss the proper behavior for when you meet a dog to ensure that they know you are in charge, and that they should behave for you.

    All of the principles I will discuss today have already been covered in one form or another in previous blogs, we are simply applying them to a different situation. I recommend reading my blog post on jumping and biting, which you can find here. I also recommend watching my video on the subject of dog psychology, which you can find here.

    A dog is constantly reassessing the order of the pack. Every time a person enters or leaves the room, the dog will decide where he sits in the order of the pack. This is why it is important to always let the dog know you are dominant. The same is true when you arrive at someone’s home. When you come into someone’s home, and their dog comes in to greet you, you should not show any submissive signs. Bending down, using “baby talk,” and stepping away from the dog are all signs that you are submissive to them, and that the dog is the dominant person in your relationship.

    Instead, you need to show signs that you are dominant. Stand tall, and do not look down at the dog. Act as if the dog is not even there, and that you are so cool and confident that it does not pose any threat to you at all. If the dog jumps on you, do not back up. Push the dog down by the shoulders/neck, and stand your ground. Do not give the dog any attention until they have shown that they are submissive to you. I speak from experience when I say that if you use these techniques, even the most misbehaved dogs will treat you with respect, and your friends will say “wow he is always so behaved when you’re here!” As I always say, you can control your dog’s behavior by controlling your own.

    Be sure to check back often for more tips and tricks on giving your pet the happiest and healthiest life possible. George Domsic is the owner at Benchmark Pet Services, and has more than 40 years experience in the field of dog training and psychology.

  • Dog Psychology

    Hi all, George here. Today I’d like to talk about a pretty broad topic, and that is dog psychology. Understanding how dogs think is a very important part of training, if not the most important part. Knowing how they react to certain stimuli makes it significantly easier to make them act the way we want them to.

    The first thing one needs to understand about dog psychology is that dogs are pack animals. Within the pack, there is very clear and precise order. Each member of the pack knows exactly who is above them and who is below them. Once I was driving through southern Ohio, and saw a group of dogs demonstrating this perfectly. They were all walking down the sidewalk in the single file line. When they reached the crosswalk, the leader stopped, and the others behind him followed. They all sat and waited, and as soon as the leader got up and began crossing the street, once again, they followed. They all knew their position in the pack, and the whole group traveled smoothly as a result.

    In a previous blog, I discussed the idea that training is not a one-time event, but rather a lifestyle change. You can read that here. This idea is very important for getting the dog that you want. Because your dog is always using the pack mentality, they will always seek validation of their position within the pack. Every time a person enters or leaves the room, they must reassess their position in the pack. If they believe a person is showing signs of submission, they will try to move up the ladder and take over. For a dog meeting a new person is like the blinking game you played as a child, “The first one to blink loses”. The proper way for any human to establish the dog is submissive to them is to ignore the dog and wait for the dog to acknowledge you. If the dogs attempts to crawl up your leg or jump on you push them down and walk into them. This establishes you are dominant and the dog is submissive to you.

    Remember most dogs don’t mind being submissive, they just want you to communicate the terms of the relationship. Understanding how your dog thinks will go a long way in helping you to adjust their behavior. As I always say, you can control your dog’s behavior by controlling your own.

    Be sure to check back often for more tips and tricks on giving your pet the happiest and healthiest life possible. George Domsic is the owner at Benchmark Pet Services, and has more than 40 years experience in the field of dog training and psychology.