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P2Y12: What it doesn't mean
Insights from Christine Zink, Phd, DVM
How to Research Dog Show
Danger of Fake Service Dogs
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This page has some forum posts that I've made along with links to some of my
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handling, and judging are a hobby to me. I also combine many theories with my training methods. To understand some of
my background and professional science
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Training and Behavior Articles -
Correct Harnessing and Hitching - because we want to keep your dog safe.
Some of our Mantras - stuff we live by.
So you think you want a dog? - because getting a
dog is a big deal.
Handout - drafting and weight pull - PDF
The Consequences of Not
Socializing your Dog - bad things can happen
Socialization - we like having friends
Crash Course Weight Pull - learn the basics, fast!
- Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson
- Don't Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor - I use this book in my Intro to
- Cesar's Way by Cesar Milan
- Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas
- The Other End of the Leash by Patricia McConnell
- Water Work, Water Play by Judi Adler - water rescue
Training for the Small Dog by Barbara Cecil and Gerianne Darnell -
- SuperPuppy: How to Raise the Best Dog You'll Ever Have! by Peter J.
- New Link - Great Resource for those training -
On jumping and mouthing:
Quick and easy thing to do: get a gentle leader now. Petsmart
carries them, and they open at 9 am tomorrow. If he's doing this to the point of
knocking over adults and using his mouth on humans, leave the gentle leader on
at all times in the house and keep him on a leash. The gentle leader will be
easier for you to control his head. When he starts the jumping, grab the gentle
leader downwards, and get him into the down position quickly. He should already
know the down command by now and do it when given the command. Remember, you are
not asking him to down, you are telling him to down. Do this each and every
time. He will get the picture of when he misbehaves, he's put into the down
The gentle leader works quickly because it pushes down on the dog's muzzle,
which is the physical way of saying "quit it" or "knock it off." You can also do
it without the gentle leader, but that's too hard to explain over the internet.
When I have some free time, I'll make a video and post it on youtube.
Here's a link to how the gentle leader works:
Keep the gentle leader on and instruct your daughter and husband on how to put
him in a down position. The gentle leader is designed so that even people of
smaller stature can easily control a dog's head. It's all about leverage.
If he is not on the gentle leader, he needs to be crated. No ifs and or buts. If
Jake is like most dogs, he will dislike the gentle leader. He will buck like a
bronco. He will try to pull it off. He'll eventually get used to it. I would
keep this on him until you get him into another obedience class. Don't be fooled
by his temporary good behavior and take it off.
Anyways, that's my quick fix advice at the moment. Get into another obedience
class ASAP. Look to your local obedience or kennel club. Look for members who
compete in competitive obedience especially with large, slow to mature dogs.
They will probably have more experience with this than pet trainers.
Also, keep in mind that Jake is now a tween, and going to be a full-blown
teenager in a few short months. You want to address this problem now as it might
get much worse when he's a teenager.
On another note, with all that extra motivation and energy he has now, it would
be a great time to get him into competitive obedience. My trainer would take
that kind of motivation and turn it into focus and drive for retrieves.
Post on Barking at Strangers:
The concept of negative reinforcements in the sense that
most people use them are actually positive punishers. Negative means that you're
taking something away. You can take away food, privileges, or the shock of a
collar. Those are all negative - they are going away. Reinforcement increases
the behavior. Positive reinforcements are what most people call rewards.
Negative reinforcements are things that stop or go away once the desired
behavior occurs. An common one that humans are trained to do (at least should be
trained to do), is putting on a seat belt. Your car will make an annoying sound
until you put the seat belt on. Once you have it on, the sound goes away. The
annoying sound going away was negative. The behavior you want to increase is
putting on your seat belt.
Positive always means you're adding something to the situation. You can add
treats or you can add a spray of a water bottle. Punishers decrease the
behaviors. A positive punisher would be adding something that decreases
behaviors - like the spray of a water bottle. A positive reinforcement adds
something that increases behavior - like food or praise.
It may seem like all these words are just a matter of semantics, but sometimes
when the concepts aren't very clear, it can lead to confusing training for the
I have to strongly disagree with your teacher. I would teach her that growling
at people for no reason is unacceptable. I would personally give your dog an
alternative behavior to perform before the growling even starts. Once you allow
your dogs to growl at people for no particular reason, they will think it is
okay. If they were allowed to growl before without consequence, they'll do it
I don't think that dogs carry pent up frustration from day to day and act out in
passive behavior. That's what humans do! They don't need therapists to talk out
their frustration and stress. Dogs growl because something is bothering them.
