Starhawk Alaskan Malamutes Welcomes You to the 'World' of the Malamute



Please Be Patient While These Pages Load.
There is a Tremendous Amount Of Information

These pages are devoted to the training of your dog from before you pick up the
puppy, all the way through Utility training. Contents are copyright of
Christopher Cooper & C & C Publications. Please feel free to use any part of these
writings for personal use only. Reprint or duplication of any kind, for resale or profit,
is strictly prohibited under copyright law. That having been said, please enjoy the
articles. The profile is that of a book, however movement throughout the book is
enhanced using Web Site Characteristics,(hyperlinks).

The hyperlinked topics are basically finished. Un-finished chapters are
listed below the table and will be added over a period of time. I will try to
speed posting of special interest topics. I am constrained by the copyright
time-frame on some articles (they take a while to get back from the
copyright office), and a few chapters are not yet finished.

"The Arctic Breed Obedience Book"
Chapter Heading Date Of Insertion Chapter Heading Date Of Insertion
General Introduction 6-27-97 Changes in Everyday Occurrences 7-5-97
What Type of Dog Do You Want? / Where To Get The Puppy. 7-29-97 Training Obedience & Conformation Showing at the Same Time 7-25-97
Training of People, as Well as Dogs 6-27-97 Training Locations 7-25-97
Who Has Control of Whom 6-27-97 Where Not to Train 7-25-97
Just Before You Pick Up Your New Puppy 6-28-97 When Not to Train 7-25-97
The Breeder 7-1-97 Duration of Exercise Training 7-26-97
How to End Each Training Session 7-30-97 Varying Of Training Locations 7-31-97
Consistency 7-31-97 How to Distinguish and Identify Dog Temperaments 8-10-97
More Chapters And Upcoming Ones
How to Control These Different Temperaments   Inclement Weather Conditions  
Reactions to Different Behaviors   Obedience Rules for A.K.C.  
Other Animals & Distractions   Going Over Your Dog  
Affection and Reward Training   Duration of Exercise Training  
Reactions to Poor Responses   Regimented Training  
Equipment Needed   A Word On Confinement  
What to Expect From Your Dog 1-22-98 Puppy Training  
Differences in Temperaments   Novice Y  
Table Manners   Novice  
Discovering Motion Sickness   Novice B  
Cascade Fading & Domino Effect   Open  
People Mood Swings (coming soon)   Open B  
Dog Mood Swings   Utility  

General Introduction:

Over an untold number of years, there have been hundreds of books, and tens of
thousands of pages written on "Dog Training". These books have tried to deal with
just about every aspect and style of training imaginable, from puppy training, to
advanced obedience; from house breaking, to guard dog training; from field trial
training, to narcotic sniffing; from hunting, to seeing eye dog training; and on infinite.
Dog training is nothing new. It's been around for centuries, and includes the training
of specialized breeds for specific purposes, (the dogs we today call Purebred). Take a
couple of examples; the Russian Wolf Hound, was bred specifically for hunting Wolves
over large expanses with speed and endurance in mind; the Alaskan Malamute, was
bred with stamina and strength for draft pulling in frozen wasteland, for long distances,
with little food. The Siberian Husky and other specialized breeds were also developed
for specific purposes, and all-around uses.

These, and all other Purebred dogs were developed over long periods of time. Even with
their inbred instinct for the tasks for which they were designed, they still needed training.
Even though a dog was bred and born to perform certain tasks, and their make-up was
such that they were basically designed to perform them, you would not expect for example,
a sled dog puppy to emerge with a complete understanding and working knowledge of the
commands necessary to turn, stop, start, and execute the myriad of directions it will need
to take as soon as it is harnessed to a sled. Add to that, each and every one of them were
trained to be better than someone else's dog at their respective trade.

Each and every trainer over the centuries has tried new, innovative, sometimes mind
boggling, cutting edge, and often-times simplified techniques in their attempt to train
their dogs newer and better things to perform. How can anyone expect a puppy, or any
dog for that matter to understand the concept of "house breaking", unless humans take
the time to "explain" it to them and teach all that they will need to know to live "sociably"
and in a "civilized" manner. Many people believe that to be in fact a viable solution, and
when the dog does not catch on, blame the pitifully, inept, four-legged creature's problems
on its breeders, gene pool, and any other excuse they can come up with. I will tell you now,
that any dog can be trained to be an enjoyable friend and companion with all the social
graces you require, if you are willing to put in the time and energy needed to get the results
you desire.

Some of the best trainers in the world probably have never, and will never write a book, run
a training class, or even let someone else know the secrets to their successes over the years.
Reasons vary, some are reluctant to give-up, hard fought for knowledge, some are trying to
keep their edge on competitors, (and believe me, there is fierce competition out there in many
fields), others are too busy training, still others have aptitudes for training but not putting their
ideas across to others, and so on. The point is, not any one single person, has all the answers
on any one of the thousands of subjects on training. Thus, the multitude of books, magazines,
newsletters, and other literature on dog training, and the reason people read as much as
possible on the specific topic of their training. If one technique or method does not work, then
perhaps the one next will. If a technique worked for dog 'A' and not for dog 'B', then maybe a
different approach will work this time.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to quickly discover that each dog is different, in many ways,
from every other. Dog 'B' for example, does not respond to a particular training technique in
the same way, or with the same speed, with even possibly with the same alertness as dog 'A'
does. Incorrectly, most would rather believe that there is something wrong with dog 'B'. He or
she is not as intelligent, is from a different liter, or was maybe even the runt of the liter and was
cheated on brains as well as size. Nothing could be further from the truth. Some breeds are
inherently easier to train than others, but due to many factors. None of them are attributable
to a lack of intelligence. Lack of aptitude for a particular task, lack of physical ability for a
particular exercise, a differing amount of stubbornness between breeds, and a trainers lack
of determination, and ability to understand and deal with these various problems in a positive
way, are usually the culprits behind failure. Remember, the term "trainer" means, everyone
who tries to teach a dog anything, and that means you! You probably wouldn't be looking for
answers in a literary publication if everything was fine, or you need direction from the beginning
up, and I'm sure this is not your first dive into the subject.

Well, anyway, here you are, reading yet another book (article) on how someone else thinks they
know how to train your dog better than the last person. The possibilities for your interest in this
subject, beyond the one listed above, are boundless. Lets see..... new dog owner that needs to
learn how to train a dog from scratch?, beginner trainer wanting to pick up new tips?, long time
veteran trainer making sure I'm not making stupid mistakes in this book (article)?, avid
professional trainers that have a seemingly impossible problem, looking for the improbable
answer?, puppy owners desperately looking for clarification of the reason they bought this
four-legged 50 pound termite, goat, what-ever?

No one, and I distinctly mean, no one, has all the answers, no matter what they tell you in person,
or in publications. First, they don't know your dog, "personally". That's to say , they don't have a
clue as to your particular dogs, temperament, background, genetics, up-bringing, living conditions,
and the like. Even if you tell a personal trainer all this information, they still do not really know your
dog like you do. About the closest you can get to having someone (other than yourself) understand
exactly what you are facing with a problem, is to have either the trainer in a class situation, who has
worked extensively with you and your animal, or a private personal trainer that trains your dog for
you or with you, work the problem along with you.

So, to be succinct, this book (article) will try, and hopefully succeed, in bringing the understanding
that to actually comprehend your dog, (you know, the one you want to stop lifting his leg on your
neighbor) is of paramount importance (above all else), in any training, problem solving, etc. To tell
the truth, if you truly understand your dog, his or her moods, and your own, most problems will not
occur, and when they do, they are much more manageable.

To begin with, we will be dealing with what most dog owners take for granted. They are what I call
ground rules to any training program or individual session. Having a grasp of these particular rules
and guidelines will help you and your dog come to terms with the concept of training. Who knows,
maybe with an open mind, even the most skeptical will pick up a new twist on a very old profession.
To this endeavor I will begin.

