NewDoggie, L.L.C.
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Phone: 763-571-1292
Fax: 763-571-1595

"In moments of joy, all of us wished we possessed a tail we could wag"   

-W.H. Auden



Why do you use a clicker?

Using a clicker can speed up the training process because it is a precise way to tell your dog what it is about what she is doing that you like. It's a lot of fun because, like a video game, you are actively watching and anticipating your dog's behavior, and using the clicker to capture it at the precise moment it happens! That kind of attention is also very good for your relationship with her.

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Do I have to carry my clicker and food around with me forever?

No! Once your dog reliably knows a behavior, your clicker and the corresponding food rewards will be gradually eliminated, and used only periodically to randomly reinforce the behaviors. However, petting and praise should continue forever!

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Why do I need food to train my dog? Aren't I just bribing him?

Most dogs are very motivated to work for food because it's a necessity and they are hard-wired to eat what's available. We can take advantage of that by using it to motivate them and reward them until the new behaviors are learned. If you look at this question from a human viewpoint, how willing would you be to go to work every day if your only reward were praise from your boss – with no paycheck? Training is all about motivation. It is a myth that dogs will “work to please you.” Dogs are great cost/benefit analysts and they do what works for them.

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What kind of treats should I use?

In most cases, when you are practicing at home or in very low distraction environments, you can use some of your dog's regular dog food. Figure out how much food he gets in a day, and separate out 25%-30% of it to hand feed as motivation and rewards for practicing current skills and learning new ones. When teaching new behaviors or in new or distracting environments (i.e. a group class), we recommend using higher-value types of treats such as freeze dried liver, cut up hot dogs, cut up string cheese, leftover pot roast, carrots, etc. Cut them up into tiny pieces so you can get in a lot of repetitions in a very short amount of time, and so that your dog doesn't get full! Using a variety of treats is also a good idea…even the best treat can get boring if used all the time.

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What is the best age to start training my dog?

Your dog is never too young and never too old to train. One of the many beautiful things about the positive reinforcement training method is that it is suitable for dogs of all ages and temperaments.

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It's so hard to fit training time into my busy schedule. How do I make time to practice?

Dogs learn best if we practice in short, frequent intervals. Instead of setting aside an hour a day to practice, instead do ten five-minute sessions. These are easy to fit in….while you are waiting for your coffee to reheat in the microwave, during commercials of your favorite TV show, while you're waiting for your turn to use the restroom, while you're waiting for your kids to wash their hands before dinner, etc. Turn every walk into an opportunity to practice all your basic skills in different environments with different distraction levels.

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What kinds of leashes/collars should I use?

We recommend a regular nylon leash and either a regular buckle collar or a head collar, such as the Gentle Leader. Ô Body harnesses and flexi-type leashes are nice tools…. after your dog has learned his basic skills and knows how to reliably walk nicely on a leash. Otherwise those tools tend to encourage and reward pulling behavior. Any type of pinching or choking style collars are not recommended.

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What is a Gentle Leader™ head collar?

The Gentle Leader™ head collar is a collar that fits around your dog's head instead of around your dog's neck. It works with your dog's natural instincts to help reduce pulling on the leash and manage other behaviors such as excitability, puppy nipping/biting, jumping, etc. While there are other brands of head collars on the market, the Gentle Leader™ is New Doggie's brand of choice.

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Which family members should participate in training?

All members of the family should participate! Positive reinforcement training doesn't require any physical strength, so pretty much any age child (from ages 1 to 100!) can “work” with the dog.

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What is the No Free Lunch principle?

Some people call this “Nothing In Life Is Free”. It is a “leadership” technique, or way of life with your dog. It means that, from your dog's perspective, all good things are dispensed by you, on your terms – not hers, and she needs to do something to earn it. Some examples are: in order for your dog to receive her bowl of food in the morning, she has to sit quietly until you put the dish down and release her to go eat it, the only time he receives attention from you is when he has all four feet on the ground (as opposed to jumping on you demanding your attention), she has to respond to a request of some sort to receive any treat, access to good smells, another toss of the tennis ball, etc. These requests can be very simple. The idea is not to limit your attention or his access to good things, but simply to give them on your terms, not his. This will increase your dog's motivation to respond to your requests, and will help him look to you as the leader. All members of the family, regardless of their age, should be using the No Free Lunch principle with your dog.

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What kind of toys should my dog play with?

Anything your dog enjoys is okay for her to play with, but supervise how your dog plays with them so they don't accidentally become a choking hazard. There are many new food-stuffing toys on the market that are terrific for funneling your dog's energy in a positive and constructive manner, and save your shoes in the process! Our favorites include the Kong and Busy Buddy toys found on the merchandise page of this website.

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Why are food dispensing toys so good for our dogs?

You could say that food dispensing toys provide “mental exercise” for our dogs because they are hard-wired to hunt and scavenge for food. These toys provide our dogs with a desirable outlet for that instinct, with the added benefit of redirecting potentially destructive chewing behavior. They can also be used to help manage a variety of other behavior issues.

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