Off-leash obedience; How to keep your dog close.

Off-leash obedience; How to keep your dog close.

by Mark Siebel – Owner – DOGGIE STEPS Dog Training

Oh…the dream of taking your dog to the park, taking him OFF the leash, and playing fetch without him running away! For some dogs this can be a reality. Unfortunately, for others, the instinctual desires to smell and track will make it difficult to trust their “off-leash” freedom. I tell customers that off-leash obedience is NOT for every dog, so be sure that your dog has mastered the “come” command before attempting any off-lead work.

Off-leash obedience takes time, repetition, and your dog’s awareness that YOU are the pack leader. Through daily exercises and by using a stern-voiced recall, followed by a treat and strong praise/affection, your dog may have what it takes to play fetch unleashed. To see if your off-leash dream can become a reality, follow the simple tips below:

1. Off-leash at your local baseball diamond. A great way to get your dog prepared for off-leash obedience is to work with him at an enclosed baseball diamond. Find a local ball diamond and arrive early or late in the day to ensure you will be the only ones there. Go prepared with a leash and poop bag to pick up after your dog. Enter the ball diamond and be sure ALL gates are closed behind you. Release your dog from the leash and begin to walk the perimeter of the park. After only a few times of this routine, your dog will begin to follow/come to you! You can also practice running backwards combined with the “come” command in the ballpark. For a local ball diamond near you check out: http://phoenix.gov/parks/parks.html

2. 50-foot lead. Next, your dog must link the off-leash connection at the ball park to the eventual freedom in an open park/field setting. To achieve this, purchase a 50 foot training lead from: http://www.choicepetmarket.com/ With the 50 foot lead, go to your local park or greenbelt and tie one end of the lead to your dog and the other to your waist. The purpose of this long lead is to teach your dog that he has a 50 foot radius in which to roam. If he goes straight right, you go straight left. Just as the lead is about to get taut, you will command “come!” and continue walking in the opposite direction as your dog. In time, a boundary will be set, and your dog will not exceed the 50 foot radius. Practice this exercise often until your dog no longer exceeds the entire length of the 50 foot lead.

3. Playtime with dogs already off-leash trained. With your dog now familiar with a 50 foot boundary, its time to acclimate him to a play environment with dogs already trained to be off- leash. I often help customers with this by bringing my two Australian Shepherds. Having dogs that STAY close to the handler off lead will keep a new dog close to the pack 90% of the time. If you see any oncoming passersby with or without dogs, leash up your dog to ensure they don’t run. If your dog begins to stray from the pack on this exercise, you may want to have a 4 foot lead attached just to stop your dog. If your dog roams and doesn’t stay with the pack, repeat tips 1 & 2 for a few more weeks.

4. Finally, off leash with lead still attached. You’re almost there! Now that your dog knows its boundaries and has run with an off-lead trained pack, you now can do the final test. Pick an early morning and go to your local park/field. Take some tasty treats and a ball with which to play fetch. Be sure no other passersby are near and drop your lead. Have your dog explore with the lead ON to be sure you can stop him if he strays. After you’re sure the boundary is being obeyed, you can then remove the leash and your dream has come true!

Off leash obedience can be achieved with time and patience. As stated earlier, this is NOT for every dog. After you have tried tips 1 & 2 you will have good idea if your dog will have the capacity to achieve off-leash obedience. Please also be aware of your local OFF LEASH LAWS. I’d recommend off-lead work ONLY for exercises like fetch or general retrieval. Otherwise, for safety and dog etiquette, have your dog remain leashed.


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To crate? Or not to crate? – Mark Siebel

To crate? Or not to crate?
by Mark Siebel – Owner – DOGGIE STEPS Dog Training

If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a million times: “Don’t think like a human when you should be thinking like a dog!” I often have customers who think like a humans, when they really need to be considering how wolves would be raised in a wild pack situation. Domesticated dog behaviors are derived from grey wolves and must be addressed accordingly based on their natural instincts.

A wire crate or dog kennel makes an excellent way to potty train and teach your dog “calm-submissive” mentalities. Freedom is great for a dog IF THEY LIVE IN THE WILD or on a farm. However, in a domestic environment, less is more. With this less is more approach, your dog will learn NOT to potty where it sleeps and will benefit from the calming effects of spending time in a crate. The following tips will definitely start saving you money on your carpet cleaning bills:

Dogs generally don’t sleep where they eliminate. A dog’s best sense is smell. Therefore, they will most often eliminate in an area where they don’t sleep. The use of a crate will form the mindset that the immediate area of the dog must be clean. You want the area of the crate just big enough to let your dog turn around. This way, they won’t eliminate in one corner and sleep in the other. Once your dog no longer has accidents in the crate, you will then graduate him to a slightly larger area (i.e. bathroom or laundry room.) When this larger area proves accident free, you can continue to larger areas until your dog grasps the concept that “potty” is done outside.