Back To Chapter Headings

What Type of Dog do You Want? Where To Get Your Puppy

There are many right ways to acquire a puppy. There are even more ways not to buy one.
I'm sure you have heard tales of friends that got a puppy from a friend of a friend that just
happened to have a litter of puppies available for the right price. Or the pet store that has
some of the cutest little puppies in the window and your friend tells you that you just can't
wait, they will be gone soon.

Well, take pause in your impatient rush to find the cutest and cuddliest dog that is irresistible.
Lets look first at what you are interested in. Ask yourself the following basic but all important
questions before getting hooked. After reading the questions, look at the the list of specifics
for each question which follows immediately after the question list.

1) Do you like large dogs, small dogs, or any specific range in size?

To answer this you not only have to ask yourself what your preference along this line
is, but also some of the following: Is the dog going to be an indoor or outdoor animal,
and depending on which answer, how much time, if any will the dog spend inside your
house? Do you have the right size vehicle for transporting?

2) If so how large is too large?

Larger breeds of dogs tend, not to live as long as smaller ones. This is not a consideration
of larger breeds (I happen to have Alaskan Malamutes which are on the large side), but
rather a point in fact. Even this can become a consideration in a purchase. If children are
entered into the formula, they will need to be brought to understand this. There is a big
difference for a child in a dog's passing after only 11 years rather than say 18 or 20. There
is a much greater chance of the children still being young when this happens.

3) Do you have the capacity in living space and yard for a
particular size or breed of dog?

Are you in an apartment, condo, etc. that even allows animals? Don't make the mistake of
many and go against rules laid out by your landlord, and agreed to by you. These animals
almost always find there way to a shelter or booted out when the option of get rid of the dog,
or get evicted is presented to the tenant. Make sure your C.C.& R.'s, and any other codes
that regulate you in this manner, allow the particular animal you are bringing home. A lot of
grief and resentment can be avoided.

Is the yard fenced? Is is fenced adequately? Is the breed of dog you are bringing home
known for digging, tunneling, or prone to need to get out and roam? If so make sure your
yard is escape proof beyond the normal, or you will be chasing your dog around the

Types of fencing differ greatly from one to another. Block walls, if high enough, are virtually
escape proof. Fences such as chain link, wood paling, concrete paneled wood look alike, and
wrought iron are good, but can be dug under between the foundations of the posts which hold
them up. Placing concrete runner strips or footings between the posts will prevent most dig-outs.

Ask the breeder or seller what to expect from your puppy when it grows up. Some dogs can
chew through smaller gauge chain link fences, some are small enough to fit between wrought
iron rails, some were genetically bred to tunnel after rodents and the like, negating a shallow
strip of concrete or curb (not a standard wall footing), and get out, some are legitimate high
jumpers and can either clear or scale walls of inadequate height. You can spend a lot of money
for a puppy, and it can escape easily, within a very short time, if you are not prepared.

4) Do you like short hair, wire hair, long hair?

All these questions pertain to not only your willingness to care for (as in bathing and brushing
a long coated dog, or picking up hairs all over your furniture and carpet all the time), but also
relate to your ability to even keep a certain size dog. Consider the restrictions that would be
placed on the dog should you not allow enough room.

5) Is the dog going to spend any time at all in the house, and if so is there
enough room?

Certain breeds require more than just the area, the inside of a house can offer. It is important
to understand which breeds these are. It is equally important to make preparations are in place,
to care for a house dog. Indoor dogs must have a way to egress the building on their own
volition. Fire or other disasters can befall your home while you are away, and the dog must
have a way to escape possible death.

6) Is shedding going to be a problem? (and be honest)

The importance of this can be elusive at times. If you are a neatnick, you can drive yourself
crazy picking up hair all day. Anything that you think may not bother you now, may become
unbearable over time. It happens all the time, in every facet of daily life. I mention this now,
because we are dealing once again, with another life. A life that is directly affected by you.
A life that can not help itself out of a problem, you get it into. The streets and pounds are
full of dogs that people "thought they could take care of with no problem", only to find out
that cleaning up, or some other thing was too much to continue with. Sometimes it just became
a chore to be forgotten. If I can get just one person to take a second look, admit that the
possibility exists, and not purchase a dog for those reasons, I can take pride in possibly
helping to save another dog before Rescue has to become involved.

7) What temperament are you looking for, wired, calm, aloof, etc.?

With the above section in hand, please apply this question with equal fervor. You must find
a dog with a compatible temperament to yours, or the one you honestly care for. Remember,
you will have to live with it for a long time.

8) Will the dog be too much for your kids as it grows?

If you have toddlers, or any young children, they will grow at a substantially slower rate
than a large breed dog. The puppy that is only 10 inches tall at the shoulder and 15 pounds
now, may be 28 inches and 130 pounds in 6 to 9 months. Your one year old is not going
have that kind of a growth spurt. This is not an indication that a larger breed dog is not
the answer. It is only mentioned to lend more thought to the consideration of choices.
Now is the time to consider all the options.

9) What age puppy do you think will best suit your situation?

As stated before, large breed, small puppies grow fast. If you think that this is a potential
problem, you might be considering a more mature dog to start with. Be sure in your choice
of an older puppy, that there is no excess baggage to be brought along with it. If the dog
was mistreated, or neglected, it might have some undesirable characteristics hooked to it's

10) Do you plan on taking the dog traveling or in the car a lot?

Larger dogs require more room, hence larger vehicles. For the safety of the dog, and
yourself and passengers, it is always best to place your dog in an approved (proper size)
crate for traveling. Safe for the dog because, in sudden turns, stops, starts, or an accident
the dog can be thrown into objects that can impale, windows, and people. Dogs have been
known to be thrown out of open windows. Objects in the car being thrown around in a
accident can injure a dog that is not confined. Safe for people because, a lose dog being
thrown around in a car, can impair the drivers ability to control the car safely. There are
special restraints for cars on the market for dogs riding without use of a kennel.

Have a pickup truck? Plan on caring the dog in an approved crate in the back, NOT lose.
Anyone planning on leaving their dog lose in the back of a pickup truck, please stop
reading now. You will not like my thoughts on much of anything, if your mentality runs
in that direction. I, and many others, are tired of dodging dog carcasses in the road, left
behind by people that don't have the time to care for a dog properly, and don't care about
the dog because, after all, they can just go out and get another one. What's the big deal,
right? Sorry for the sarcasm.

11) Are you looking for a watch dog?

Certain breeds were bred for this purpose, others are not. The ones that are not, usually
do not make good watch dogs. If you are looking for this specific trait, be sure to narrow
your search to those breeds that were meant to perform this task.

12) Are you looking for a guard dog?

The application noted above, stands true for this question as well. It takes a special
temperament to be a guard or attack dog. The breeds that were not specifically designed
to perform these task should not be pressed into this type of service. Chances are too
great that they will not perform to your expectations, and they will be in search of a new
home again soon. Do your homework on the breed of dog best suited to your purposes.

13) Are you just interested in a companion or pet?

In asking what kind of dog you are in search of, the previous questions are of little
consequence, if you are not sure what your main purpose in acquiring one is. The range
in personalities, temperaments, purposes, uses, and sizes is far reaching. Most breeds
can fit into the category of companion or pet. There are however, some breeds that are
not as even tempered, (or should I say adjusted) to be the perfect pet. Again, another
example of the importance of investigating thoroughly. If you are as diligent in your
research for the right dog, as most people are in their quest for the right vehicle, at
the right price, you will probably have no problem.

14) Is the dog going to have access to other animals at your home?

Another area of concern should be any other pets or animals you have at home. Depending
on the breed, and the types of other pets, there is the potential for conflict. When talking
with breeders, inform them of any other pets in the house, or animals, (horses, etc.) that
may come in contact with the dog. They should be able to give you invaluable information
on socializing certain types of animals and their particular breed of dog. If you have a
house cat, be prepared to introduce the new dog properly. (There are books on that as well!)

15) Can you afford everything that goes into this venture?

