Watch What You Are Reinforcing

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I have some questions for you. Does your dog bring a toy back to you only to play keep-a-way as it gets within reaching distance? Does your dog back up from you when you reach down to snap a leash on its collar?

Are you teaching your dog behaviors you do not like?I see it happen so often. And when it does, I often see humans persisting in reaching out to grab hold of the collar or making lots of effort to take that valued object from their dog’s mouth.

It is so important for us to remember that our pet’s are constantly learning from us, what behaviors have value based upon the consequences those behaviors cause. Our own actions are giving our pets that important feedback. Without realizing you are doing it, you may be teaching your dog to hold onto its toy or quickly dart away from you after approaching because doing that is pretty fun. It gets its human to engage, to chase, to tug on the item.

The other day I was working with a dog (and its owner) who was moving backwards upon presentation of a leash; however, once clipped on, his tail wagged, he was alert, and he was focused on moving to the door. (I see this a lot and have worked through this a lot.) His body language told me this wasn’t a case of a dog avoiding wanting to go outside. Actually, we could only guess why he was backing away from the leash presentation but this we knew, that behavior was being repeated which told us it was being reinforced in some way. Within less that two minutes, however, that all shifted and he was walking in to me and sitting in front of me while I clipped on his harness.

Why the change? I focused on the behavior chain that I wanted to see, which was to move toward me and stand or sit calmly with his face forward while I clipped on the leash. This was accomplished through shaping. I marked (with YES) small approximations toward the final behavior. Those approximations included movements toward me, sitting in front of me, and keeping his head forward.

This is just a reminder that if your dog is doing something that you don’t like. Remember that, as a teacher, you’ve absolutely got the power to teach new behaviors by shifting your focus to what you want your pet to do instead…and making that ‘instead’ of value to your pet.

Training Should Be The Highlight Of Your Pet’s Day

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This past weekend, I spent a phenomenal two days learning from world renowned and respected dog trainer, Denise Fenzi. Denise is an incredible handler and teacher who uses a deep understanding of dogs, clarity and fun in building strong and reliable behaviors.

“Training,” she reminded us at the outset, “should be the highlight of your dog’s day.”

4 tips for making dog training the highlight of your pet's dayThat is such a powerful statement that gives much to think about. How often it is that people tell me their pet will only do what they want when they have food in their hands, but even then, their dog may check out of the lesson. Why does this happen, how can you instead make training fun and stimulating so that your dog will want to be an active participant in your classroom?

Let’s put this into human perspective for a minute. In what environments are you most stimulated to want to learn and excel? What are the traits of a teacher who instills in you a genuine love of learning? Are you more engaged when you are forced to do so or are doing so out of a sense of obligation, or are you more inclined to pay attention when it is your choice and you are greatly reinforced for your actions? Are you more apt to want to push yourself toward goals when those goals seem completely out of reach and the road to achieve them is very unclear, or do you work harder when you can see a path and you experience smaller achievements along the road?

Now, put yourself in the shoes of a dog living with an animal who speaks a foreign language, often keeps the rules hidden until you break one, and may simply expect you to know what they mean when they tell you to do something. It really does amaze me sometimes at how much our dogs are capable of learning from us under often very difficult learning environments.

As your dog’s handler, owner, teacher, and caregiver, every interaction you share with your pet is one that is capable of either strengthening or breaking down your relationship. Remember that every time your pet has a positive experience with its environment including getting something it values as a result of its behavior, your pet is learning to associate good stuff with that behavior…and if you are part of that consequence, then you can become super awesome from your dog’s point of view.

I digressed for a paragraph. Okay, so let’s think about how YOU can make training the highlight of your dog’s day. These are a few thoughts to keep in mind.

Four Tips For Improving Your Dog Training

Your mindset counts. When you go into training, is your focus on ‘making’ your dog do a certain behavior, forcing your dog to do what you want, or is it about having an awesome few minutes with your dog where you are both left wanting more?  Often when teaching obedience behaviors (such as down, sit, stay, or leash walking) people tend to speak in more monotone or forceful tones, be more rigid, and smile less. However, when teaching trick behaviors people tend to smile more, speak in different tones, and even laugh some. The truth of the matter is that behavior is behavior. If you think about teaching leash skills or stay in the same way that you think about teaching roll over, both you and your student will be in a different frame of mind.

