The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

May 5, 2013

Owners need to learn ‘dog talk’

(Continued)

An owner has to be committed to changing his or her dog’s behavior for the better.

“As dogs become more a part of our life, it’s our job that these dogs set the right example in the public eye,” Chamberlain said, referring to pet-friendly stores and cafes.

Also, everyone wants his dog to be well-behaved when company comes.

Training, however, doesn’t need to be an hour-long intense session. In fact, it’s better to make it fun and to train dogs at convenient times, such as during commercials while watching television. “If you’re going to interact with your dog, you have time to do positive reinforcement,” she said.

Chamberlain has a blue rug in her kitchen where her dog and yes, her cat, stay when she’s cooking. They know they get treats on the rug, and so there’s no reason to sniff around the kitchen for tidbits.

The better the treats, the better the pets work. For example, she likes to give very small samples of hot dogs (cut into 200 pieces), boiled chicken breast, cheese and pasta noodles. Dogs also like baby carrots, canned pumpkin (not pie filling), tomatoes, watermelon, apples, ice cubes and strawberries.

Chamberlain also uses clicker training. The clicker produces a unique noise that’s paired with a food or toy reward. When a dog hears the noise, he knows a “paycheck” is coming.

The clicker is quick — just a second passes between the desired behavior and the noise. Then, the owner has time to hand out a treat.

In one of her classes, the first session is devoted to the owners — without dogs — trying to follow directions while someone else uses a clicker. They put themselves in the dogs’ shoes, and realize what it’s like to do something without understanding the words.

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