Down to basics. If you can't afford the things necessary to maintain a dog, now is not the
right time to be looking for one to purchase. There are many un-for-seen costs, even
though you may think you have thought of everything. Below is a list of many of them.
It is not meant to be a complete list:

  • Scheduled Veterinary visits
  • Vaccinations
  • Food
  • Escape proof fencing / kennel runs, etc.
  • Dog house
  • Dog door
  • Food & water containers
  • Car accessories
  • Leashes, collars, etc.
  • Licenses and / or registrations
  • Additional cost to travel expenses
  • Boarding
  • Grooming
  • Grooming supplies
  • Obedience classes
  • Additional insurance (if coverage is not included)

16) Do you take a lot of vacations and trips, and if so is the dog
staying behind or going with you?

If you plan on being gone much of the time, you can not take the new dog along,
and you have to board, I suggest you wait until such time as you can be home for
the new dog. The boarding kennel is no place for a newly acquired pet. If your plans
include the dog on trips and vacations, be prepared. Longer trips usually require
adjustment to the extended travel. Work the dog up to the longer distances. Car
sickness is not uncommon, so be ready for that contingency. Take ample food
and water along for the duration of the trip if possible. Some dogs do not handle
changes in water very well, and intestinal disorders are not unusual when they
are forced to drink water they are not accustomed to. This can make you trip
rather unpleasant. Make arrangements for accommodations for the dog well in
advance of the trip, including a place for the dog to stay when you're attending
events or attractions where they can not go.

17) Are there areas to take the dog to, and if not are you willing to
take the time to drive to them?

Dogs, especially larger breeds, need exercise. If there are no places within walking
distance for this purpose, you will need to make arrangements to drive them. This is
something else to consider in you research. Find the shortest way to get to the training
locations to make things easier on you. This is a long term project. Any real inconvenience
will grow old, real fast. Once again, be honest in your assessment of what you are willing
to do over the long haul. This is a long term commitment.

18) Have you read anything or know anything about the breed of dog
you are thinking of getting?

Research is the very best friend you can have. Before choosing a particular breed,
read everything you can get your hands on. Ask friends and relatives that have or
have had a certain breed, questions. Pick their brains. Find out all you can. Call
rescue's for the breeds you are interested in. Find out why most of the dogs that
wind up, got there in the first place. Is is something special about the breed that
some people can not handle? Time to find out before you are committed.

19) Have you talked to breeders about the type of dog?

Discuss your concerns, ask questions, and probe deeply into the knowledge base of
the breeders. Not just one or two breeders, as many as you can find. Weigh the information.
Believe me, it will be different to some degree or another, from one breeder to another.
You will have to be the judge of the veracity of the information.

Back To Chapter Headings

Training of people as well as dogs:

We would all like to think that we can pick up a leash, snap it on a dog's choke collar and
begin training. Veterans are usually very qualified to do this, and in many instances can
finish up with a product (finished trained dog), that is acceptable, even excellent. In most
instances however, this is not advisable for the balance of the population.

First we must look to ourselves. In that, I mean a serious and honest assessment of what
we know of ourselves, and what we can expect from our own experiences in control of our
temper, emotions, and body movements. It is blatantly unfair to your dog to take him or
her out to train, before you can control yourself in such a fashion, so as not to screw the
dog's mind up big-time.

Unless your a choreographer, dance professional, or in some other line that gives you
complete, total, and unswerving control of your body in any given situation you fling it
into, you need practice, and lots of it. Every motion you make with every part of your
body it interpreted by your dog in some way. If you don't know how your dog was raised
(by someone else), or what your puppy has had to respond to in it's short lifetime, you are
already at a disadvantage. Take for example a 1 year old dog you just got from the pound,
animal shelter, etc. If this dog was mistreated or abused in any way, you will have to
determine the underlying problem and find a way to circumvent it first. If for further
example, the dog had been beaten by a past owner with his or her hands, for various
reasons, (for which the dog still does not have the slightest understanding as to the
actual reasons) this dog may be what is termed "hand shy". This dog may shy away
from certain hand movements you make, even in petting him.

Puppies that shy away as you reach down to pick them up, may have had a frightening
experience in the first weeks of their lives that precipitates this cautious behavior. You
must discover the problem, whatever it is, and deal with it before continuing training, if
it has started to interfere with any part of the teaching process.

In other chapters you will discover more and more, the connection between what you do
and the limitations your actions place on the ability to train your dog.

Back To Chapter Headings

Who has control of whom?

To be fair from the onset, to yourself and your dog, you must first make up your mind
that this is what you want to do, i.e.: train this animal. You must be willing to commit to
continuous training, even when you are not formally out training, tedious repetition,
and yes, sometimes, even demeaning actions in the public eye. In other words if you
can not see yourself making nice with your dog in public in order to give needed praise,
or let yourself get in an awkward position which would be noticed by others because it
would be embarrassing, then training is not for you. In fact, unless you are willing to do
this, or have someone else train the dog for you, you are in for possibly years of problem
behavior from your dog, and the fact is you should not even have a dog. These types of
problems usually result in "owners" turning the dog out on it's own, giving the dog to
the local pound, having difficulty with neighbors in noise control, biting incidents, etc.

This is especially true when a pet is given as a gift to anyone, but particularly a child.
Unless there is complete understanding of the responsibilities, hard work, continual
every-day, many times boring aspects of owning and caring for this new pet, there
will be problems. Unfortunately, the majority of the problems are for the poor
unsuspecting animal. Humans can just, "get rid of the problem" and go on with their
respective lives, if the situation becomes uncomfortable. The dog on the other hand
has very few options, and all of them are given by the owners in the outcome of their
decision based on their options. Lets look at a few options the owners have. The pound,
let the dog lose to fend for itself, keep the dog and let it do what it wants-punishing it
whenever it does wrong,.

Well, now, lets consider the dogs options.

The pound (shelter); dog, if very lucky is discovered by some loving human and taken to
a new home and lives happily ever-after, (not very likely, and not very often), dog is
discovered, taken to a new home (not much better than the first). and cycles through
to the pound once again or on to one of the other human options. The dog is not discovered
by anyone and in a very short, few days is put to death, (lovingly referred to as "put to
sleep")Let the dog lose; great options here for the dog, it gets to roam the neighborhood,
and winds up hit by a vehicle and becomes road kill, chased from one trash can to another,
joins a pack of other dogs living a life of hunger, disease. infestation, and eventual painful
lonely death, or gets picked up by the animal shelter to be processed once again through
the system and sent through those terrible but few options. There is one other alternative
to the hit by a vehicle option mentioned above, not dead, meaning hurt, crippled, in pain
with no care, no veterinarian, no medication, etc.

Keep the dog and punish it when it does what you feel is not appropriate; this option also
gives the dog great latitude in it's own range of options. It can continue to be ignorant of
just what the human (who does not have the time or patience to teach it) considers to be
right or wrong behavior and be confronted daily with a beating, or some other form of
punishment, for the wrong behavioral response or action, or it can run away to escape
the unpleasant situation, thus displacing it to the same realm of options afforded it in
the "Let the dog lose" scenario.

Wow! are we all up for those set of choices. Well, every minute of every hour of every
day, some people do just those things. Aren't homosapiens something else? Even as you
read this, somewhere, someone is mistreating a dog in some way due to the inability and
unwillingness to address the simplest of questions:

  • Do I Want A Dog?
  • Can I Take Care of A Dog?
  • Do I Have The Time to Take Care Of A Dog?
  • Am I Willing To Give Up many hours to train this dog to socially reside with me
    and other people?
  • Am I willing to continue with a long time commitment to the training process?
  • Do I have the room for a dog and the proper area to keep it?
  • Do I have the temperament needed to train the dog without blowing it's mind,
    along with mine?
  • Do I have the control of temper, and temperament necessary to train, especially
    if things should get difficult?

You should ask yourself these questions right now, and answer them honestly. As a long
time breeder, I do, of every potential puppy buyer that comes around. And after all the
questions above, along with many more, including, financial ability, safety of the area of
domicile for the dog, etc., I still leave the buyer with an option not considered in the
equations mentioned above, I demand in contractual writing the "First Right of Refusal".
In simple terms it gives the breeder, (me), the first choice to take the dog back (should
the owner decide to part ways with the dog for any reason, i.e.: hardship, location change,
etc.), before anyone else, and before any other option is set into motion. The dog then has
a fighting chance, as time is taken to find the best home once again. If the right home
can not be found, the dog remains with us, taken care of. In this way I am reasonably
assured that any puppy I bring into the world will not wind up in the pound or homeless.
(unfortunately I can't be 100% assured).