Incorporate fun and your dog’s Awesome List into your training. Speaking of changing your mindset when teaching controlled behaviors, Denise Fenzi teaches incorporating games into heeling exercises. After a good step or two in position, the handler can take out a tug toy, cue the dog to run around a cone, or toss a ball for example. Woaza does that build value for the wanted behavior! I’ve written about play numerous times on this blog. I love to use it in training because it has such potential for revving up the value of the wanted behavior I am teaching. It is the Premack Principle at its best. If you are unfamiliar, the Premack Principle basically states that the more probable behavior (like chasing a ball) will reinforce the less probable behavior (like sitting and staying).  Remember that it is the consequences that make behavior more or less probable in the future, so to strengthen behaviors it is important to teach animals the contingency between their behavior and the valued consequence that comes immediately after the behavior. Therefore, knowing what your pet values is an important step toward positive training. I call this the Awesome List and wrote a post about it.

Train in an environment where your pet can focus on you and the lesson. Remember, your pet is constantly making choices based upon where the value is for it. If you are trying to teach your pet in a place where the environment has way more value than your lesson, you will not win and you probably will end up teaching your pet to ignore you while you end up being frustrated. In these cases, you may end up resorting to punitive strategies to force your dog back into giving you attention but anytime you teach with aversives, you get an animal who will only work to the level it needs in order to avoid punishment, who may become fearful or even reactive, and who will come to associate you with those negative experiences.

Break your lesson down in small chunks. As your pet’s teacher, it is your job to help your student succeed. Teaching a behavior in too big of steps, can make it too difficult to learn and when this happens your pet may become frustrated, and begin to bark or simply check out. Always think about how you can teach the behavior in the simplest way so that your pet can succeed and you can succeed. Shaping is a training strategy that involves teaching behaviors by breaking that final ‘target’ behavior down into smaller increments known as successive approximations and reinforcing the animal at each incremental step until the final target behavior is learned. It is like the hot-cold game we played as a child and it is a lot of fun.

Are you ready to make your dog’s day? Great, time to go train!

Three Steps To Solve Dog Counter Surfing

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I think my parents are among the only dog companions who actually find joy in watching our Sam stand with his two front paws on the kitchen counter in search of dinner leftovers. For others, this behavior known as counter surfing is generally not welcome.

I have heard a lot of complaints about ‘bad’ dogs who persistently are in search of higher surfaces. But, before I talk about solutions, let’s talk about labeling these dogs. Are these dogs really being bad? (And what does bad really mean?) Or are they simply doing something very natural to dogs…using their senses to seek out food?

Let’s look at this from a behavioral analysis perspective briefly. Remember that all behaviors that are repeated, and even ststeps to stop your dog from counter surfing by Cincinnati certified dog trainer, Lisa Desatnikrengthened, are occurring because there is a reinforcement history in place. And, also intermittent reinforcement – meaning sometimes a behavior works to get a valued outcome and sometimes it does not – is the maker of extremely strong, persistent behavior as it creates the gambling effect.

That being said, if there is a super smelly, super tasty piece of food on a counter, your dog is very likely to put its paws up onto the counter to try and get it. After all, in addition to the ultimate possible outcome of getting that food, your dog is also being reinforced by the activity itself. Think about the value in providing your dog with a food enrichment toy and how focused your dog becomes on working to get the food out. It is exercise for its mind and body, and it is downright fun for your dog.

With an activity that has the potential of bringing so much value to your dog, think now of your expectations that your dog naturally ignores the counter just because you want it to. Behavior, unfortunately, does not work that way.

Using aversive strategies, as I remind frequently in this blog and in my training, are not my choice for a solution. Firstly, as is the case in any training, the timing of your consequence needs to be immediately after the behavior and it also needs to be strong enough to weaken that behavior. But, also, teaching with aversives can have so many potential negative ramifications including that it can create fear, apathy or even aggression; it does not help to teach the learner what to do instead; and YOU can be come associated with those aversive consequences.

What is a better solution?

Thoughtfully Arrange The Environment

An antecedent is a setting event for a behavior to happen. A piece of steak or other tasty food within reach can absolutely be an antecedent for your dog’s behavior of counter surfing. If there is a piece of food on the counter, *then* you can predict your dog will put its front paws there.

