March has been a great month for us here at Ashling Place. Hadley continues to amaze us with her intellect and eagerness to please. This month, she proudly earned two designations: AKC Canine Community Canine (CGCA) and Therapy Dog. After completing a seven-week training course, which included time spent in public settings such as shopping centers and nursing homes, Hadley was then required to pass a series of tests in order to earn these designations.
In order to pass these tests, Hadley first needed to be able to master a number of basic skills. Of course, impulse control and maintaining attention are two crucial skills necessary, especially since there are a number of distractions that are introduced during the tests to ensure that your dog is able to remain focused on you and the task at hand. Another important skill she needed to be able to master is the “sit-stay”. The purpose of this command that your dog will be able to remain in a "sit/stay" position, even when you leave him, which is handy in a number of situations. We use it when someone visits, when we need to cross the street to get the mail and want the dog to stay in the yard, and even when it’s time to go outside and we want them to sit at the door until we give the release. It is the ultimate demonstration of control and is useful in everyday life.
Leash & Collar
The “sit/stay” is a command that truly is an essential skill for your pup to master, even if you are not interested in pursuing designations such as the Canine Good Citizen or Therapy Dog. We have advanced our training with this command during our field play and practice. Now the girls have to stay in a sit position while we throw the ball, which if you know our girls, this is a very difficult skill to master when a ball is involved. That said, they know to sit, stay, and wait for me to give them the release, which is “find it.” Not only are they exercising their bodies, but also their minds!
If you are interested in pursuing these designations with your dog, then I encourage you to start by learning more by visiting the AKC Canine Good Citizen and AKC Community Canine websites.
We had an exciting weekend at the Columbus All-breed Training Club Winter Obedience/Rally Trials. After months of serious training, Hadley was able to turn all that hard work into earning an RN title in the Rally Trial events! Rally is an obedience event where you and your dog demonstrate your ability to work as a team as you both navigate through a course of 10-20 signs that display a skill that you and your dog are to perform together. Check out the video below if you want to see Hadley strut her stuff. To learn more about AKC Rally, visit https://www.akc.org/sports/rally/. It’s a fun way to bond with your puppy!
Earning the title this weekend at the trials took plenty of hard work and dedication over the last several months. In addition to going to training classes regularly, we practiced our skills and commands daily. Yet, before we were able to get to that point, I had to make sure that Hadley was able to focus when necessary. Focus is the key to making all training possible. Now that you have mastered “impulse control,” it’s time to teach your pup how to pay attention to you.
8. You should practice this daily in order to make eye contract consistently strong. Be sure that every
time you say her name and she responds, you reinforce it with high-spirited praise such as, “YES, GOOD
Tip: Start adding distractions during your practice. The more distractions around, the more praise you will need to give. You may want to add extra special treats during this sessions to reinforce your puppy’s focus and attention.
This is one of many ways in which you can teach your dog to pay attention on cue. Some like to use commands such as “watch me” or “focus” in place of the dog’s name. Whatever method you use, be sure you are consistent and always use positive reinforcement to ensure success.
How is it possible that we are more than half way through the first month of 2019? It seems like it was only yesterday that we were snuggling up with cute little chocolate fur-balls of ultimate sweetness! Oh how we miss those puppies, but we couldn’t be happier that they have found such wonderful families who love them as much as we do!
This year is set to be an exciting year for us here at Ashling Place Labradors. We are making final plans for not only Riley’s next litter, but Hadley’s first litter, so stay tuned to learn more about future puppies. In addition to blessing us with beautiful, healthy puppies, our Labs are always busy training and competing. Hadley is currently finishing up her therapy dog training and has high hopes of using her Therapy Dog International certification to help others during times of difficulties and challenges. Hadley also aspires to earn her first Rally/Obedience title this year and has been working hard to master all the commands. Riley has already earned one title so far and is excited to get back into the Obedience ring and work towards earning her next title.
All of this talk about training leads me right into the main topic of this article: Basic Training. As I mentioned in our last article, we will be tackling the subject of obedience with an overview of the core basic commands that you and your pup should be working on together. Mastering these commands will help in a number of areas both in and outside your home.
Today I want to focus on impulse control. Helping your puppy learn how to make correct decisions is the foundation to their success in learning all other commands. There are a number of ways to work with your pup on impulse control, including having them wait at the door before rushing through and waiting to eat their food until you give a command. Here is a step-by-step description on how to work with your dog on “impusle control”:
As always, Stay Calm and Hug your Labrador!
