Celebrate Howl-O-Ween!

Halloween 2014

I can't believe October has come so quickly! Whereas September is back to school for the kids, I like to think October is Back to School for the Doggies! October is a great month to spend extra time working with your pup before the winter chill starts to set in.

We have new classes starting at the end of the month:

Wallflower Class for shy dogs, Intermediate obedience, Basic obedience class and more!  ( E-mail Shelby@Shelbydogtraining.com or check out  My Website for more info!)  

Also, the most exciting holiday of the year is approaching quickly...Halloween! 

[Trick or Treater]

Here are some training and safety tips to think about as you start picking out doggy costumes and decorating your home:

Get your dog a ton of exercise the night before and early on the day of! A long walk, jog, playdate, or daycare is a great option! A tired dog is a well behaved dog! If your dog has any aggressive tendencies, fear of loud noises or a habit of excessive barking, place him in a quiet room as far away from your front door as possible at least a half-hour before trick-or-treaters arrive with a favorite toy or bone. You can also considering boarding your pup overnight. He'll be safely away from the Halloween festivities, and you'll be able to relax and enjoy the holiday.As tempting as it may be, do not bring your dog out trick-or treating. Even the most social and well behaved dogs can be spooked during this chaotic holiday. Avoid decorations that can be hazardous such as candles or flaming jack-o-lanterns. Do not use ribbons to tie around your dog's neck for a cute-effect. These are frequently ingested and can cause intestinal obstruction. Keep candy on a high shelf out of reach! Chocolate is toxic to pets and many candies can be harmful and make pet's sick. Only throw candy and wrappers in garbage that has a firm lid! Since your door will be opening constantly throughout the night, make sure your dog is wearing his collar with ID tags! - If you haven't done so already, visit your veterinarian for a microchip prior to the festivities of Halloween. If your pet does escape from the house or becomes lost, a microchip and proper ID tags will increase the chances that they will be returned home again.When trick or treating begins, give your dog a high value chew or interactive toy to keep busy! Every 45 minutes, rotate the item so they get excited all over again. When walking dogs during or after Halloween, watch carefully for what they might pick up. Bits of candy and wrappers will be abundant on the sidewalks and streets!

Does your dog bolt out the door? Start Practicing now! 

Train the situation:

~ Practice Sit-Stays about 2-5 feet from your doorway in the weeks leading up to Halloween. Work up to being able to open and shut the door while your dog is the stay. When you release them from the stay, reward your dog by tossing the treat away from the door. When they run back towards the door, use your body to block the doorway. Put them back in a sit-stay and practice again! Do this for two minutes, 1-2x a day!

Manage the situation:

~ Halloween is a good time to manage this issue rather than train it. Have your dog on leash so you can step on the leash or hold it when necessary. You can also use a baby gate to block the front hallway/door area. Safety first!

Does your dog like to counter surf or go after off-limit items? Start practicing now! 

Practice your "Leave it" and "drop it" commands in the weeks leading up to Halloween! Use high value rewards for obeying these commands so your dog would prefer not to try to get/keep the candy!

Leave-it? This is a command to stop your dog as it is moving towards or looking at an item.

How to Teach Leave it:

[Hungry Dog]

Put a treat in your closed fist and present it to your dog on the floor. Your dog will Sniff and Paw at your hand but eventually will pause for a moment. At that moment, say "YES" and reward with a treat ( from another location, not the one in your fist!)

Once your dog understands the concept of leaving your fist alone, do this exact step with the treat under your foot instead. Continue to "YES" and treat when the dog stops going for the treat or looks up at you. Show him the treat again by lifting up your foot for a moment OR pick it up and place it back down again. Once your dog is pausing quickly and reliably, you may add the verbal command "Leave it" in a firm tone. Do this as your dog looks at the treat you placed on the ground under or near your foot. "YES" and treat if he stops going towards the treat or looks up at you. Once your dog is responding to the command "Leave it" in this situation, you can begin practicing with different items! Use higher value rewards for asking your dog to leave harder items!

Drop it? This is a command to have your dog release something that is in its mouth.

How to Teach Drop it:

Let your dog chew on a stuffed toy while you hold one end. After a few seconds, present your fist right next to his mouth with a high value treat inside of it. He will smell the treat and therefore release the stuffed toy. At that moment, say "YES" and give him the treat. Practice this 5-10xtimes. Next, do the exact same motion of a fist next to his mouth but without a treat in your hand. Still "YES" and reward if he releases the toy! This teaches him to do it without a bribe. When he is doing this reliably, add the command "Drop it" as you present your fist. The last steps are to start inching your fist further away from his mouth, begin using different items, and to start rewarding intermittently, rather than every time!

Do you want to dress your dog in a costume? Start practicing now! 

I know dogs look cute in costumes, but first please evaluate if this is a good idea for your dog in particular! If your dog doesn't do well with being restrained, or doesn't like when you put on a collar, harness, or winter coat, they are likely not a good fit for a costume this year.

[Scary Dog.]

- If you do dress up your dog, make sure the costume isn't constricting, bothersome or unsafe. Be careful not to obstruct his or her vision; even the sweetest dogs can get snappy when they can't see what's going on around them.

- Make sure that as you dress your dog in its costume you are using yummy treats. Take it slow and don't force the costume on. Once the dog is in the costume do some simple commands and reward with praise and treats. Do this daily until the big day. This will help ensure that they adjust to their new outerwear!

Shelby  Semel Dog Training will be pairing up with Stonehenge Management  Company  for our 2nd annual Howl-o-ween Costume Party on unday October  26th at 2pm . It will be held at Ritz Plaza on 235 West 48th street.   I  look forward to seeing you all there!