Keeping in mind that your goal is for your dog to NOT have any practice of the unwanted behavior (and reinforcement for that behavior), think about what you can do to manage the environment so as to not set the behavior into motion to begin with. Some ideas include having your kitchen gated off so as to prevent those paws from being close to kitchen counters when humans are not watching, and providing your dog with another activity such as a food enrichment toy while you are preparing dinner.

Add No Fuel To That Fire

Additionally, it is important to have a plan that *if* mistakes happen (which may occur), that reinforcement is not available or greatly minimized for your dog’s behavior of putting its paws on the counter. A house rule of NO food left on counters is always good to have in a home with a dog prone to searching it out. Also, note that your attention to your dog after the behavior is set into motion may just be another reinforcer.

Teaching an Alternative Behavior

Remember that your dog is going to make a choice based upon where the value is for it. If you teach your dog that going to its mat, for example, is huge value because when it goes there great things happen….like a piece of that terrific meat lands between its paws, while you remove the value of counter surfing (by keeping food away) – which choice do you think it will learn to do if its goal is to get something of value? As your training progresses, you can put that mat behavior on an intermittent reinforcement schedule.

Building value for alternative wanted behaviors can also be captured by keeping your eye out for your dog making the choices you want to see, and reinforcing those decisions.

The great benefits to teaching this way are they are adding more enrichment to your dog’s life, teaching your dog what you want it to do, and strengthening your relationship.

 

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A Reminder About Behavior

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I’m sharing one of my periodic reminders…whether you call it training or not, your pet is constantly taking in feedback from its environment (including you). Behaviors that “work” to get your pet something “it” values, will be repeated. It is that simple and that complex. If your pet continues to do something you do not like, think about what is setting that behavior into motion and what is reinforcing the behavior. Looking dog (or parrot of other pet) behavior problems from this perspective is the first step toward seeking the most positive, least intrusive solution.

the first step to solving dog behavior problems

Dog Resource Guarding – Should You Approach?

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GREEN LIGHT…YELLOW LIGHT…RED LIGHT
What should you do?

dog resource guarding - should you approach?

This may be your favorite shoe, but it is best to not approach this gal right now.  She has something of high value to her. Her eyes have shifted toward you and she is hovering over her shoe. Possessive aggression or resource guarding can pose serious danger. If you push the limit, she probably will escalate to a low growl or snarl…and may eventually snap. Do not practice challenging your dog or stealing her possessions. In this instance, you could redirect her attention to another valued activity or ignore her. Then set her up for success in the future by teaching her to reliably give you things when asked, and teaching her that giving up things of value only means she either gets those things right back or something of greater value.

 

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Are You Puppy Police?

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When the subject comes up of scolding a puppy (or dog) for getting into something humans think it shouldn’t, chewing up something of value to humans, or going potty in the house, I want to remind you of this comparison I like to use.

You are in essence playing the role of the traffic cop who is watching passersby from the side of the road to pull over and punish (with a traffic ticket) them for driving over the speed limit. Think about that for a minute…if you have ever seen those flashing red lights in your rear view mirror, has that very irritating fine – and mark on your driving record – caused you to stop driving over the speed limit every time you get in the car. Or does that experience cause you to be more vigilant in looking for police when you want to get somewhere faster?

Here is the thing about punishment. It has so many potential negative ramifications, among them being that it can create apathy, fear, anxiety and even aggression; and if you are the punisher, then you will become associated with that aversive consequence. Punishment also does not teach your pet what you want it to do instead.

Why punishing your puppy for bad behavior won't stop behavior. Another thing to keep in mind is that, just as with any consequence, if you are scolding your puppy for a behavior that was done in the past, too much time has gone by for your puppy to learn that association between the unwanted behavior and the punishment so you could be simply teaching your puppy that doing whatever it was doing at the very instant just before you yelled (which could be coming to you) caused you to respond that way. I am sure that is not your intention.

So, here is the other thing, if are having the housetraining problem of your puppy peeing on the rug for example and you yell, spank or do something else aversive to it at that instant, think about it. Are you really teaching your puppy to never pee on the rug (What happens if his bladder is really full and he has to relieve himself?) or are you teaching your puppy that if he cannot wait and has to go, that he better find a spot that is out of view from humans (think about your lesson with the traffic cop)? If your puppy is bored and his teeth ach, and he really needs something to put in his mouth, do you think your punishment would teach him he should never chew on whatever happens to be available, or do you think you are teaching him to stay away from you when he has a human object?