Find out what that something is. Fix it. It may be that she doesn't like a hat
that someone is wearing in your class. Maybe someone in your class wears a
perfume that she doesn't like. If dogs spoke English, we could ask.
Unfortunately they don't, so it is our jobs as owners to figure it out the hard
I would put my dog in a down and give positive reinforcement (rewards) for not
growling. Then you can start associating the "growling stimulus" with rewards,
and eventually get your dog to like whatever it used to dislike. If your dog is
not able to do that, you may have to back track, and keep your dog far away from
whatever it is and slowly desensitize your dog to the object/person. This is a
very slow process. Don't rush or push the dog.
If it is strangers she doesn't like, she probably needs some confidence boosting
and needs to learn HOW to greet strangers. You can start by rewarding (positive
reinforcement) her every time a strangers comes by, but you MUST do it BEFORE
she is distracted and begins to growl. If you do it after, she'll learn that
being distracted and growling will earn her rewards. You can keep doing this
until strangers can get closer and closer to her before she starts to be
distracted and growls. You may have to start by rewarding her when the stranger
is 100 ft away or more. Essentially, what you are doing is rewarding her every
time a stranger comes by. You want her to think that strangers are a good thing.
Every time a stranger (provided that they aren't running at you screaming) comes
by, I get rewarded!
We do this same thing with distractions and proofing in our obedience class. The
final product in our obedience class is when there are distractions (because
there are never any at obedience trials
, the dogs look to their handlers for their reward. Quite the opposite of what
most people usually do. Most classes I've been to, trainers teach people to
correct the dog after they are distracted. What that tells the dog is, "Everytime
a distraction comes by, I get a correction. Distractions are a bad thing."
Thusly, dogs misbehave when distractions come around.
In your case, I would prevent the growling and reward the desired behavior. You
are going to kill two birds with one store. 1. You're prevented the undesirable
behavior. 2. You've taught the dog how to behavior when there are strangers.
What your trainer is suggesting is that you correct the undesirable behavior.
What's going to happen if you aren't there to correct her? Associate strangers
with good things, but don't allow the growling. Change the situation before she
has a chance to growl.
You can also have your dog in a down position when strangers are approaching and
reward in the down position. Some dogs are calmer and less excitable in a down
than in a stand. You can also teach her that it is the proper way to greet
strangers, from a down. With my own dog, I do this when there are children and
babies. As soon as we see children coming, he assumes the position. Children are
a less intimidated by him when he's in a down. And over time, he has learned
that people tend to pet him more when he has his belly up. When we're in public
and people start to walk away, he immediately rolls over - with no intervention
from me. Everyone says "Aw..... " and comes back to rub his belly. People laugh
at us in obedience class because it is both of my dogs who are always belly up
during lecture time. Note: I didn't teach them the belly up. I only taught Mouse
the down. Belly up is his own doing.
For alarm barking, I give the "enough" command. Or I will check out the
situation. Mouse doesn't alarm bark that often, so when he does. Something's up.
Good Luck! Happy Training!
Oh, I forgot to mention something earlier. Sometimes
correcting a growl, will keep the dog from growling, but won't keep the dog from
disliking whatever it is growling at. Thus, you might get a dog that is a
"silent biter." Silent biters don't have pent up anger that needs to be
released. They just don't warn you when they will bite! I'm always an advocate
of fixing the root of the problem, not a symptom of the problem.
On Discipline through the Teenage stage:
Use a leash. There's no need to yell. Yelling will only make
YOU appear out of control and anxious.
I don't think he necessarily "knows" what was wrong that he did. What is
probably happening is that he sees that you are anxious and upset and that is
why he laying his head down.
Go back, do some more obedience. Maybe you can try to work on your relationship
with your dog rather than just obedience. They are two separate things. You can
try doing some working activities. And remember, this phase shall soon pass.
I've been thinking about exercises to build a stronger
relationship with your dog. One method that my trainer does routinely is to put
the dog in a crate while she trains other dogs (or does other things) -
completely ignoring the dog in the crate. The dog in the crate will get excited,
curious, and feel left out. After 3 days of not getting to play and training
time, you better bet that dog is motivated to want to be with the trainer even
if there is no other reward. Remember that dogs are social creatures. Being with
others is rewarding in and of itself.
Mouse goes through this weekly as Basil's class is from 7:40-8:40. Mouse's class
is from 8:40-9:40. By the time he comes out of the crate, he is super motivated
to do anything I ask of him.
Other things that you can do is play/run away from your dog. Grab a toy or a
handful of treats and play/pretend to eat the treats. Totally ignore your dog.
