We get emails and calls all the time from owners and handlers asking us how we can help them break bad habits. Some of the time it’s a simple technique, other times it’s a different piece of equipment or gear, but most of the time it’s just some tweaks to training and exercise that make the biggest difference. Below are some helpful tips and tricks that can help change your dog’s behavior:
- Never withhold food and water. Some owners punish dogs this way and it’s simply torture.
- Use food as a reward after training.
- Work your dog twice a day for at least 30 minutes (10 minutes of play, 15 minutes of training, 5 minutes of affection).
- Training should never last longer than 15-20 minutes since dogs only have a 15-20 minute attention span.
- Socialize your dog weekly with other dogs.
- Socialize your dog daily with other humans while coaching calm behavior.
- Always check your dog’s feet after time in the woods or field.
- Use a neoprene vest on your dog in cold temperatures, remove it as soon as your on dry land so the coat can dry faster.
- If it’s cold, get a carrier jacket. Your dog will stay warmer and is less likely to get sick or injured.
- Got a gun-shy dog? Start your dog 100 yards from shooting and have them heel and remain calm your dog, allow shooting, then calm your dog and move 10 steps closer to shooting. Repeat these steps until you’re 50 yards away – this ends the first lesson. As shyness goes away, end up 10 steps closer to the shooting.
- A clean kennel is a healthy kennel.
- Annual vet checks save dogs’ lives. Keep your dog wormed and vaccinated without fail.
- Take dog food and water with you to the field or the blind.
- Your dog needs things to chew on or it will find some things to chew on. Chewing helps keep their teeth clean and limits bad breath.
- Never run your dog longer than 10 minutes in hot weather and have immediate shade and cold water available. They can’t sweat and overheating is one of the leading causes of canine death in Southern states. Put your dog on the 4-wheeler or in the back of the truck instead.
- Check your dog’s ears every week. Look for dark areas or red areas and see if they are sensitive to the touch. If so, try a mixture of 1 part white distilled vinegar, 1 part rubbing alcohol, 2 parts water and pour a teaspoon in the ear and let your dog shake it out. Do this twice a day for each ear. The vinegar and alcohol will kill a lot of what might be going on in there but if that doesn’t help after a few days, it’s time to see a vet.