Whether you have a lifetime of experience raising Labradors or are planning to adopt your first furry friend, it is always helpful to have resources to turn to when struggling with anything from behavior issues and nutrition questions, to looking for helpful tips on training and appropriate exercises to help keep your pet healthy.
Over the years, I have researched and collected a number of resources to help guide me in the process of raising our Labradors. Below is a list I have complied to help make it easier for you to access these resources when in need for general answers:
Health and Nutrition
The American Kennel Club - The AKC is a great resource for all things dog related. Visit this link to access a number of articles related to your Labrador’s nutritional needs. If you have questions about their general health, you can visit this link to access articles covering a wide variety of topics for all canine life stages.
Dog Food Advisor - This is a great site to refer to when considering what to feed your canine friend. The organization has researched over 4,500 dog food products and offers unbiased reviews and ratings on each of them. You can also sign up to be alerted of any and all dog food product recalls.
Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook. 4th Edition, 2007, written by Debra Eldredge, DVM, and Delbert G. Carlson, DVM. This is an excellent resource for general health conditions. While we always depend on our veterinarians for the care of our Labradors, we find that this to be an indispensable resource when caring for our Labradors.
Exercise and Training
The Labrador Site - We love this website as it is specific to raising and training the Labrador Retriever. There are hundreds of articles that cover everything from basic training tips to behavior modification. Also, you can find a number of product reviews on items such as dog beds, toys, grooming tools, and books. Definitely a site worth “bookmarking”.
Labrador Training HQ - An excellent resource for all things related to the Labrador Retriever, especially when it comes to training your Labrador.
Whole Dog Journal - Although not Labrador specific, this website has numerous articles covering topics related to training and behavior modification.
While there are a number of other resources available out there on the web, we have found these to be our most valuable source of information. Of course, having a good relationship with your veterinary office is extremely important, as they too are an excellent resource for all things related to the care of your furry companion.
Be Calm and Hug Your Labrador
While the early weeks of a puppy’s life are considered “critical” growth stages, by the time they reach 12 weeks old, they are entering into a crucial socialization period. This is the time when all of their experiences, both positive and negative, will influence their behavior as they grow into adult dogs. It is often referred to as the “foundational period” that informs who he becomes for the rest of his life.
So how can you help your puppy during this crucial period? The best way to do this is to expose him to as much as possible, ensuring that all of his experiences are positive. Now that his immunity has matured, it is safe to go to public places such as pet stores and parks. It is also a great time to enroll him in puppy kindergarten, such as the AKC STAR Puppy class, where he will have the opportunity to play and interact with a variety of other dogs, and people, while learning important social and behavioral skills.
Now is also the perfect time to start introducing your puppy to a variety of sights, sounds, and smells. If you ensure that your puppy has positive experiences with different people, things, voices, and more, then he is less likely to be surprised, scared, or even worse, aggressive when he encounters something new.
The following is a checklist of suggested situations to expose your puppy to as he grows up:
Child on a bike
Man wearing a hat
Person walking a puppy/dog
Person in a wheel chair
Man with a beard
Child dancing and jumping
Person using a broom
A festival or party
Ride on an elevator
Person pushing a baby stroller
Person in a trench coat
Women in a dress
Man in a suit
Person with a ball
Child playing with a toy
People of different races
Person with sunglasses
Children at a playground
Person at a drive-through window
Trucks and Cars
Person in uniform
Outdoor sporting games (basketball, baseball, tennis, etc.)
Of course, these are only a few suggestions, as there are a number of other opportunities you may be aware of based upon your own neighborhood situations. The greater the variety of experiences, the more comfortable your dog will be when she comes into contact with these situations. A knowledgeable dog is a confident dog!
Most importantly, make sure you take the time to share as many positive moments with your puppy as possible. Nurturing that relationship now will lay the foundation for a lifelong, loving bond between you and your dog.
Now that all the puppies are living happily with their new families, we are focusing our efforts on helping Hadley adjust to life here on the farm. In order for everyone to have a happy life here, we all must demonstrate good manners and respect one another. In the dogs’ world, this means demonstrating understanding of commands like sit, down, stay, come, leave-it, off, etc. And, of course, most importantly, knowing that they go “potty” outside.