Dogs, as gifts, are even more susceptible to the "options" of humans. Most are given
with the greatest of intentions and affection, but without consideration of the listed
questions above. The responsibility taken on in the every day care of a dog is large,
but for a child, it's enormous, and oft-times overwhelming. Even the most ambitious
of children many-times become bored, and left feeling tied down to the dog and thus
taking frustrations out on the animal, and the only one to suffer is, guess who?, the
dog. It's a special child that will do what he or she says when it comes to continual
care for an animal. It is the parent that must exercise the final control and make the
determination to bring one into the family, and then monitor the ongoing situation,
and be willing and able to take over the care and maintenance should that time come
about. So, ask yourself the questions, as well as your child, before making the choice,
and above all, be honest to yourself and the dog. Remember, most kids know only
what they feel and want right now, and can not even dream of not being able to care
for the animal, let alone foresee the possible consequences.

You have complete control over the dog at this point in time, and you place its life
in your hands just as surely as if it were your own.

I think I've dwelled on this topic long enough. I'm sure you get the point by now.
Please pass it along to friends and family, so they can pass it on, and so on. Maybe,
just maybe, a dog somewhere will benefit from it. Thanks.

Back To Chapter Headings

Just before you pick up your new puppy.

Now that you have gotten past the starting point, which is making your decision to get
and train a puppy, (and by the way congratulations) and you have purchased everything
the breeder told you that you needed, i.e.: what kind of food, leash, collar, I.D. tag, etc.,
its time to get past those few basics and make sure you have taken care of every thing
else the new puppy will need just before you take it home.

Some of the items listed here may not be applicable to you, since you may already have
them or done them, but you will know as you read which ones they are. Also, the breeder
you are dealing with should have given you, or will give you when you pick the puppy up,
some of these items. If you get the puppy home, and you do not have the following, you
should contact your breeder for direction.

1) Have the breeder provide you with copy of their contract for your review.

2) Obtain a copy of the breeder's recommendations for care of the particular breed of
dog you are buying. Many breeds have their own special needs which are peculiar to them.
Also ask the breeder for a list of food, supplements, vitamins, etc. that the puppy has been
on, so that you can get them, before you get the puppy, and continue the administration.

3) Obtain a copy of a Certified Pedigree for your puppy, to check it's lineage.

4) Obtain a complete record of the shots the puppy has received since birth. Included in
that health record should be any abnormalities or problems the puppy has had, steps taken
in the treatment of same, and any veterinary visits, along with the name and address of the
Veterinarian used.

5) After checking with close friends, acquaintances, Chamber of Commerce in your area,
Better Business Bureau, and any other outlets you might have, choose a Veterinarian
(if you don't already have one). Check with the Veterinarian to see if he or she is well
versed in treating the particular breed you have bought. Some Vets specialize in many ways,
and may not know your breed, in the same manner as a Veterinarian that treats large animals
may not be skilled in treating birds or reptiles. Don't feel locked into one veterinarian. If your
dog comes up with something that your regular vet can not diagnose or seem to treat to your
satisfaction, get a second opinion. You can learn from this that certain vets are excellent in
certain areas, i.e.: one is better than another in diagnosis, or skin disorders, or x-rays, etc.
(Gee, just like regular Doctors) No one doctor or veterinarian has all the answers and is
completely knowledgeable on all aspects of every field, and they nor you, should feel the
least bit embarrassed about taking your dog to someone else for certain things.

6) Enclosed, secured, escape proof yard. Don't let yourself become one of those that give
continual excuses for the dogs escape, and tout your dog's exceptional prowess and ingenuity
in it's ability to escape. Yards and dog runs can be made escape proof, and at surprisingly
little effort and low cost, (cost and effort depends on the size and breed of dog). If you think
your dog can escape and wants to roam, he will escape. Just because you train your dog in
the rudimentary socially acceptable manners, does not mean it will not be enticed into "coming
out to play" with other dogs, if so implored.

7) Put away anything and everything you do not want the puppy to get into, ruin, chew, urinate
on, etc., inside the house and outside. The puppy will do it for a short time until training starts.
Make sure that all chemicals, liquids, powders, and solids that the puppy can gain access to are
put away and locked up. Block off all areas you do not want the puppy to gain access to. If you
have kids, does any of this sound familiar? It's exactly the same. They can and will get into
everything, pick up everything, put everything that will or will not fit into their mouths (only
puppies chew it better). and if not for the sake of diapers, urinate on everything.

8) Make a plan and inform the family of it for retrieval of your pet during an emergency,
such as fire, earthquake, etc.

9) Purchase chew toys and rawhide bones (if the breeder approves), that will not be swallowed
and choked on by the puppy. Do not give your puppy a play sock, (unless it has a large knot
tied in it), a play shoe, slipper, or anything else that even begins to resemble any of the things
you do not want your puppy to chew on. The puppy does not know the difference and training
will become next to impossible, not to mention the confusion the puppy will go through.

10) Purchase or build a bed for the puppy, or at least make a place that is only for the puppy
where the puppy knows it can go without reservation. (and I don't mean having to make
reservations before going).

11) Choose a place for the bed and keep it there. Don't move it all over the place trying to
decide after the puppies' arrival where to put it, it will be confusing. Later, when the puppy
knows it's at your home to stay, and feels accepted and comfortable (days or weeks from now),
you can move it all you want).

12) Find an outlet that carries the brand and type of food that your dog's breeder
recommended, and have it at home when the puppy arrives. Some breeders give you a
small portion of the food they use to take home with the puppy, just to be sure you give
it the same stuff they have been feeding. This small amount runs out quickly, and if your
like most people, that is when you will go out in search of more food. This, unfortunately,
oft-times only serves to frustrate you, since you may not be able to find that particular
type or brand in the first 12 stores you go into. Unfortunate is a word that best describes
the terrible gastro intestinal upset your new puppy will have when you bring home, and feed
it the substitute food you found after giving up on the primary one. Without at least a week
to change over a food product from one to another gradually, your puppy will not only have
the worst night of its short life, but it will probably give you one of yours as well. The whining,
crying, and diarrhea which ensues this instant change of diet will not endear this puppy to you,
believe me.

13) If the breeder is some distance from your home, chances are that they are supplied water
by a different agency than you. This difference in water can also be a stomach twister for a
puppy. Take a large container with you when you pick the puppy up and ask the breeder if
you can fill it to take home with you. (Be prepared for the shock on the breeders face, they
don't get requests that take that much consideration for the puppy into account). Over the
next several days, wean the puppy off the breeder's water a little at a time, same as on food
change-over. i.e.: 1st day, give only the breeder's water, (remember, the puppy is in partial
shock from being displaced to new surroundings and people, and is already under great stress.
It does not need immediate changes in other aspects as well); 2nd day, 7/8ths breeder's water
and 1/8th your water; 3rd day, 3/4 breeder's water and 1/4 your water, and so on, until the
change over is complete. That's about 8 or 9 days. Keep a written record to not only keep
track of each day, but for reference later should the need arise. Your puppy and family should
thank you for what you did not put them through.

14) Buy, and keep up to date, a complete medical record book for vaccinations, procedures,
treatments, medicines used, prescriptions filled, vet visits, etc. Keep notes on any allergies,
skin disorders, and anything that effects your puppy's health for the rest of its life.

15) Secure a place for your puppy when you are not home, either in the yard mentioned earlier
or in the house. Be sure that where ever it is that the puppy will be able to get in out of the
elements when needed. Heat, Cold, Rain, Direct sun, High wind, and any other adverse
weather condition should be considered dangerous at any time you are not there to keep
a watchful eye on the puppy's condition. If the puppy can get out of the elements itself,
it will. When making preparations for this, take the following into account. If you lock your
puppy up in the house when you leave (with the fondest of intentions to say, keep it cool on
a hot summer's day). and do not provide for access to the outside through a dog door or
some other means, you have in essence consigned your puppy to death in the event of
a house fire.

