Gut Hunds Means Good Dogs!

Gut Hunds Means Good Dogs!

(717) 576-2535

Why should I take my dog to obedience class?

The obvious answer is that you want a better behaved, well mannered dog and obedience class should accomplish this.

Next, obedience training strengthens the bond between the handler and dog.  Obedience training involves communication and, since communication is a two way street, you learn to listen to your dog (understand his body language) in addition to getting your dog to listen to you.

How long should my training sessions at home be?

To start, keep your sessions short.  It’s better to do 5 minutes sessions several times a day rather than a 30 minute session once a day.

People have suggested that I use a crate for my dog. Crates seem cruel to me.

Just the opposite, crate training is a very safe and effective way to control your dog’s behavior.  The worst thing an owner can do is to allow a young or untrained dog free in the house.  A dog that is free to wander unsupervised throughout the house will ultimately destroy things, and in the process, possibly injure himself.  Crates keep the dog safe and ensure that damage is kept to a minimum.  Crates also provide the dog with a place to relax and sleep, similar to that of a den in the wild.

There are a few things to keep in mind when crate training a dog.  First, make sure that your dog has had time to eat, play and eliminate before he is crated.  Next is the size of the crate.  The crate should be large enough that the dog can stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably.  Third is the length of time that a dog should be in a crate.  There are many opinions on this, but a rough guideline for the length of time that a puppy should be in a crate is: 9-10 weeks: 30-60 minutes; 11-14 weeks: 1-3 hours; 15-16 weeks: 3-4 hours; 17 + weeks: 4+ (6 hours maximum).  Fourth, make sure that your children don’t play in your dog's crate.  The crate is your dog's private sanctuary and his right to privacy must be respected.  Finally, never use the crate as punishment.  If you do this, the dog will learn to fear the crate.  If your puppy is introduced to his crate properly, he should be happy to go into the crate at any time.  The crate can be used as a brief time-out when your pup gets too rowdy or is out of control.

Who should attend the obedience classes?

In my opinion, anyone who is living in the home and interacts with the dog on a daily basis should attend the obedience classes.  There should be a primary trainer for the dog, but simply by attending classes, all others will gain valuable information about obedience training and the handler/dog relationship.

What if I miss a class?

To the extent possible, you make up the class.   However, Gut Hunds covers a wide geographical area and classes are scheduled throughout the year.   So, while we may try to make up a class, it may be impossible to do so based on existing schedules.

Will my dog be completely trained by the end of group obedience classes?

No.  Training is an ongoing issue and my dogs train every day.  Just as you wouldn’t go to a gym, work out for six weeks and then quit training, thinking that you were in shape, it’s unrealistic to think that your dog should ever stop training and retain the level of obedience they attained during class.  And since training is designed to be fun, you and your dog should look forward to daily training sessions.

Do you guarantee success?

Yes and no.

If you give me the dog to train in my home for a period of time, I will guarantee success.  That way I have control over the situation and can insure that the dog will be trained properly on a daily basis.  Just as piano teachers, personal trainers, golf pros can’t guarantee success because their clients may not work the program properly between training sessions, obedience instructors have the same problem.  The success of the program lies in the willingness of the owner/handler to diligently train their dog on a daily basis between scheduled classes.

Are you available on weekends?

Yes, we are available seven days a week.

Is it true that playing tug with dogs will make them aggressive?

This is a myth. Playing tug with a sweet dog will never create aggression. There are some studies (Rooney and Bradshaw, 2003; Goodloe and Borchelt, 1998) that have shown dogs that enjoy rough house play with their owners, including games of tug-of-war, were generally considered better socialized than dogs that didn’t.  These dogs also had less separation anxiety and were considered more confident without being labeled as “dominant” or “aggressive.”

The above referenced studies showed no connection between playing tug-of-war and developing aggressive or dominance issues.  James O’Heare, a Canadian Behavior Specialist, wrote in Aggressive Behavior in Dogs (2007) “The relationship between tug-of-war and dominance aggression appears to be a myth.” (Ottawa: DogPsych Publishing).

There is always some risk to playing tug with dogs.  Because the dog uses its mouth to grasp objects, it’s possible that you may take a bite, albeit unintentionally. To play tug-of-war safely, always follow these rules:

  • The owner, not your dog, always starts the game.
  • Always be in control.  This means that your dog must know the “out” command and release the object upon hearing the command.
  • Use the game to train obedience.  While playing tug, give the dog the sit and/or down commands. When the dog successfully executes the command, restart the game as a reward.

Where are private classes/evaluations held?

I prefer to hold private classes at the client’s home.  Since this is where the dog eats, sleeps, plays and experiences all distractions, this is where I prefer to work him.

The same is true for behavioral evaluations.  If the dog is aggressing at home, or toward neighbors on while on neighborhood walks, I need to see him in his environment.  It’s of little or no value to do an evaluation in an environment that doesn’t stimulate the undesired behavior.

We have several dogs. Should they be trained together?

No, each dog should be trained separate and apart from the others.  This will eliminate distractions and will allow you to maximize the effectiveness training.  Again, a main goal of training is to establish the handler/dog bond, and this can be best accomplished by focusing on training one dog at a time.

Are there age limits for training your dog?

Not really.  While there are some exceptions, I prefer not to see a puppy less than ten weeks of age in group obedience.

As for the older dogs, they can still be trained and trained effectively.   I’ve had dogs begin their initial training when they were 10 ½ years of age.  Just as with humans, the older the dog, the harder it will be to eliminate an old habit and instill a new one.  It’s not impossible, just a little tougher.

Do you train large dogs (Shepherds, Rottweilers) differently than you train small dogs?

When training smaller breed dogs, there are some things that an owner can do, get down to his level, use smaller treats, use a soft, raised surface if necessary, to make the training process more effective. However, because training principles are consistent across all breeds, there is no reason why smaller breed dogs can’t learn obedience as well as larger breeds. The key to the training is for the handler to set the standards high, be consistent, use positive reinforcement, and treat your pup as if he’s a dog and not a furry baby.​