If he starts jumping on you, pawing at you, run away. He should follow. If he
doesn't, you aren't acting silly enough. This teaches the dog to stay with you.
Your dog should be excited to see you and following you around, not the other
way around. If the dog starts to lose interest, get excited and run off. Typical
response from the dog will be, "Hey, what was so fun? Where's Mom going? I want
to see. I want to play!"
In our class, we're also taught many variations of this, including dropping
surprise toys and treats over the dog's head when they aren't paying attention.
The dog suddenly goes "Oh, treat! Where did that one come from? I better start
watching Mom more often."
And don't be afraid to look silly, because humans are normally pretty boring. We
sit at tables, we tend not to move and run, we eat quietly, we don't dig in the
yard, and even we say we're excited, we don't really show it. We don't run
around and jump. It's no surprise that dogs lose interest in us so easily. Your
neighbors might think it's odd that you're fascinated with stuffed animals or
that maybe you really are eating dog treats. If you have to start teaching a
recall by "eating" pet deli and running around the yard, then do it. It'll be
And it can be very hard to control your emotions when you are angry. If that's
the case, just get your dog put him somewhere safe, and go cool off. I know when
I'm upset at my dogs, it's best for me to just not interact with them until I'm
in a better mood. You can't fake emotions with dogs. They're too smart for that.
On Weaning off of Treats:
It could also be a few things. The you might still be using
the food as a lure, instead of a reward. Thus, she might not really understand
the concept yet. Just because a dog performs a behavior doesn't mean that a dog
actually understands the concept. In our new obedience class, we sometimes spend
months (yes, months and months) teaching and proofing small exercises.
You might also try integrating distractions into your training. But you must
keep her focus even with the distractions. I've been taught to either do
something to keep my dog's focus before it has the opportunity to be distracted
OR to reward my dog as we approach distractions. Both requires precise timing.
Also, try moving Thea away from being food motivated to being handler motivated.
She shouldn't pay attention to you ONLY because you have food. She should pay
attention to you because you are her handler. You're more exciting than
distractions, and of course you hold all the food.
You can start this by doing lots of focusing exercises. Then you can move to
replacing food with play and praise.
I'm not a huge proponent of the clicker. I use it occasionally, but it is simply
classically conditioning food with the sound of the clicker so that the dogs
associate positive things with the sound. You can use a marker word just the
same. The advantages of the clicker is that it is consistent, distinct, small
and easy to carry. However, timing with a clicker has to just as precise with
any other method to be used correctly.
Ah.... 18 months, you're still in that teenage stage.
Sometimes that can last until they are 4 years old or longer.
Even if she does do it 95% of the time, that still doesn't necessarily mean she
knows it. She still hasn't been proofed and weaned off the treats.
You're still using the food as a lure. One thing you can try asking your self
is, "If I didn't have food/leash/etc..., would my dog still be performing this
way?" Don't be quick to wean off the treats yet, your dog might not be ready for
it yet. Keep using it if you need it. Training is one of those things that you
can't rush. Dogs will learn at their own speeds.
I personally think there are many stages to actually training a dog. Shaping the
behavior with extrinsic motivation, teaching the concept, proofing the behavior
to distractions, making the behavior intrinsic, and proofing the behavior in
different contexts are just a few of the "mini-stages" of training.
About walking slowly, sometimes I tell Mouse "patience is a virtue....."
Do more focusing work with her. Instead of praising her for walking with you,
try praising her for being focused on you.
Hope this helps. I remember the teenage stage. I don't have fond memories of it.
Yes, Mouse was a teenager until he was 4. Being especially
bouncy and playful might have something to do with it. Other handlers in my
class are always wondering how old my puppy is. I tell them "6, my puppy is 6."
Which, BTW, today is the Dixie X Blaze litter's 6th Birthday. I'm taking Mouse
out for dinner and beers tonight.
As far as the forgetting, I've had many trainers insist that forgetting was a
part of training. This is also one of those stages I talked about before. The
dogs will wake up one day, and it will seem as if they have no idea what you are
talking about. No fear, it is just a phase.
Luring is fine. There's nothing wrong with luring or using food, you just don't
want to use it as a crutch. You might try doing faster focus exercises at first,
then build up focus time, then wean off the treats. You want to make the focus
command quick and almost like a knee-jerk reaction so that the dog doesn't have
time to think. The dog's head should automatically swing up and stare at you.
You want to condition the dog so well on this command that it's second nature.
We've been doing it for about 4 years now, practicing with and without food.
It's one of those exercises you never quit doing. Yes, continue to use food
until she's ready to move onto the next step.
