Pet Care – Dogs

Recommended Dog Books


The Benefits of Clicker Training

  •  A clicker offers a clear, consistent sound for the dog. It sounds the same every time, unlike the changing tones and volume of a human’s voice.
  • It allows you to develop better timing in rewarding the right behaviour.
  • It also allows you to mark the right behaviour from a distance, so that if you can’t reward right away the dog still understands what the right behaviour was.
  • Used properly, it produces reliable behaviour very quickly.
  • It is extremely dog-friendly. There is no force, pushing, pulling, prodding, or punishments. Dogs get excited at being able to figure things out.
  • It works to build a strong relationship with your dog. You become the most interesting thing to a dog, rather than the environment, and you become more relevant to your dog (which is a huge problem many owners face – being irrelevant).
  • Great mental stimulation for dogs. Dogs need to keep their minds busy! A tired dog is a well behaved dog.

Clicker Tips

  • You must give a reward every time you click. Even if you click by accident, it must be followed by a reward so that it remains effective.
  • The clicker is not a remote control. Don’t use the clicker to get the dog’s attention.
  • The best learning occurs in short sessions. 5-7 (3-5 minutes for puppies) minutes several times per day is much more effective than one long training session.
  • Don’t name a behaviour until you are sure your dog will do it. Naming it too early can lessen the effect of the cue, and slow down training.
  • A marker word, such as “Yes!” can be used in place of the clicker, if a clicker is too difficult or you don’t have a clicker handy
  • Use the smallest treats you can that will still be effective. That way you have the opportunity to give many rewards. You can even use part of your dog’s daily meal for training to prevent weight gain.
  • Catch your dog doing something right! If you notice your dog is sitting nicely rather than jumping, reward it! If you notice your dog lying politely on its bed, reward it.
  • A clicker is used for the learning phase only – once the behaviour is learned, is given a cue word, and then practiced, the clicker can be removed, and the dog will respond to the cue word (which of course you will still reward from time to time!).

Written by: Kim MacMillan of Courteous Canine Dog Training Services


Pros, Cons & Alternatives to Electric Underground Fencing

The Pros

  1.  Some dogs enjoy increased freedom in their own yards because they are not on a tie out which limits their mobility.
  2. It may cost less to build than a traditional fence around your property.
  3. Some communities have strict rules and regulations regarding visible fencing on your property so underground fencing can be a solution to this.

Remember, you should never leave your dog outside alone unsupervised at any time.

The Alternatives

  1. Build a traditional fence. It will provide your dog and children with a safe yard to play in, and you get the added bonus of some extra privacy.
  2. Arrange doggie play dates with a close relative or neighbor that has a fenced in back yard.
  3. Use public dog parks located in:
  • Charlottetown at the PEI Humane Society – 309 Sherwood Road Registration is $20.00 per family per year. Open 24 hours a day.
  • Stratford at the town hall – 234 Shakespeare Drive. Open dawn – dusk.
  • Cornwall on Ferry Road off Highway 1. Open 10am – dusk.
  • Summerside on Ottawa Street beside Shur-Gain Feeds ‘N Needs store. Registration is $20.00 per family per year. Open dawn – dusk.

The Cons

  • Some dogs experience heightened territorial aggression over time when they are contained by electric underground fencing.  When a dog goes to the property boundary to bark and “announce” that someone is there and they get shocked, over time the dog will associate that person on the other side of the boundary with the shock. This, in turn, eventually leads to a higher and higher level of aggression to all people approaching and trying to cross the property boundary.
  • Delivery people, mail men and other service workers detest electric underground fencing because they themselves cannot determine where the boundary is in order to stay safe.
  • Some dogs experience nervous anxiety because they are constantly “worried” and “anticipating” the next shock, no matter how minor.
  • Some dogs will be harder to house train as a result of using electric underground fencing because after one shock in their yard, they are now afraid of the yard and refuse to go out to do their business in it.
  • Some punishments may not cause physical harm and may not seem severe, but they can cause the animal to become fearful, and this fear may generalize to other contexts. For example, some electric underground fences emit a tone that precedes the shock. Some dogs are known to then react fearfully to alarm clocks, smoke detectors, or egg timers.
  • It provides your dog with absolutely no protection from predators or aggressive animals coming into your yard. It will be hard for your dog to escape these encounters because they will have to be shocked to get away.
  • If your dog does run away, it has to get shocked to come back home.
  • The fencing shock is set at the one level you put it at, but different stimuli on the other side of the fence require different levels of shocks.  If a paper bag blows by on the other side of the fence, it won’t take too much of a shock to deter most dogs from running after it. If a fox runs by on the other side of the fence, it will take a much higher shock to deter your dog from chasing after that fox. But people do not stand outside with their dogs, watching everything and constantly adjusting the shock level. So therefore, rarely is the fence ever used correctly. It is also why many dogs, still, unfortunately get killed by cars when they are contained by electric underground fencing.

Read the position statement on punishment from the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior.



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