A crate brings “calmness and tranquility” to dogs. A normal misconception that many of my customers have is that a crate causes psychological harm to their dog. ANSWER: If my Mother hadn’t given me numerous “time outs” on the dining room chair for upwards of an hour, I NEVER would have gotten off my A-D-D medication! Too much space and freedom for a young puppy will ultimately result in longer potty training times, excessive chewing, and an increase in incessant barking and outdoor roaming. I recommend giving your puppy a “job” to do in the crate like a hard nylabone or a Kong filled with bones or peanut butter. I don’t recommend any potty pads or soft toys with plastic squeakers.

3. The crate is your “babysitter.” Most babysitters today can cost upwards of $8.00 an hour! Your dogs crate is FREE and always available. If your dogs behavior becomes highly energized or incessant begging, jumping, barking, or chewing won’t stop, use the crate as your “babysitter.” A time out is beneficial to a dog’s mental growth. Just be sure you never associate negative tone with your crate. Make it a vacation or a calm “get away” for your dog. Over 50% of my customers tell me that after only one month, their puppy will walk into the crate on its own. The crate becomes a safe haven and resting place, where the dog naturally connects to it as a den.

4. Finally – One step forward, two steps back. Just as humans need to relearn or sometimes get back to basics, so do dogs. If your dog is fully potty trained but goes through chewing, barking, or digging periods, go back to using the crate. Returning to the crate will ignite a trigger in the brain, resulting with calmer, less destructive behaviors in the future.

The benefits of using a crate or kennel to develop your dog’s calm-submissive growth are significant and include quicker potty-train time and an overall calming state of mind. Will my dog become antisocial if I crate him? NO. Will my dog think I don’t like him if I crate her? NO. Is it inhumane to crate my dog? NO. But he barks for hours! (Get earplugs. Barking normally stops within one week.) When it comes to crating your dog, think like a dog and NOT a human. You’ll be saving money on your carpet cleaning bills in no time.

Tired of chasing your dog down the block? Read on-Mark Siebel

Come-Recall command. Tired of chasing your dog down the block? Read on..
by Mark Siebel – Owner – DOGGIE STEPS Dog Training

Have you ever seen the movie “Funny Farm” with Chevy Chase? He has an Irish Setter named “Yellow Dog” and as soon as he brings him home, the dog runs away! Throughout the film, the dog reappears but will never come to anyone who calls him. Don’t let this happen to you! The come/recall command is a vital connection between you and your dog. It is important not only for safety, but for establishing the appropriate hierarchy in your pack structure.

The come command can be mastered with only a few simple exercises. With consistent practice and praise to your dog, your neighbors will be astonished in no time! To ensure your dog WON’T be a Yellow Dog, follow the below simple tips:

Come is ALWAYS a happy place. The come command should ALWAYS result in praise and affection for your dog. You NEVER want to recall your dog and correct or discipline. Any corrections or discipline should be used when you approach your dog, not on a recall command. A good recall exercise can be achieved on your daily walk; with your dog on the lead, run backwards and command come in the most energetic, enthusiastic voice you can muster. The more tone/pitch/frequency in your voice the better! I want your neighbors to look at you funny due to your heightened excitement! Bottom line, your positive energy will attract your dog to come to you, and will be seen as a happy place.

Hide and seek. A dog’s best sense is scent, followed by sound, and finally sight. To challenge your dogs’ senses and to help him register the come command, practice a good ole’ fashioned game of hide and seek. While your dog is distracted eating or playing with a toy, have you or one of your children run and hide in another room and yell “come fido!” When your dog seeks you out (via scent & sound) praise him with good come! This exercise will teach your dog that he is coming to a happy place when he finds you in your hiding spot.