We begin working on the concept of “housebreaking” when they are as young as 5 weeks; however, once they move onto their new families, or stay here with us at the farm, this training becomes more extensive. We believe that having a consistent schedule that includes playtime, nap time, and meal time is the most effective and quickest way to housebreak a puppy.
Here is an example of the schedule that we follow here at the farm:
- Take your puppy out of her crate, put her on her leash and take her to her potty spot. When she goes, be sure to praise her and use your “potty prompt” such as “go potty” or “go in the grass” or something that helps her learn to associate her actions with words. When she is done, praise again and then give a treat. If she doesn’t go, put her back in her crate for a few minutes, then take her back out to her spot to try again.
- After your puppy has gone potty, this is a good time to work with her on a little training. Work on commands such as “Leave-it” “Take-it” “Sit” “Stay” etc. Make sessions short…no more than 5 minutes at a time as her attention span is short and you always want to finish training session on a positive note. This stimulation will also tire her out.
- Feed your puppy her breakfast. After about 20 minutes, take her outside and follow the 6am routine. Afterward, put her in her crate until it’s time for the next potty break.
Mid-morning (for pups younger than 10 weeks old)
- Take your pup to the potty spot and follow the routine. Then, come inside and play with your puppy for a little while, do a short training session, take her out again to potty, and then put her in the crate until the next break.
- Take your puppy out and follow the routine. If the puppy is less than 6 months old, feed her some lunch, spend some time playing and do another training session. Take her out to potty again and then put her back in her crate. Once she is older than 6 months, skip her lunch.
Mid-afternoon (for puppies younger than 10 weeks):
- Same as mid-morning routine.
- Take puppy outside for potty routine. Then feed her some dinner and then take her back outside for another potty break. This is a good time then to leave puppy out of her crate as long as someone is keeping a close eye on her.
- Great time to play with puppy, do short training sessions, etc. Because the puppy will be more active, she will likely need to go potty more often than she does during the day when it is quieter so watch for circling, sniffing, pacing or other signs that she needs to go outside. We use a bell on the door that puppies quickly learn to jingle to let us know they need to go out. Only put the puppy in her crate if no one can keep a close eye on her.
10 to 11:00pm
- Take your puppy outside for potty routine. Then put the pup in her crate for the night. If she is older than 12 weeks, she should be able to sleep through the night without needing to potty. Younger pups normally need to get out at least once in the middle of the night.
We have had tremendous success with this schedule. Furthermore, going in and out of the same door whenever taking the puppy out, it does not take long for them to grasp the concept that potty time is outside. Here we are at 10 weeks of age, and Hadley is not only completely house-trained, but understands that her crate means it is time to rest, which makes for a peaceful night for the other residents on the farm!
If you follow our Facebook page, you already know that we are celebrating Riley's new Obedience Title. We participated in the Columbus All-Breed Training Club's Winter Obedience & Rally Trials this past weekend and earned our third leg for Beginning Novice. We are very excited about this accomplishment and look forward to moving onto the next level in our training.
The Labrador Retriever is a breed of many talents. Not only are they extremely accomplished at being a champion couch potato, they are also just as brilliant in field work, as well as in the competition ring. While they make wonderful companions, their intelligence and eagerness to please makes them remarkably trainable and excellent candidates for the world of AKC Companion Events.
Who Can Participate?
The AKC Companion Events consist of four different specialty areas: Obedience, Rally, Tracking, and Agility. Anyone of any age can participate in these events as long as their dog is either registered with the AKC, enrolled in the AKC Canine Partners Program (registration for mixed-breed dogs),enrolled in the PAL Program (Purebred Alternative Listing), or a member of a FSS recorded breed (Foundation Stock Service).
How Do We Prepare?
Competing in these companion events offer more than an opportunity to show off your dog's athleticism and intellect. The time spent training with your dog creates an unbreakable bond and many hours of fun for both of you. In order to prepare for these events, the first step is to find a local dog-training club that offers classes that will help you and your dog develop the skills and understanding necessary to be successful. Visit www.akc.org to find a training club near you.
What are the Companion Events?
As noted above, the AKC Companion Events consist of four specialty areas: Obedience, Rally, Tracking, and Agility. Here is a brief description of each:
To gather more detailed information about about each of these and how to participate in an AKC Companion Event please visit www.akc.org/events.
Whether a title is your goal, or you are simply looking to provide an additional outlet for your dog to learn knew skills, participating in training classes and companion events will be a rewarding experience. It is also another way for you to develop and nourish the everlasting bond between you and your dog.