Back To Chapter Headings

The Breeder

I won't dwell on this topic long. The only way to buy a Pure Bred dog, is from a reputable
Breeder. Not a Pet Store, Not the kid on the corner with cute puppies, Not the neighbor
that just had a litter from his Big dog and his friends nice bitch. There's no excuse to not
buy from a reputable breeder, they're all over the place.

Back To Chapter Headings

Changes in Everyday Occurrences

Dogs are not unlike people in many respects., Arctic breeds especially, appear to
become bored with repetition more quickly. If you can't make it interesting and
different from time to time, you may lose their attention. They seem to almost
have a need, to know the reason for having to learn certain things. There are
several methods or ideas to inject different and interesting training procedures
to help keep your dog enthused.

Starting out with a regimented schedule is great. When beginning training with a
new dog, this is the best way to proceed. Keep to a specific time of day as much
as possible at first. Also keep to certain days of the week. This will help to put
your dog at ease with this new part of his / her life, and actually give the dog
something to look forward to each time that particular time of day or day of week
approaches. (If your keeping the training fun, they will look forward to it.) This
should be implemented for approximately the first three weeks. We are assuming
here that you are starting your dog in basic training, and teaching heeling from
scratch. If this is the case, heeling can become boring, real fast. Sitting, starting,
left turn, right turn, and reverse. How many variations on a theme can you present,
once the dog has it down good? Well, actually many variations, and your dog will
need them now.

Start changing the time of day, the days of the week, the duration of the training
session. (When changing the time of day, it is important to remember some special
items. Please see the chapter on "When Not To Train" for details.) Changing the
days of the week will put your dog on notice that this can happen at almost any time,
and make them more aware. Duration of the training session is important, from
several aspects. For our purposes here, suffice to say, it is breaking up the monotony
of the same amount of training time each day, and hopefully, keeping them from looking
forward to the end of the session. As an analogy, some kids that are not learning
something new in the school class room, and are in the room the same amount of time
each day, start to watch the clock or look forward to the class being over, more than
what is going on in the class. (For further specifics please see the chapter on
"Duration of Exercise Training")

Today walk to the training area, tomorrow drive to it, next time, run to it. Change
the location of the training. Empty parking lots, shopping centers, parks, dry riverbeds,
etc. are great for breaking up the training boredom. It will also allow you to instill the fact
that you require obedience anywhere the dog is taken. This is a major mistake of many.
Your dog will only understand what you teach it. If you only train at the park on the end of
the block, then you are teaching them to obey only in the park at the end of the block. As
far as the dog's concerned, everywhere else is fair game for fun.

This type of non-structure is also beneficial to you when taking your dog to shows, trials,
and traveling. A more well rounded dog with less intimidation for new surrounding and
activities is always a plus, and aids in the training even more. Let your dog experience
different conditions of all kinds, and they will pay more attention to you during training,
and less time scoping out the worrisome new intruder or change in environment. More
distraction during training is good, as long as your dog is still concentrating on you.

Use different leashes, and keep them in different places in the house. Don't let your dog
know when you are going training by heading to the same place every time, to pull out
the leash. It creates a Pavlov dog effect. That's not what we're looking for here. We
want the dog to be spontaneous in reaction, not regimented. The only regimen we are in
search of, is the obedience to your commands. Don't let them become used to just one
leash. What happens when the leash is worn out and useless, or you lose it?

Back To Chapter Headings

Training Obedience & Conformation Showing at
the Same Time

The only leash that you should use on a regular basis, is the one you show the dog
with in conformation. The shorter, thinner, less conspicuous type is for shows, and
the dog will come to recognize the difference. The old adage that "You will screw
up the dog and never accomplish anything in obedience or conformation, if you do
them both at the same time", is ridiculous.

If you don't have the proper time to spend nor the energy to exert, in training for
both at the same time, DON'T. It really is not all that difficult though, and may
pay off for you in the end. There are times, when it is beneficial to start showing
you dog in conformation at a particular time. If you're in the middle of a training
course, and your dog suddenly looks like this is the time to start showing (due to
maturity, looks, etc.), then that's what needs to be done.

As indicated previously, the dog will learn the difference between a show leash
and a training leash. This, with practice, will allow the dog to remember not to sit
when stopping in the conformation ring, etc. It will not cause the dog any anxiety,
or confusion, if it is introduced correctly. Train some days with the show leash.
Take your dog for a walk with the show leach attached and the obedience leash in
your pocket, out of sight. Teach your dog to not sit when stopping. Practice this a
few times. Each time, before starting off, show the leash to your dog, and make sure
it is noticed. Then switch leashes, and train to heel. Again, showing the leash first,
each time. Don't do any other exercise, only walking and heeling. After several times,
switching the leashes and practicing with each, your dog will learn the difference,
and begin to understand.

Back To Chapter Headings

Training Locations

As indicated previously, your locations of training should change as often as possible
once you have finished the initial process of getting your dog comfortable with the
training procedures. There are certain rules to follow, which can make your training
sessions go much easier, and also help to keep your dog interested and attentive.

Socialization is of primary importance in any training. You need to look for places
where your dog has the opportunity to be distracted, and at the same time be safe.
This is not as difficult as it seems, but sometimes takes a little creativity on your
part. This is especially true, depending on your location, and access to particular
areas to train.

Let's take for an example, a shopping center. Great place, many distractions, people
to socialize with (only when you invite your dog to do so), noisy, confusing, multiple
activities, etc., to either interact with, or ignore. (Again, only as you prescribe.) This
type of location is usually next to parking lots, auto traffic, bicycles, foot traffic, and
lose animals (dogs - cats). Great training place, as long as training is restricted to on
leash work only. Off leash work should only be done in a closed, secure location.

To train for off leash work in a busy, dangerous area, such as a shopping center, parking
lot,and similar places, use of a light-line is recommended. This should be of a material
that the dog will not readily know is attached to the collar, and yet be easy for you to
handle. A fine filament, high tensile strength fishing line usually works, as long as care
is taken at all times in respect to location of the line (in-attentiveness can lead to the line
rapping around the neck or other areas). Also, it is wise to wear gloves, to keep your
hands from being cut. Remember, you may need to exert some force at some point in time
for control in an unexpected situation. Always be prepared for these unexpected situations,
no matter how well your dog is trained.

Time of day should be a consideration as well. People have an internal clock, which make
certain times of the day better than others, for being sociable, learning, etc. Dogs have
something similar. One dog may be more susceptible to training "suggestions" in the
morning, and another later in the day. You will have to determine where your own dogs
peak trainable periods are, and adjust accordingly.

Now your all saying, wait a minute, when I enter an obedience trial, they're not going to
accommodate my dogs best time of day to let me test. That's true, but we're speaking of
training here, not obedience trials or matches. We're still back in the training mode.
After your dog has been worked for a few weeks, you can start to move the times around,
and train even in their off periods.

The suggestion of training during their peak times, is for the start of training, and will
help immensely with the training process. If you make it easier for your dog, it will be
more fun. If it's more fun, they will enjoy doing it more. If they enjoy doing it more they
will learn faster. If they learn faster, it will not become boring, and you will feel better
about the training. If you feel better, your dog will sense it, and perform better, and if
they learn faster, they will not burn out before you get to advanced obedience or some
other type of training. They also will tackle the further training with a better attitude,
remembering the previous training was fun.

Above all else, temperature, climate, weather conditions should be taken into consideration
in training. If it's too hot, don't train. A training session in a climate that is oppressive
will usually lead to a dismal outcome. Both you and your dog may be on edge from the
heat. If your dog is sluggish, you may react in a negative manner or at least feel negative
about the dogs performance. Your dog is very intelligent, and will pick up on your
disappointment, regressing further into a poor performance. Since you dog can not
understand the reason for your strange vibes, it will confuse and even further reduce
the performance. It's hard to end a training session like this one on a good note, and
that it a must.