Off-leash at your local baseball diamond. A great way to get your dog prepared for off leash obedience as well as mastering the come command is to work him at an enclosed baseball diamond. Find a local ball diamond and arrive early or late in the day to ensure you will be the only ones there. Go prepared with a leash and poop bag to pick up after your dog. Enter the ball diamond and be sure ALL gates are closed behind you. Release your dog from the leash and begin to walk the perimeter of the park. After only a few times of this routine, your dog will begin to follow/come to you! You can also practice running backwards combined with the come command in the ballpark as well. For a local ball diamond near you check out: http://phoenix.gov/parks/parks.html

Finally – Practice, practice, practice. Mastering the come/recall command takes time and practice. As I’ve stated in prior articles there is NO perfect dog, so, remember that if your practicing come/recalls be sure to use the leash until your dog is 70% confident of the command. The leash will always reinforce that the dog MUST come to you.

Sometimes the solutions to our problems are right in front of our noses. Don’t make the come command any more difficult than it is! Dogs instinctively WANT to follow a leader. With the proper recall techniques – tone of voice, praise, and affection – your dogs days of “cat & mouse, chase me down play” will be a thing of the past. Say NO to Yellow Dog, and say HELLO to your Good Dog!

Mark Siebel has trained over 500 Arizona Valley dogs, has dog training tips published monthly in various AZ magazines, appears on NBC Arizona Midday & ABC Sonoran Living, speaks regularly with local schools youth groups about the importance of dog safety and ownership, and donates time to kids who want to learn more about dogs. He is a member of APPSA (Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association) and ASC of Arizona (Australian Shepherd Club of Arizona). Mark owns (2) Australian Shepherds named Leinie and Kugel. For more information or general dog questions, go to: http://www.doggiestepsdogtraining.com/index.html or call Mark @602.318.0122.

GO GREEN! Earth safe products for your dog. -Mark Siebel

GO GREEN! Earth safe products for your dog.
by Mark Siebel – Owner – DOGGIE STEPS Dog Training

Owning a dog is a lot like playing golf. By this I mean there are rules and appropriate behaviors/etiquette that correspond to dog ownership. Dogs are natural followers and WANT to please. With the right leadership and guidance, you can establish an amazing bond with your dog. To find this connection, it’s necessary to establish a routine to let your dog know the rules.

In recent years, many have also become leaders in an effort to establish a closer bond with Planet Earth. GO GREEN is a phrase now used which refers to the “conservation of our planet.” This too comes with rules and appropriate behaviors. We must leave the earth CLEANER than that onto which we were born. In regards to dog ownership, there are numerous ways that we can be in tune to keeping our parks and communities clean with our furry friends by following the below simple tips below:

Clean up after your dog. Except for an occasional child who does not pick up after their dog’s duty, there is NO excuse for any adult NOT to pick up after their dog! By trying to limit our use of non-degradable plastics, the consideration of bio-degradable poop bags is a great idea; visit http://www.squidoo.com/greendogs for more information. I often tie 2-3 bags on my leash to ensure that I have an ample supply to clean up after my dog. Not only does cleaning up after your dog keep our parks clean, but it will limit the transfer of disease and attraction of bugs and other ground mites/ticks.

Consider using recycled leashes, toys, and bedding. There are many products available today that are MADE IN THE U.S.A. that consist of organic, recycled, naturally hypo-allergenic, anti-bacterial, and odor-absorbing materials. These products are dog friendly and will help us to help our earth stay abundant and clean. There are a large variety of colors and prints, and the selection of items ranges from leashes, bedding, poop bags, and toys. Ask your local pet store if they carry any of these items. You may have better luck finding them at smaller, specialty pet boutique stores; http://www.doggiestepsdogtraining.com/page14.html

Stay informed! To stay on top of the many ways of keeping our planet GREEN, you must keep yourself in the GO GREEN pipeline. This can be achieved through consistent research of pet eco-websites, joining a GREEN networking group or social club, and networking with local pet friendly businesses. I find that by going to a local pet boutique or feed store, you can learn a lot! These stores focus on NEW pet products and have many resources to inform us about ECO safe pet product options.

Finally – A little bit goes a long way. Just like the old camp motto: “Leave the campground CLEANER than how you found it,” should be the same way we view our earth and parks. When you take a walk in your local park, consider picking up a piece of trash or dog duty even if it’s NOT yours. It’s the right thing to do.

As dog owners, we can make a difference in how we view our pets and the products that we buy. It’s the little changes that will give us the biggest results, so, think GREEN and we ALL can make a difference. Together we can make our communities, cities, states, countries, and earth a cleaner place for the future.