One more point is that, once you have gone down that road of using aversives with a puppy who has had accidents in the house, it is so much more difficult to do effective housetraining since your puppy will be less likely to go potty in front of you (and you need to be able to see him go so that you can provide reinforcement immediately).

Lesson here: Set your puppy up for success with good management to prevent unwanted behaviors from being practiced while you are teaching your puppy the behaviors you want to see…with lots of positive reinforcement!

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Why Puppies Pee Inside

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This has come up in conversation several times these past few weeks. If you are trying to teach your puppy to go potty outside, and your little friend, who just emptied his bladder outside urinates after being inside for even a few minutes, it is understandable that you could be frustrated. Let’s talk about that a little.

First things first, understand that it most certainly is not happening to make you angry but there are many other possible Some potential reasons why your puppy may be peeing in your house, and how to stop it. Puppy housetraining tips.causes.

Below are a few possible reasons why your puppy is peeing inside :

There is a medical reason. It could be that your puppy has a urinary tract infection or diabetes or something else. These are some symptoms to be watchful for: frequent urination, dribbling urine, blood in the urine, straining or crying out while urinating, frequent licks to the genital area. If you notice any of these symptoms, please visit your veterinarian.

Your puppy is not fully emptying its bladder when outdoors. This can especially happen in the morning as your little friend is so eager to begin the day, or when you first come home after an absence. If it does not empty everything, it will still need to go when you come back inside. You may want to stay out a little longer to see if your puppy needs to relieve itself again.

Your timing is off in reinforcing the urination. If you are too quick and mark/reinforce its peeing behavior, you will be interrupting (and stopping) the behavior before it is complete. Your mark/reinforcement should come immediately after your puppy finishes going potty. Also remember to keep the treats out of sight so your puppy will not be focused on the food, and will more readily learn the association that the behavior of urinating outside ‘causes’ the treats to appear.

To that point, you may not be providing clear enough information to your puppy that going potty is why you are outside. This can occur if you let your puppy out without being on leash and it finds many reasons to explore its environment and get reinforcement from other behaviors.

Your puppy simply drank too much water. Remember that what goes in, also goes out. They tend to drink more in the waking hours of the morning, and after eating dry food and playing.

What are some ideas for solving this?  Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Contact your vet if anything does not seem right to you. Ruling out possible medical reasons is the first step.

Management is SO important. If your puppy does not understand that outside is the place to go potty, preventing practice of urinating (and having bowel movements) inside – and getting reinforced for that behavior – is key while you are teaching your puppy wanted habits. Unless you are certain that your puppy has fully emptied its bladder outside, either having it in a crate or tethered/having a leash attached to its collar while you are ACTIVELY supervising it is just so important. Only when you are ACTIVELY supervising it, will you see it begin to show signs that it has a need to urinate and you can act quickly to bring it outside.

Take your puppy out more frequently. As a very general rule, take your puppy out first thing in the morning and last thing before turning in for the night, immediately after your puppy wakes up, shortly after eating, within about 15 minutes from drinking, after playing or other activity…and frequently during the day. It is helpful to write out your schedule of activity so that you can see patterns in your routine and your puppy’s behavior and cycle.

Stay outside longer with your puppy, especially in the morning. Give your puppy the chance to empty its bladder more than once. If your puppy urinates quickly and then wants to run off and play, keep it on leash.

Choose a potty spot and bring your puppy to that spot consistently. Do not play when you are in that spot. Teach your puppy that THAT place is for pottying.

No punishing for incorrect decisions. If your puppy has an accident in your house, do not punish it. Instead, clean it up with an enzymatic cleaner (such as the Nature’s Miracle Stain & Odor Remover) and then think about what you can do in the future to prevent that behavior from being repeated.

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Lessons Learned For Dog Training Success

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(Note that this was actually written several years ago for something. I just found a copy of it.)

I was thinking about this the other day when I was working on teaching our family dog, Sam, a new behavior. I was working on teaching him the leg weave (where he runs around a leg when you move it in a direction, then around the other leg), and he lost interest very quickly in the beginning.

If you are dog training and your dog is ignoring you, these are some questions to ask yourself.I could have simply blown it off to his being stubborn or dumb, but I know better than that.