Letting yourself get into this situation is not acceptable. Your dogs training can be set
back by sometimes three fold. In other words, for the one bad day, it may take you
three days of regressive training to bring the dog back to the same point you were at
when you tried to push a training day you should not have. Do the math. If you would
have waited that one day, you would have been at least two days further ahead in your
training. This situation happens to many trainers that make a schedule in advance,
and are not flexible. Sticking to the schedule is of paramount importance for one reason
or another. It's just not worth it. For additional information concerning related topics,
see the "When Not To Train" chapter.


Back To Chapter Headings

Where Not To Train

In the previous chapters, we have dealt somewhat with this topic. Let's get into it a
bit more here. As mentioned earlier, the most important message I can give you, is
to pick a safe place to train. Not only for your dog, but for you also. It your attempt
to find different locations to vary the training session, never train in unlighted areas
at night, or any other place that you would not go to even if you were not training.

When you first start training, give yourself and the dog a break, and choose locations
that are not frequented by birds, ducks, or other farm animals that have left an irresistible
aroma. Your dog will be training with nose glued to the ground the whole time. Distraction
is good at certain times, but this is too much for beginners. This type of place would be
acceptable after your dog is well along into the training process, and you need special

Can't think of any reason you might need to have your dog trained to deal with such a
circumstance? Let me give you one. It's a personal experience, but it didn't happen to
me only, so it's not a one time aberration. Setting: Pacific Northwest Alaskan Malamute
Area Specialty, many years ago. Sir Francis Drake Park, San Francisco, California.
Springtime, early morning, ground damp with dew, slightly foggy (as San Francisco is
apt to be). Novice B ring. Location of ring: On an island in a small lake with a wooden
bridge connecting to the mainland. Name of island: "Duck Island". Get the picture?
This island was obviously chosen without consideration for dogs or people. Only the
creature from the Black Lagoon should have been mixing it up with these ducks. They
were everywhere, un-intimidated by the dogs or people. The term "obnoxious" comes
to mind. The shore of this island (about 200 ft. in diameter), was coated in a lovely white
muck. You get to imagine what it consisted of. The obedience ring was not a whole lot
better either. You never saw more butts up and heads down in your life.

Well, this was a good example of, they, (show committee) picked the spot, you, (exhibitor)
made the best of a bad situation. The show must go on. Where have we heard that before?
You can bet, I had wished that my training had included a bit more duck pond training. As it
was, I was one of the fortunate ones, and had trained in an area, at one point in time, where
ducks frequented. A place some of you may know, Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley,
California, with a couple of duck ponds. In reality, I had not trained there for that purpose,
but it sure helped. High in Trial was special to come away with that day.

Now, to get back to the chapter heading subject. Don't train at home. Give your dog a place
of sanctuary. A place they are sure is away from the training. This is not to mean they should
be allowed to become unruly at home. Just, that they need a "safe place". You don't want to
know that your boss can call you at home anytime and have you do work at your house at the
spur of the moment do you? Same type of thing, only not as reasoned out as that.

Never train where the distractions are too great for your dogs ability. Ability is defined for this
purpose, as the point at which you have gotten your dog to, in training with distractions. You
will know when this is happening. The training session will become diluted, and control will be
frustrating to maintain. The session will become a battle of wills, and counterproductive. When
this is the case, stop the session, and start fresh another day, somewhere more suitable.

Until you are far along in your training, never train where there are lose dogs. Not only your
dogs ability to deal with them is in question in the beginning, but so is your ability. Even if you
have trained other dogs, and feel reasonably sure of yourself, in a given situation, you still do
not know what reactions will be with this dog, and you may have to react in a completely different
way than prior experience allowed. This is yet another reason I subscribe to the premise, you
never stop training yourself, and learning. Experience is a great teacher. Just don't let
experience give you a false sense of security when it comes to your dogs safety, and your own.


Back To Chapter Headings

When Not To Train

There are certain times that training should be curtailed. These times are sometimes the
most elusive of all to not only understand, but to implement. It's difficult for a trainer to
admit that, "today, I am not capable of training" for some reason or another. It's also
difficult to say that in relation to your dog. i.e.:" My dog is not capable of learning what
I am training today."

There can be many reasons. The specific reasons can be found in the chapters "People
Mood Swings" and "Dog Mood Swings". Here, we will only note the consequences of
them. Any and all of the reasons can and will affect, not only your ability to train, but
your dogs ability to learn or understand the training. Learn to detect these times, and
conditions, and also to deal with them in a mature manner. Don't try to push through a
training session, thinking it will get better once you're into it. 99% of the time, it won't
get better, and 99% of the time, it will result in a counterproductive session.

Do not train for several hours after your dog has eaten. The reason is two fold. Just as
an athlete does not train after eating, so too, your dog should not. No matter how much
fun you make it, training is somewhat stressful, and this connotes into a bad combination
when mixed with digesting food. The second reason pertains to a specific type of training.
If you reward train, your dog will probably not be as excited about receiving the reward
treats on a full stomach. This can affect the effectiveness of the reward training session.

Try to avoid training when you are not feeling good, or ill. As mentioned earlier, your dog
can sense when something is different or out of whack with you, and this can result in a poor
training session. Even if your dog is not affected by a slight change in your demeanor, there
is the possibility of you not being able to conduct your own movements, the same as you
usually do. This can throw off a novice dog, and produce poor results, which in turn produces
confusion on the dogs part, and disappointment on your part. Many dogs can sense this
disappointment, and a further reduction in training quality is manifested.

This should go without saying, but I will mention it here anyway. Never train with a sick
or injured animal. Even minor illness can be counterproductive, and possibly result in a
worsening of the condition. Remember, stress can play a large role in prolonging an illness.


Back To Chapter Headings

Duration of Exercise Training

Training your dog can be analogized to athlete training. The duration of a particular
training session is as important as the content of the training itself. Also the amount
of time spent on a certain exercise within the training session is equally as important.
To continually allot yourself (for example), 30 minutes to train at each session, is
detrimental to training. Once again, keeping your dogs attention will produce results,
and repetition of the same amount of time on a session will eventually detract from
that attention.

Vary the session length. As an example, (remembering that each dog is different, and
you will learn yourself what is best, over time) to those just starting out, 15 minutes
one day, off the next, 25 minutes the following day, 15 minutes the next, off the following
day, 30 minutes the next. This is a basic additional progression routine. It gives
staggered days off, and an incremental two steps forward, one step back formula.
It is important to note, that for novice beginners, there reaches a point where too much
time can be spent training on a practice session. Since there is only so much contained
within the scope of the exercises for novice obedience, an overabundance of repetition
is inevitable. There is really no reason to extend a novice training session past 30
minutes, if you have all your ducks in order, and have pre-planned the session.

Always plan the session prior to actual implementation. This will give you not only
optimal exercise training time, but will also instill confidence in your dog. It will also
get you through the session in the least amount of time. This may sound like rushing
the training, but in reality, it is expedience, and another way to keep your dog from
becoming bored. After all, how many times would you come when called, or left and
right turn, before it became more of a mundane chore, rather than an exercise?

Exercise duration is also to be taken into consideration. Except for certain things
like problems to work out, or the long sits and downs, training time on any single
exercise should be limited to two or three run throughs each. Varying the length
of time on exercises is helpful as well. Your dog should never get used to a set
number of repetitions, or a certain amount of time for any given exercise. Long
sits and downs should be varied greatly. In novice training, anywhere from 2 to
10 minutes for the sit and 3 to 15 minutes for the down. Never fall into a set heeling
pattern. Break it up in every kind of different configuration you can develop.

Concentrate of taking different numbers of steps from one start / stop to another.
Mix up the lefts, rights, and about turns often. Practice stutter starts and stops.
(very short, quick heeling starts and stops, in varying times, and distances) Practice
the stand, sits and down exercises one day, and heeling, recall on the next day of
training. Alternate combinations of exercises, and the order in which you perform
them. As you progress, once or twice a week go through all the exercises, just
as you would in a ring situation, in the proper sequence.