Mark Siebel has trained over 400 Arizona Valley dogs, has dog training tips published monthly in various AZ magazines, appears on Channel 12 Arizona Midday, speaks regularly with local schools youth groups about the importance of dog safety and ownership, and donates time to kids who want to learn more about dogs. He is a member of APPSA (Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association) and ASC of Arizona (Australian Shepherd Club of Arizona). Mark owns (2) Australian Shepherds named Leinie and Kugel. For more information or general dog questions, go to: http://www.doggiestepsdogtraining.com/index.html or call Mark @602.318.0122.

Mark Siebel-Buying a dog-Video

So You Want To Buy A dog?

Mark Siebel -Sneak Peek At His Video Series

Get a Taste Of What Mark Siebel Has To Say On:

Buying A Dog / What to Feed Your Dog/ Wet Food Verses Dry Food

Full Versions Coming Soon!!!

Sorry Mark,

I have to disagree with your opinion of wet food . My research has shown it to be 80% water and of almost ‘no’ nutritional value. I do agree that ‘kibble’ needs supplementation. However I supplement with an egg, and raw ground sirloin.

Tip: buy a roast or stew meat anything but ‘ground beef’ and have the butcher grind it for you (Most supermarkets will do this on request ) this way it is fresh and no additional additives (other than the loads of hormones etc. that you will always get unless you raise your own beef) I also give vitamin supplements of Ester ‘C’ as well as ‘Omega 3’ fish oil .

****Look for my article ‘The Benefits of Vitamin ‘C’ -coming soon!!

-Michele-

Please Feel To Debate This….

Who’s side are ‘YOU’ on??

Leave a comment with your opinion!!!

Dog Water Safety

Dog Water Safety

by Mark Siebel – Owner – DOGGIE STEPS Dog Training

Its summertime. Time for beer, brats, baseball, and the beach. It’s also time to be sure that your kids AND dogs are safe around water. For many Valley residents, most homes come equipped with a swimming pool. It’s important that your dog learns HOW to get out of the pool if they fall in.

I always stress the importance of (2) major factors relating to dogs and water: Safety & cleanliness. I often show up to customers homes for a first training session, and observe how the dog freely enters the pool at its own leisure. It is important to train your dog that they are ONLY to enter the pool when invited, resulting in dog safety and not having to worry about a wet dog in the house shaking off!! By following the below tips, you can rest at ease knowing that your dog will be safe around your pool:

1. Invite only. Just like I train a dog to ONLY jump up on the couch when invited, it is the same approach when a swimming pool or body of water is involved. Dogs are reactive to sound and motion, so it can be challenging when you jump in your pool and not have FIDO jump in after you. Practice having a family member or friend hold onto your dog when your about to enter the pool. Next, issue a STAY command. Calmly enter the water, and then invite your dog in the pool. This routine will become routine/repetition for your dog, and in time reduce the desire to enter the pool on his own terms.

2. Swimming for the first time. Most dogs have a natural attraction to water. So, in case a pool is present in your yard, your dog must have the basics of how to swim. I suggest finding the lowest step in your pool to introduce your dog into the water. Carry your dog calmly down the steps and then stand about 4 feet from the lowest step. After about 10 seconds of placing your dog in the water, have them swim back to the step, and exit the pool. Repeat this exercise daily, about 5 times in a row for a week.

3. Visual marker for pool exit. Once your dog is acclimated to entering and exiting the pool, it’s important to have a visual marker just in case they fall in from a different entry point, and need to exit. I often suggest placing a flower pot or a pool chair next to the exit step, so your dog becomes familiar with where the exit is. After only a few weeks of exiting at that visual marker, your dog will now be confident of where to exit the pool if they fall in.

4. Finally – Safety first! Be sure your dog is familiar with your pool and how to enter/exit safely. If you have a doggie door, be aware that you dog will have FULL access to the pool area so water safety is crucial!

Dogs and water are like ice cream and chocolate. They just go together. A swimming pool can offer your dog hours of challenging exercise and mental stimuli. With summertime here, be sure you’re aware of pool safety to ensure your dog will have as much fun in the pool as you do.

Mark Siebel has trained over 400 Arizona Valley dogs, has dog training tips published monthly in various AZ magazines, appears on Channel 12 Arizona Midday, speaks regularly with local schools youth groups about the importance of dog safety and ownership, and donates time to kids who want to learn more about dogs. He is a member of APPSA (Arizona Professional Pet Sitters Association) and ASC of Arizona (Australian Shepherd Club of Arizona). Mark owns (2) Australian Shepherds named Leinie and Kugel. For more information or general dog questions, go to: http://www.doggiestepsdogtraining.com/index.html or call Mark @602.318.0122.