I know that if an animal I am training is not getting the lesson plan, and would rather do other things at the time, that the animal is simply giving me feedback that I am not teaching in a way that motivates him to want to stay in the classroom.

So I took a step back and thought about what I was doing.

Was I setting him up for success or was I setting him up for failure?

These are some questions I needed to ask:

Was the environment too distracting?  (Remember, it is important when teaching a new behavior that you begin in an environment with minimal or no other distractions so as to have your animal’s full attention. You only add distractions slowly as your student tells you by his ability to focus on doing the behavior that he is ready for it.)

Did I have high enough value reinforcers? (Please read my post on why knowing your pet’s List of Awesomeness is important)

How was my timing between when he did a behavior approximation and when I gave the reinforcement?  (The shorter the time lapse between when the behavior occurs and the reinforcement is produced, the easier it is for the animal to learn that association.)

Was I going at the right pace for him?  (In my shaping plan, were my behavior approximations at an interval that were enough to teach but not so much as to be too difficult? See my post on shaping.)

Was I completely focused on the training so as to catch his behaviors that I wanted to reinforce?

Was my training session short?  (Training sessions should be short, 3 to 5 minutes, ending on a positive note.)

In this particular lesson, it was a very quiet living room with minimum distractions and so I was not using the highest value reinforcer. I was using Sam’s dog biscuits. Also, while I began teaching this by luring him around my leg (having him follow a treat), I did not give him a piece of the treat until he was half way around the leg.

That combination was not setting him up for success. Waiting until he moved half way around my leg was way too long of an approximation to keep his interest, especially when his reinforce for doing so was a piece of dog biscuit.

What did I do? I added some pieces of chicken to my reinforcer bag and, while I used luring at the beginning, I marked (and gave him a reinforcer) for his moving around my leg in very small increments the first few times. There were six locations around my leg that were my target points for marking and reinforcing.

That small change made a huge impact. In only a few trials, Sam was running around my leg and then around the other.

Next, I stopped at that success and practiced another behavior for a couple minutes, then another behavior for another couple minutes, and then went back to the leg weaves. Wow, was he charging around my leg by that point. I had made my classroom so much fun for him that he forgot he was there to learn…but learn he did! And with gusto!

The next step was to begin fading out the lure and using less frequent target points around my leg until I could get to the point where I would just give a hand cue and he’d begin to weave. Now we are working on shifting to just my leg movement as his cue to begin the weave.

My point with this post is that, whenever you are training an animal who just simply is not doing what you want him to do. Know that there is always a reason. And it is not that your animal is dumb or stubborn. As your pet’s teacher, step back and think through what you can do to make the lesson plan easier, more clear…and definitely more fun!

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Transferring Cues in Dog Training

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There are times when you would like to teach a new cue for a particular behavior. Maybe you want to add a verbal cue to a hand signal or vice versa. Transferring cues in dog training really is not that difficult to do. I’ll explain below. First, I want to remind you about some cue basics.

Cues for behaviors. What are they?

teaching and transferring cues in dog trainingScientifically speaking, a cue is simply a stimulus that elicits a behavior. Discrimination is the tendency for learned behavior to occur in one situation but not in other situations. (Learning & Behavior, Paul Chance) Therefore, a change in the environment known as a discriminative stimulus becomes a cue for that behavior to be set into motion.

It is important to remember that it is the consequences of that behavior, positive or negative, that determine the future probability of that behavior occurring. The cue is simply an indicator to the learner that that window of time for that consequence to happen is now.

In other words, the cue is like a green light that tells the animal NOW is the time to do something in order to get something it values or move away from something it wants to avoid.

Discriminitive (environmental) cues are learned all the time from our pets. They can learn that the doorbell is a cue for jumping and barking to get fun humans to walk through. They learn that a human sitting at the table is a cue for pawing that human to get attention or a piece of food. They can also learn that proximity to another dog is a cue to move away to avoid the potential of a negative past consequence (maybe a dog growled or jumped on it, or the dog was yanked on its collar by its owner).

They can also learn that your word ‘sit’ or your hand signal is a cue for sitting to get great things to happen. Or any number of cues we teach them through training. Here is the tricky part…our pets are ALWAYS watching us. And they REALLY pay attention to our body language. That being said, they can easily pick up on our slight movement that we don’t even realize we are doing as another cue for a behavior such as, we may lean as we say a word or we may look in a direction. This is actually referred to as ‘double cuing’ and it is SO easy to do. The problem is that, when two cues are taught simultaneously, one has greater strength and one of those cues will likely not be an effective communication too.