Back To Chapter Headings

How to End Each Training Session

Ending a training session correctly is what I consider to be the most important aspect
of the entire training process. Every session must end on a positive note. Your dog
must feel good about what they have done, and also feel that you are pleased with them
for it. Without these feelings, each succeeding session will bring less enthusiasm from
your dog, and less attractive results.

As mentioned before dogs pick up on your emotions. As you spend more time training,
and more time with your dog, the emotional attachment becomes stronger. It is extremely
important to let your dog know that you are pleased with them.

Everyone has a bad training session once in a while. Let's take an example: You are
trying to refresh or brush-up on an exercise your dog has already learned. No matter
how hard you try, your dog continues to make mistakes. Your frustrated, a little upset,
and on top of that, becoming tired. If you should find yourself in this position, and find
that everything you do brings forth poor results, stop. Don't continue to pound on the
problem, thinking you can resolve it. Your dog knows you're upset, can't understand
why, can't get past the confusion, so can't perform as you would like, further
emotionalizing you.

Take a short break. Just a few minutes. Relax and calm down. Now take your dog on
a short exercise that is a sure bet to be done fairly well. Keep it simple and easy.
Heeling is usually the best. Do a couple of short starts and stops. Praise your dog
and reward. Take a walk and relax some more. Do not train any more that day. Above
all, do not show your anxiety, frustration, or any other emotion that would outwardly
tell your dog you are displeased with the previous poor results. Forget them completely.
As far as you are concerned, they never happened. To dwell on them, invites disaster.

Tomorrow, or the day after, start anew. Start once again with an easy exercise, and
build that confidence back up, not only in your dog, but in you as well. Use a different
training place than the one you used with the poor results, if possible.

Now let's take a moment, and look back at the original problem. There was something
that triggered the poor results during that training session. It is incumbent upon you to
ascertain the reason. Why? You certainly do not want them to happen again, if you can
at all help it. Every time you go out to train, you should take stock in the surrounding
conditions. Look around the area you are about to train in. Be aware of people, animals,
lighting, shadows, things that are moving in the wind, sprinklers, wet grass, construction
noises, airplanes, etc. Your dog could react to any one of the these things in an adverse
way, given the right conditions. These are the conditions you should be looking for, and
taking note of. If you have checked the training area thoroughly, it will be easier for you
to find the reason for the poor result session.

It will be easier, if the cause of the problem was from one of those outside stimuli. Another
consideration, it might be you. See the chapter concerning People Mood Swings for
more on this.


Back To Chapter Headings

Varying Of Training Locations

The old saying, "variety is the spice of life", rings true in the world of dog training
as well. Arctic breeds have a propensity toward "attention deficit disorder", or so
it would seem, sometimes. In reality, they just, plain, get bored with repetition, and
redundancy, as do I, sometimes. Don't you?

In order to avoid this situation, there are several ways to keep your dogs attention,
and enthusiasm. One, is to change the scenery sometimes. That means finding
different training locations. New places are good for you and your dog, as you both
progress in your abilities. These location changes are necessary for confidence as
well. Obedience matches and obedience trials are always in different parks and
venues. If your dog is not acclimated to changes, you will find the performances,
less than anticipated.

Socialization of your dog is also an added feature that comes along with location
changes. Not only should you change training areas, but also the types of areas.
Vary the activity levels in the areas attended. It is an excellent practice to train
in high activity locations, with lots of noise, people, vehicles, and sudden unexpected
sounds. It is however, equally important to chose quite locations. Training should be
balanced between these levels of activity and serenity. A dog can be just as leery or
cautious of the lack of activity and noise in a place, as too much.

Now that you have thought about all the places you can go, let's add a few more. The
beach is great. Waves crashing, people running and screaming, lose dogs, new smells,
and a completely different type of substance on the ground. A great place to introduce
new experiences. Parks with ponds, and noisy ducks that smell real good, are great for
a change of pace. Indoor venues are the most neglected areas of training. You will
discover the importance of practicing indoors, if one of your trials is indoors, and
you have no experience there. Results can range from poor to something you would
rather not think about. The rare exception, where a dog handles the new indoor
environment, and comes away unscathed, is exactly that, rare.

Vary the conditions indoors. These differences should include noise, activity, other
animals, and also quiet. Rooms that echo and reverberate sounds from all around,
are also to be placed on the list. All of this will result in a more well rounded and
consistent performance from your charge.


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If you're finding that I akin many of the attributes of our Arctic Breed dogs, to
that of humans, there is a reason. In many respects they are alike. Both are
stubborn, independent, resourceful, and intelligent (we hope). With intelligence
come the need for change and variety in the diet of life. Coupled with the need
to belong, most of us, and our dogs, need to feel that everything is going to fine
from day to day, and be comfortable in our surroundings, and environment. This
feeling of being comfortable is greatly dependent on a thing called consistency.

Without it, life tends to become a nebulous thing, in which unexpected intrusions
are not easy to deal with. A certain amount of trepidation is injected into many
things, which distracts, thus regulating the amount of information we can process,
and ultimately effecting the learning process. This learning affected learning
process, for your dog, is the one you need to be functioning at near 100% when
training. To help attain this, you must use consistency in your training mannerisms.

Each dog will need a little different approach to training, since each is an individual
with different needs. Each dog should get that different approach to training, but
each must have the consistency of that particular type of training maintained
throughout the process. This is especially true when first starting to train. The
following list is not meant to be all inclusive but will give you an idea as to the
various aspects of training that should be done with consistency:

Leash handling & positioning
Speed change adjustments
Mannerisms prior to starts, turns & stops
Inflections & tones in voice commands
Hand signal movements
Standing for group exercises
Speed of body movements

Every one of the above, is a potential threat to your dogs ability to learn, if not done
in a regular consistent fashion. If we take one of these and expound, we can start to
see the reasoning, and related it to the others. Let me take Inflections & tones in
voice commands, and give a brief personal example of what I am ranting about here.

One fine day, I decided it was time to train one of my bitches. She was out of one of
our breedings, and about 7 months old. She was not raised any differently than any
other dog we had every had, and that number was many. She had always been a little
more skittish with everyday commands, and tended on the side of reserved and shy.

The first day out was great, after I discovered that she responded best to a more gentle
and softer voice. The second day out, was not great, however. I am sure I used the
same intonation in my voice as the day before, but dogs have a much greater range of
hearing than we, so it must have been different. She reacted like being hit with a sledge
hammer. Frozen to the spot, she acted like if she moved, the world would stop, and
stared right through me, as if she did not even know who I was. I'm sure for her, that
may be exactly what she felt.

To make a long story, brief, like I said it was going to be, the answer was immediate.
Hand signal training became the appropriate manner of instruction for her. She,
(Dianom) was trained consistently with hand signals. Insignificant, slight variations
on signals without warning were met with disdain, and a similar reaction as the voice
commands received. Only with consistency, came reliable responses. The responses
culminated in fantastic results with consistent scores.

Every dog has it's own level of need for consistency. It must be there to some
degree, for all. Maybe not as significantly as in the story above, but that was
used as an example to get you on the right track. Constant attention to details
involving your actions when training are of paramount importance in giving your
dog a feeling of confidence. This consistency will pay off for both of you in the end.


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How to Distinguish and Identify Dog Temperaments
(in relation to training)

As trainers, it is incumbent upon us to get to know our dog as well as possible.
We need to understand their moods, reactions to specific stimuli, and the periods
of their ups and downs. This includes everyday living experiences, not just during
training. These observations and understandings will help you in your training.

Coupled with the above, is knowing what temperament you are dealing with. In
order to deal with a certain temperament, you must be able to identify it. After
identifying it, you must devise a plan to work with it, in order to make that
temperament work in favor of training. Since we are dealing with the Arctic
breeds only in this book, it is a bit easier to narrow down the types of
temperament we are facing. For the most part, we will not find ourselves with
a vicious temperament, just a stubborn, hard-headed one.