I feel like I'm always going back to basics, especially taking off a year long
hiatus competing with the dogs due to my ankle. I started over with Mouse from
ground zero, reteaching many exercises he already knows. Last week, we started
the sit signal (going from a sphinx drop to a sit position without standing up).
Teaching a dog to sit is about as basic as you can get!
Many dogs that have been competing in obedience or agility routinely go back to
my trainer's beginning competition classes for a refresher.
I only have one Swissy, but I think the retrieving (like
water) is hit or miss with Swissies. My Swissy does water rescue which is based
entirely on retrieves. The dogs retrieve objects, they retrieve people, they
retrieve boats. My Swissy didn't just start doing it right away. We had to train
him to enjoy it, rather than to "just do it." It's a longer process to train
drive and motivation in a dog, but it is well worth it.
I started by playing with the retrieve objects. I'd hold them, talk to them,
play with them, and cuddle them. Yes, I know. In dog training, the humans look
pretty silly much of the time. Then you add reward every time he gave you the
object. That's the short of it anyways.
There are other techniques as well. We had to take a year long hiatus from
everything after my ankle surgery last year, and we started our first real
obedience classes with a trainer who teaches retrieves first. Most exercises in
competitive obediences are based on retrieve or recall. The retrieves all have a
recall built in - when the dog comes back. The foundation of our training is
sending the dog out and coming back. Not only does it teach the dog a process,
but much of it is also muscle memory work. It's a lengthy process, but again,
well worth it.
Here's a video of Mouse retrieving some bumpers. He LOVES bumpers with a
passion. I have to hide them from him. This was taken after 3 hours of water
rescue excellent training last year or the year before. That static in the video
is actually the wind. It was REALLY windy.
For the Newfoundland Club Water Rescue Excellent title, 30 days prior to the
test, the dogs have to take an endurance pretest of non-stop swimming for 5
minutes straight. We passed this portion by taking him out into deep water and
throwing multiple bumpers until time was called.
During the actual test that year, he was bent on retrieving EVERYTHING in the
water. The safety stewards, the distance markers, a floating dog.....
He served as comic relief for everyone else at the test.
On General Dog Stuff:
IMHO, Dog obedience shouldn't be a physical power struggle.
At this age, she should be learning how to behave, not being forced to behave.
You don't want her to learn that you are a demanding, strict, and all around
boring person. You want her to learn that you are the leader who is confident in
himself and doesn't need to resort to physical force to get things done. Humans,
as compared to dogs, are fairly boring and uninteresting. All we do is stand
around, talk, look at each other, talk some more. We rarely run, we rarely dig,
and we're always telling dogs what to do. We don't even like to have our
personal areas sniffed. The few times that we are interesting (usually
unintentionally) is when we're eating, and what we are eating is super yummy.
It's my philosophy that if your dog is paying attention to something else, it's
because there is something else in the environment that is more interesting than
we are. That may be other dogs running around. It may be food that another
person has. It may be toys. Those things distract our dogs, but we as trainers
need to make ourselves even more interesting than those distractions. When dogs
are distracted, it isn't the dog's fault. It's our fault for being dull and
unexciting. Of course, with maturity comes focus in dogs. It takes hours over
years of training to teach a dog to focus.
If you watch some of the advanced competitive obedience teams, you'll see that
the dogs are very focused on their handlers. It is because those handlers took
time, effort, and the energy to make themselves fun during training. In the
ring, that translates into "handler = fun", and dogs focus on fun things.
I'm very green in competitive obedience, but I think the other advanced trainers
in obedience and agility on this forum will probably agree that physical force
probably won't lead to better focus and a compliant dog.
Also, if this is her very first class, it is probably too much to expect from
her at this age and level of obedience. Like Tommy said, I think she needs a
puppy class. Not a class structured for adult dogs, but full of puppies.
I'll get off the laptop now. I just spent the day trying to get some new draft
teams to quit yanking on the leashes so some of that is bleeding over.
On Counter Surfing:
I would begin by crating her or blocking her access to the
kitchen when there is food on the counter. She's already learned that it's okay
to counter surf, as long as you don't get caught. When you do catch her, the
punishment is probably pretty mild in comparison to actually eating whatever it
is she's after.
Like Kim said, prevention is the best policy. But since she's already learned
that she can do it, and she can get away it is (just like people only don't
speed when their radar detectors go off), it will be more difficult.
Also, with correcting her, she might not necessarily know that it is wrong, more
of she's thinking "AUGH, I got caught." Again, it is more difficult to establish
the rule of "no counter surfing" when she's done is before and got away with it.