Teaching one cue at a time is the most effective, however, you can still have different cues for the same behavior. They should just be taught separately for greatest understanding and retention by the learner. Transfering that meaning from one cue to another is not that difficult. I’ll explain below.

First, here is a recap of qualities of effective cues (in positive training):

  1. They are simple, unique and consistent.
  2. You should say the cue only once.
  3. Only behaviors that are cued will receive reinforcement (from you)

Transferring Cues

How do you create new cues for the same behavior?

Firstly, come up with a second cue that is easily decipherable from the original cue (and different from cues for other learned behaviors). As an example, if you have taught your dog to hand target with a cue of an extended hand and open palm, then you would not want to teach an open palm as a cue for standing as well.

Once you have decided on your new cue, here are the basic steps for teaching it.

  1. Give the new cue.
  2. Then give the old cue.
  3. Then, when your dog does the behavior, mark it and reinforce it as you have in the past.

Do this for two or three sessions of ten to twenty reps each. Then, begin to pause for a moment in between the new and old cue. Your dog will likely do the behavior as it learns (from past experience) that the new cue predicts the new cue. If it does the behavior, immediately mark and reinforce it.  Soon you will be using the new cue only.

Note that if your dog does not do the behavior when only given the new cue, this is feedback that you need more positive practice in building that association between the new and old cues (and the reinforcement).

You will need to “proof” the new cue for all relevant aspects of fluency:  distraction, distance, duration, fluency, speed, precision, and the ultimate goal – stimulus control.  The good news is that if your original cue was well-proofed to fluency, the process of proofing the new cue will be significantly faster the second time around.

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Six Books For Kids On Dogs

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a list of Six books for kids compiled by Cincinnati certified dog trainer, Lisa Desatnik, CPDT-KA, CPBC

If you have a child and a dog, these books are colorful, well written and packed with important lessons on being a dog super hero.

May I Pet Your Dog, a book for children

May I Pet Your Dog by Stephanie Calmenson
Whether your child is afraid of dogs of loves them, May I Pet Your Dog is beautifully written book leads readers step-by-step on how to properly greet a dog. Using Harry the dachshund as a gentle guide, children see a variety of situations and learn how to meet dogs in a positive, welcoming way.

Good Dog, a book for kids on dogs

Good Dog! Kids Teach Kids About Dog Behavior & Training by Evelyn Pang
What I love about this book is that it is written by kids for kids covering the essentials of responsible and effective dog care and t
raining.

My Dog, a book on dogs for kids

My Dog! A Kids Guide To Keeping A Happy And Healthy Pet by Michael J. Rosen
A primer, an owner’s manual, a field guide, and more, My Dog! is the complete book for every child who has a dog―whether it’s a brand-new puppy or adopted mutt, or a beloved pooch who’s been in the family for years.

Puppy Training for kids, a book for children on dogs

Puppy Training for Kids: Teaching Children the Responsibilities and Joys of Puppy Care, Training, and Companionship by Colleen PelarThis book uses a combination of photos and easy to read and understand language to share with children modern, proven, humane methods to teach their puppy or dog.

Max Talks To Me, a book for kids on dogs

Max Talks To Me by Claire Buckwald
Alex and his dog Max are true friends—the kind that share each other’s excitement, comfort each other when they are sad, wait together when parents are away, and have fun wherever they are. Alex is learning that every good relationship is a two-way street. By observing and listening to his dog, by sharing good times and bad, he and Max are earning each other’s love and devotion. Parents will appreciate the information about animal communication and the dog-child bond that they will find at the end of Max Talks to MeChildren will want to share Max and Alex’s adventures and friendship over and over as they read the gentle, engaging story and look at the beautiful illustrations.

Buddy Unchained, a book for kids on dogs

Buddy Unchained by Daisy Bix
Buddy Unchained is the 2007 winner of the Humane Society of the US KIND Award, Best Children’s Picture Book of the Year and the ASPCA HENRY BERGH AWARD, best Children’s Picture Book in the Companion Animal category. It is a very moving story of a once abandoned dog and how his being adopted into a loving home has changed his life. It reminds children of the importance of being kind to animals.

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