Infini-tug Toy

The Infini-tug Toy is PetSafe’s replacement for the Tennis Tug. This is my favorite tug toy. 

  • It is soft on the hands for the humans
  • It is long so allows for a good distance between dog and handler
  • It can fly nicely so you can do a combo fetch/tug game
  • It goes in the wash machine and dryer
    • A little loud in the dryer, but pretty funny if your dryer has a window and the dog can watch it go round and round.

The down sides are short, but should be mentioned:

  • While the fleece is comfortable for the handler, it can be easily destroyed by the dog.
    • Take it out when it’s tug-time. Put it away when tug-time is over.
      • Don’t leave it alone with your dog – IT WILL BE SHREDDED !
  • The fringy end can be pulled by the dog leaving the toy a bit misshapen.
    • It’s a dog toy – who cares how it looks
    • Or, try to keep the dog pulling on the ball end.

Pax’e Learns the Gum Ball Machine

Pax’e learns the gum ball machine is a nice example of trick training using a clicker.

I like using clickers for very specific tricks or tasks.

We’ll see this again when we see more of the nail board

If you have read some of my other blogs, you will know I am not keen on perfect – just getting where we want to go as happily as possible.

You can almost see Pax’e’s brain cells firing away as she tries to understand how to make the gum ball machine work.

Top three reasons to love the Whole Dog Journal

The Whole Dog Journal has been a staple of mine for more than fourteen years and I recommend it as required reading for everyone who loves their dogs.

The Whole Dog Journal has been a staple of mine for more than fourteen years.

  • Each year I devour the annual pet dog food (both wet and dry) issues (Reason #1 and pun #1). These analyses allow me to choose the best food based on the specific ingredients and my dog’s needs—not the food that advertises the most.
  • This leads me to reason #2—No Advertising. Because The Whole Dog Journal does not allow advertisements, all their product articles from food to equipment are well researched and without pressure from advertisers!
  • Which leads me to reason #3—their staff of writers are credentialed and passionate about their work. They contribute to the research and they have the backgrounds that offer them the knowledge to comment appropriately on topics of health, training, behavior, and more.

Three Dogs Training encourages you to take a look at The Whole Dog Journal if you have not done so already! Maybe even as a gift to you and your pup(s)!

What’s in Lisa’s treat pouch?, or How To Make Your Own Puppy Crack

Ever wonder why dogs like Lisa’s treats so much? Here’s the secret to how her treats get and keep a dog’s attention both in class and home.

Ask-Professor-Boo-Banner

Ask Professor Boo is our recurring, positive reinforcement dog training and behavior question and answer column. If you have a question that you would like to ask Professor Boo, please feel free to contact him.

Q: Just what do you have in your treat pouch? Whenever we’re in class or you’re over for a private our dogs always like your treats better than our own.

A: I get asked this a lot and for whatever reason folks never believe that the secret behind Puppy Crack – as my treats have come to be known – is actually no real secret at all.

Imagine that you’re a kid again, it’s Halloween, and you’ve just come back with a mighty haul of candy. You tear off your costume, run into the living room to dump your pillow case into the middle of the floor, and find yourself looking down into a huge pile of nothing but Smarties.

Alternatively, you dump out your pillow case and see a giant pile of nothing but Lindt truffles.

Or apples.

Or little boxes of raisins.

Even if you really love Smarties, Lindt truffles, apples, or raisins, there’s just something that’s going to be disappointing about that Halloween haul.

For me, the best hauls were always the ones with lots of stuff mixed in the pile: high-end things like truffles right next to the pure comfort food yumminess of Smarties.

What’s true for kids on Halloween is just as true for dogs when training.