I would make it a habit that she's not allowed in the kitchen period. I started
with a baby gate blocking off the kitchen. Now, all I have to say is "Are you
supposed to be in here?" I use the same line when my dogs are in rooms they
aren't supposed to be playing in. While Mouse and Basil didn't have a counter
problem, I don't let him in the kitchen because I got tired of finding dog hair
on clean dishes in my dishwasher. We have a hair problem. I shed just as bad as
well. I find my own hair in the freezer from time to time.
Also, the shock collar can be positive punishment or negative reinforcement
depending on how you use it. The term positive in learning refers to an
addition. An added shock from the shock collar or an added treat during training
are both considered positive. Negative is when you take away something from the
learning process. Turning off the shock is negative. Taking away privileges is
On Teaching a Swim:
Swimming with Swissies is hit or miss. Some LOVE water,
some hate it. Some are weird about it. If I'm showering, Mouse is more than
happy to jump in and drink everything. If he's getting a bath, he has that
"Clean water?!?! No WAY!"
I never really introduced Mouse to swimming formally. I did it all wrong too I'm
sure. When he was 8 weeks old, I put him in a pool. I can't say that he was
really enthusiastic about it. I did that a few times a week for a while. He just
started liking it. Luckily, both his sire and dam loved water so it was in the
Terri is correct about really swimming. Dogs that are really swimming, are well,
truly swimming, like a seal. Dogs that panic or start to doggie paddle are not
swimming. You can tell because the paws are going up and down and the rear is
falling. At this point, you'll need to pick up your dog's rear before he starts
to fear the water all together.
Here's a Mouse properly swimming as a 10 week old puppy. You can see that his
front paws are reaching out (not up) to stroke and the rear is held high at the
top of the water and pushes (though you can't see his rear legs in the pic).
I agree with everyone's suggestions. Oftentimes, we'll just play in the water
and whichever dog won't come out to play in the water gets left behind. Swissies
don't like to be left behind.
You can help facilitate the learning curve by holding the dog's rear up as you
get into deeper water. This will teach the dog "oh, so rear goes up to swim."
They just don't know how to swim at first. We also routinely put a flotation
belt on the dog's loin and hip to help keep the dog's rear up during long
One thing to do is to NOT make a big deal about it. If they are a little
hesitant, don't sit there making a huge ordeal about it or else the dogs will
tend to think "swimming is a huge ordeal." Just be confident and low-key. He'll
On Puppy Behavior:
Is there anyone close by who is very experienced with large
dominant breeds? Even a large breed rescue group might be able to help because
they tend to get dogs with behavioral issues. To be a teenager and still
mouthing and pulling on clothes is a HUGE No-No.
With a spray bottle, what did you have in it? I haven't met a dog yet that could
stand the vinegar/water. Even dogs who could drink bitter apple hate the
I'd carry a small bottle around with me and spray directly into the mouth when
he starts mouthing. And it must be immediate. You cannot get up, find the spray
bottle, then try to spray the dog. I've seen people go that route and it turns
into a fun game. Dog gnaws on human, human gets up, and plays chase with a spray
bottle. That's not a correction. That's teaching the dog that gnawing means a
fun game of chase (which maybe why he's play bowing). The correction either
isn't timed correctly or not getting the message through to him that his
behavior is not appropriate. Regular white cooking/cleaning vinegar from the
grocery store will do.
Have you tried the gentle leader in addition to the prong?
Yep, 50/50. I use the same bottle for the dogs that I use
for cleaning the kitchen and mirrors. Some people also use the solution as a
"waterless/shampooless" coat cleaner.
Also, I wouldn't even give a verbal command or even look at the dog before you
give the correction. You want him to associate anytime his teeth come in contact
with human skin or clothes, he gets a nasty taste in his mouth.
Since he is a teenager and especially dominant, he maybe really resistant to the
gentle leader. It is the same prinicple as the off switch my trainer taught us.
When the dog is rowdy, barking, misbehaving, or what not, simply push or hold
down the muzzle until the dog calms. Done correctly it works just like an off
switch. Also works well if you need to dog to focus for a bit.
The gentle leader gives you the ability to put that pressure on the muzzle
rather easily. I use it all the time when I'm grooming uncooperative dogs. In
fact, many of them are the type that have to be sedated in order to be groomed.
The owners are amazed that their dogs can be awake and groomed. A miracle!
Here's a link to how to gentle leader works.
If you want to get the same results without it, I would hold the dog's collar
high up on the neck, and place your hand firmly on the base of the muzzle. Over
the top of the muzzle. If you just want to keep his attention on you, you can
use both hands to rub his cheeks/muzzle and talk to him. Dogs LOVE it.