Friday, February 13, 2015

I'm back!

Ok so here's what happened, and it's totally my bad. I was working one full time job and two part time jobs, plus fostering dogs, taking Mocha to nursing homes (he's a therapy dog now) and volunteering with dog training classes. I was too busy, and forgot all about the blog.

But, now I've made a career change! I quit my day job (which was really stressing me out) to be a piano teacher from home. It's awesome, the best job ever. I love all my students, I love teaching them and I love playing the piano. Here's my website for that: Barford Piano Studio

So, now I have the time to invest into Inspired By Mocha a bit more. I've added some new stuff, like bandanas that slip over the collar. And I made my first knitting pattern to sell. I think the biggest move I've made was opening my own shop independent of Etsy--> Inspired By Mocha

I'm still going to donate 10% of the sales from both the Etsy shop and my independent shop to animal rescue. In honor of Teddy (see the last post), these donations will go to the National Mill Dog Rescue--> Last year I donated $46. I'd like to more than triple that this year. This is my goal for my shop and this blog, to help those puppy mill rescues.

I've done a lot of dog training with Mocha and Ninja over the past year. They both have their CGC (Canine Good Citizen) and Mocha is a certified therapy dog through Therapy Dogs International (TDI). I also helped with puppy and obedience classes at my local dog club, and I got a lot of training experience with our foster dogs last year.

I'd like to share some basic training advice on my blog each week. Simple stuff that you can do at home with your dog. I made a big list of topics this week and had a hard time choosing, but I think the easiest to start with is a recall game you can play at home any time.

Here's how this game works. And it's going to work this way every day for you and your dog from now until forever.

We have a recall word for our dogs. It's a word that they know gets them a treat, no matter when, where, what, how, why, whatever, if I say "Cookie!" they come running for that treat.

You can make this word whatever you want. We thought about making it something silly like "broccoli" or "sassafras," but "cookie" just seemed to fit for our boys.

Step 1: Create the response. Spend a couple days with a few treats in your pockets. When your dog is paying attention to you, hand him/her a treat and say the magic word. (I'm going to use "cookie.") If you do this 5 times in a row 2-3 times a day for a couple days, your dog will start associating "cookie" with getting a treat. Do this for at least three days before moving to step 2.

Step 2: Add a little distance. Have your dog sit and back a few steps away. If your dog doesn't know how to sit and wait for you, then do this when s/he's at the other end of the couch, or when s/he just walks in a room. Say "cookie" and reach out with a treat in your hand. You'll be amazed, your dog will jump right to you. If you dog doesn't respond, go back to step 1 for another day or two.

Do step 2 for a couple days, maybe a week.

Step 3: Hide in the house. Start small here. Go into the kitchen and yell out "cookie." Your dog should come running, and if s/he doesn't, go back to step 2. Make sure you give them the cookie when they come!

Make a game out of this, dogs love games. A couple times a day, when you're in a room and they're not, yell out "cookie."

Step 4: Moving it outside: Doing this in the comfort of your own home is all well and good, but anyone who's done any dog training knows that once you get outside, most of that training goes right out the window. Here's how my husband and I did this (you're gonna need a friend for this part):

Keep your dog on the leash. Go stand in your backyard to start, then move to a park or the front yard once your dog has the hang of this. One person has the dog on the leash, the other takes 10 steps away and faces the dog. Yell out "cookie" as excited as you can. Your dog should come running. Give him/her the treat. Then switch positions. You hold the leash and your friend/husband/partner/whoever takes a few steps away and yells out "cookie."

Just keep increasing the distance. Eventually, you'll be able to have your dog off leash just about anywhere and yell out your recall word and they'll come running.

Here's the catch: Every time you say your recall word, you need to give them a treat. If your recall word is cookie, then every time you say cookie, whether you're saying it to them or in conversation, you'd better give them one. In our house, we say "C-word" for cookie when we're talking about the cookies we eat. Otherwise our dogs are in our face so fast and we have to get off our butts to get them a treat!

Here's Ninja all of 2 seconds after I say cookie.

Try it! Let me know how it goes! And if you have questions or problems, I'll try to help.

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