There are some guidelines that I follow for what makes up a perfect potpourri of puppy-crack for my treat pouch:

  1. The primary ingredient of any treat that I use has to be the actual thing. If it’s beef jerky the primary ingredient should be real beef, if it’s chicken it should be chicken, etc. In other words, read the ingredients and the first one should be some kind of meat.
  2. There should be a selection of treats that are stinky and the stinkier the better: remember that for dogs and people alike the majority of tasting is actually done with our noses, so the stinky treats will make all the others taste better.
  3. There’s a fairly even mixture of high-, mid-, and low-end snacks.
  4. The treats are only the ones that I know my dogs absolutely love. If the treats are only “meh” to the dogs then they won’t receive a reward commensurate with what I’ve asked them to do.
  5. Not every kind of treat that I have in the cupboard goes into the treat pouch at the same time. That allows me to change up what’s on the menu each time I refill, which keeps things interesting to the dog and makes them look forward to whenever I put my hand in the pouch.
  6. I always mix an amount of kibble into the pouch, simply because the ultimate goal is to eventually get the dogs to feel as if their kibble is a treat in and of itself.

And there you go: the secret of Puppy Crack.

Now that you know how I do it, there are a couple bits of additional advice:

  • Don’t cut up too many treats in advance – only keep enough cut on-hand to be able to fill and refill your treat pouch once. Treats go stale and they become less and less yummy to the dogs the staler they get.
  • Most treats seem to make dogs thirsty so please remember to take some water along for your dogs when you’re out and about training.
  • Keep in mind that at home you can probably train with your dog’s kibble, but when you increase the distractions we typically need to increase the power of the reinforcer – at least in the beginning.  Ultimately the goal is to only need food reinforcement in the learning stages or when something new occurs, because eventually your praise will be as powerful as that puppy-crack!  (How to properly sequence things will be addressed in its own Ask Professor Boo.)

If you’re interested in the specific brands of treats that I use, they’re available over in the Boo-tique.

Things Your Dog Will Love: Tennis Tug

The Tennis Tug is a great dog toy that combines positive reinforcement with a strange magic that enthralls every dog I’ve ever given it.

Tennis-Tug-MainIf your house is anything like ours you’ve probably got dog toys everywhere on the floor in every room.

It’s a fact: dogs love toys. They love toys so much that they’ll make anything into a toy given enough time, boredom, and lack of supervision.

Toys are also one of the most powerful tools to have in our positive reinforcement bag of tricks and there’s always been one that I keep hidden away – only pulled out on super-special occasions – whose value at the moment I take it out is almost as good as a bag of hot dogs.

When I need to go nuclear with dogs to distract them, direct them, or just to reward them, I push the button with the Tennis Tug.

The Tennis Tug is deceptively simple in its design, which is essentially a three-foot length of braided fleece wound through a tennis ball at the end. Woven through the Tennis Tug, however, is a magic that I’ve never been able to put my finger on but which seems to flip a switch in the head of any dog who loves Tug.

I started using the Tennis Tug at ARF in Beacon with a dog who has some resource guarding issues.

I know it sounds crazy to play tug with a resource guarder, but we only play according to the rules and only began once he had a pretty good drop-it command.

The magic of this game was that he didn’t have to guard it:  he knew that he could drop-it when asked and he’d get it back again.  It has done a great job in helping me reinforce simple commands for him and a great job at teaching him that many things just don’t have to be guarded.  (Stay tuned for more on crazy Wesley in future posts.)

When puppy Pinball came to live with us, I was in the middle of writing A Dog Named Boo and had to devise a game that he could play while I typed.  Tucking the tennis tug securely under my foot or thigh – when sitting – I could work as he tugged away.

I can’t tell you why you would want a Tennis Tug, but I will tell you what I use it for:

  • With Wesley at ARF,  because he got the Tennis Tug for good behaviors I was able to begin whittling away at some pretty big issues in return.
  • If Pinball is in one of his “I’m young and have a lot of energy so why not eat the pillows?!” moods, I can redirect this level of energy to the Tennis Tug which wears him out and saves my pillows.
  • Finally, if the dogs have just been really, really good I’ll give them the Tennis Tug for a couple of minutes just for fun.

The Tennis Tug is a great dog toy that’s cheap, pretty durable for a tug toy, and I think your dog would get a blast out of it.  Mine certainly do.

Remember:  this is a supervised toy.  Do not leave it with them alone because they will eat it!

Always present it to them, play for a bit, ask for a drop-it, pay for that and put the toy away when finished.