Within each dog, there is a different temperament. There are also degrees of
a certain temperament. Let's check out, and distinguish, what we are looking
for in temperament, in relation to training:

Attentiveness: This is especially important in obedience. You need your dog
to pay attention to you and the tasks at hand. This is not to indicate that we're
looking for a dog that will drool all over you from morning till night, or glue
himself to your leg every time you move. It's the puppy that comes to you every
time from the litter. It's the puppy with that special sparkle in his eye. It's the
new adult dog that pays attention to you, more than anyone else. This is what
we're looking for, more than any other trait. This is not to say that dogs without
these traits are not trainable. They are however, a plus to consider when
choosing a puppy, adult dog, or adolescent, with obedience in mind. This
should also be remembered for other purposes. Obedience is not just AKC
OBEDIENCE. Obedience crosses over all lines, and is a key word in training
for showing, sledding, weightpulling, skijoring, backpacking, movie training, etc.
In order to learn to work within any one of these realms, the dog must be able
to learn, and obey certain commands. This takes training, and obedience of
differing kinds, but obedience, non-the-less.

Reaction: You're not looking for a dog that will run at an abrupt, loud sound.
Conversely, your not looking for one that will sleep through a grenade blast either.
You're looking for one that is somewhere in between. Reaction has a broad range
of meanings. In our use of the word, we'll isolate it to how your dog reacts to
specific stimuli. These stimuli can be of many different types as well. The main
ones we're concerned with are, reactions to everyday occurrences, changes in
environment and everyday occurrences, reaction to sudden startling events,
reaction to people, other dogs, other animals, and above all, reaction to authority.
Not stern, forceful authority, but suggestions to things that you would like the
dog or puppy to do, rather than their own ideas. The reaction to these authoritative
suggestions is clearly dependent upon the manner in which they are suggested to
the dog.

In other words, if you are checking to see what the dog or puppy's reactions are
to a collar and leash for the first time, you are apt to find that it is not a good
reaction, if administered roughly, or incorrectly. Reactions are just that. Responses
to outside stimuli. They can be spontaneous, but also controlled, depending upon
how the stimulus is administered. For example: We want to find out the reaction
of a 10 week old puppy to a leash and collar being used for the first time. First,
we're not going to start obedience training at this age, but it is wise to start getting
the puppy used to the collar and leash at a very young age. If we grab the puppy
forcefully, force the collar over the puppy's head, snap on the leash and begin
dragging him around, the reaction is going to be obvious. We'll have one
screaming, pulling, squirming, and frightened puppy on our hands. If we do it
properly, gently, and slowly, we will get a different reaction.

Each reaction is controlled by us to a great degree. So, to sum up, any investigation
into the reactions of a dog or puppy, to determine temperament, is to be done
diligently, carefully, and with a great amount of respect for the dogs sensibilities.
Many dogs have been judged to have a poor temperament, when in fact, they have
been the victims of an uninformed human, quick to label. Temperament is largely
judged by learned responses to these stimuli, especially in an older dog. Take this
into consideration when testing for temperament.

Retention: This one is the easiest to check for. It is however sometimes confused
with stubbornness. Often these two are hard to distinguish from each other. Here's a
relatively quick example, to bring together what I am rambling about: How many times
does it take for your dog to learn to sit after each stop when heeling? It varies greatly,
depending on your training abilities, your dog's stubbornness, and your dog's ability to
retain learned responses. Let's say you consider yourself to be a pretty good trainer.
That means you have probably trained other dogs. This gives you an advantage over
others, in that, all things being equal, you only have to decide if the dog is being stubborn,
or is not able to retain. For those that do not have this advantage, it is incumbent upon
you to administer a few different tests for the dog or puppy. Simple, generally easy to
learn things, that can be used as a test of retention. Good ones for puppies are,
socialization and housebreaking. Ever notice that it takes longer for one dog to learn,
not to urinate in the house than another, even though you trained them exactly the same.
Even though each dog is an individual (not cookie cutters), and learning is directly
attributable to the teaching (or in this case, training), techniques, you can begin to
get an idea of which dog is able to retain more and faster than another. For our
purposes, more and faster, is better.

Aggression: You will know aggression when you see it. Any form of aggravated
aggression is not acceptable. Playful aggression is something else entirely. The
puppy that snarls while pulling on a play rope with another puppy, or yourself, is
not to be placed in the aggressive column we are defining.

Rescesiveness: Right along with aggression, I must point out that a dog or
puppy that is too shy or reclusive in nature is not a good candidate for obedience.
Again, that is not to say this type of temperament cannot be trained, and do well.
In general however, it is best to rule this type out. Energy can be lost in trying to
overcome a negative trait. This type of behavioral response to outside stimuli can
even come from a learned experience traceable, back to the whelping box. It must
be remembered, that puppies, in whelping boxes, are not monitored every minute
of every day by humans. This means that there are times when the puppies are left
either with mom or on their own. Even mom can step on a puppy, and this can possibly
manifest itself into a fear of some type. Each puppy will handle a situation like that
differently at that young an age. It can be forgotten, or stay with a puppy for years,
or forever. It can also, usually be worked out over time, if the learned experience is
detected, and properly handled.

In reflection, it is not a clear cut, and definitive set of rules, that outline the way in
which you chose a puppy or dog for obedience. There are many variables. There
are ways to determine specifics, and they are not always fool-proof and exacting.
A test that works for one trainer, may not lend the same results for another. The
results found by one person may not be interpreted the same as the exact same
results, by another person. With this, you can see, it would be impossible for
anyone to give direct responses to questions concerning a dogs temperament,
without first hand knowledge of the animal, it's behavioral patterns, and history.
This is why generalizations become a large part of the answers to questions. This
is also why many mistakes are made in the choosing process.

In your search for the right dog or puppy, remember to give them the benefit of
the doubt on any given day. Administer your little tests on different days and at
different times of the day. Animals, like humans, have their off times, and off days.
The response you get tomorrow may be entirely different than the one you get today.
Should this happen, don't leave it at that. Try again, a third and forth time. This will
give you a better idea of the real attitude, response, or trait, given an average to
base it on.


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What to Expect From Your Dog

Today, more and more, we find that people expect unbelievable feats of accomplishment from all aspects of life than were previously though reasonable. Many things contribute to this strain on humans and animals alike. Television, Movies, News Broadcasts, and sensational specials, depict animals in feats of daring, and performing acts that only the most advanced trainers should attempt. Also, lifestyles have changed to the extent that everything moves faster.  the pace is so great sometimes that instant gratification is often being sought were it can not be found.

This type of gratification, and high expectation, is not a good combination in dog training.  For the most-part you will be setting-up yourself and your dog for a grand disappointment.  Some dogs learn faster than others for many reasons i.e. trainer abilities and expertise, conditions, age, personality, and a host of others factor into the bargain. Another problem can come from a trainer expecting results attained from a previous dog, to connote to another.  Rarely will this happen.

Expect your dog to give you exactly what you put into the training, and preparation for training.  Expect your dog to perform within the range of your ability to train.  Just as certain athletes perform better when under the tutelage of a new, more experienced coach, so it is with a dog. Look to your own limitations first, in answering the question of what your dog will be able to accomplish. Learn all you can from as many experts and professionals as possible.  Never shut the door to new training techniques and ideas for problem solving. Never take short cuts, nor shun the tried and true working procedures.

Dogs have off days just as people do.  Learn the rhythms of your dog, and get to know when they might be under the weather, or just plain out of sorts. Never expect them to perform during these times in a consistent and normal manner.  Never expect perfection under these circumstances, and temper your vision toward perfection at all times, with your abilities.  Your dog will work down to your abilities or up to your expectations, depending upon your attitude toward training, and the time you are willing to devote to it.

To try for high scores in obedeince is a wonderful goal. To expect them is not conducive to a good working relationship with your dog, depending upon your training expertise. Once you continually expect them, you will be sorely disappointed when the time comes that they are not attained.  Have fun with your dog, and enjoy the relationship during training.  When you want to advance, or become a professional yourself, you can put a little more stress on yourself, and expect more from your dog. 

As you train and learn, and your dog learns more, expectations will naturally increase.  Just be aware of them, and try not to overestimate capability on both of your parts.

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Starhawk Alaskan Malamutes
Christopher Cooper Last Modified : 06/30/05 11:07 PM Copyright 2005-06