Friday, August 31, 2012

August Photo Challenge: Week 4

Hi everyone! Dachshund Mommy here with week four of the August Photo a Day Challenge. I like this week's photos better than last, but I'm still not 100% satisfied ;). Here's all but the today's picture; I'll post the last one on Monday.
I will be taking the September challenge as well.
Which of these is your favorite?
Dachshund Mommy

Day 22: Home
I love homemade key lime pie

Day 23: Pair
Sometimes these two can be so sweet.

Day 24: Path
The dogs have made this path in the yard
Day 25: Fresh
I always feel so refreshed after a beach trip

Day 26: Dream
Day 27: Tap
Day 28: Clock

Day 29: Down

Day 30: Card
Nola always plays the "I haven't eaten all day so just give me a tiny bite of your food" card
This is my favorite picture

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Training The "Untrainable" or I'm Wrapped Around My Dog's Paw

     Hi everyone! It's ME and Dachshund Mommy here today to tell you all about my training.

     You see, it isn't really training; I simply have my mom wrapped around my paw. I do something that's SO easy, and I get stuff in return! Piece of cake!

     It's actually a bit more complex than that, but whatever floats Nola's boat ;)
Every since Nola was a tiny baby, she's had the incredible desire to learn. Not to please me, but to LEARN. I've never seen a dog who actually likes to learn. It's fascinating to watch the wheels spin in her head as she works out a command/trick/word.

     Before I get any further, let me state that I am not criticizing or attacking anyone's training methods. I'm only telling you what works for me and my dog, and giving you the scientific evidence as to why PR works so well. 

     Nola is training with ONLY Positive Reinforcement (PR)!!! 
I strongly disagree with any other form of training. And don't even get me started on Cesar Millian! The whole Dominance Theory is outdated and has been scientifically debunked. 
Check out these links if you would like to learn more:

Are Dogs Pack Animals? This is one of my favorite articles on the topic. 
The Dominance Controversy  As is this one.
Nonlinear Dogs
Myths About the Dog's Origin and Nature
Dominance and Dog Training
Beyond Cesar Millan
Cesar Millan, Dog Whisperer: An Alternative Approach
Wolf Status and Dominance in Packs This is a more scientifically written one, but worth a read. 
ClickerSolutions: The History and Misconception of Dominance Theory
The Social Organization of the Domestic Dog Very long and deep article, but once again worth it. 

Dogs are not wolves, any more than humans are apes. 
Example: You take two puppies from their mothers right after birth. One was born to a captive wolf, the other to a feral dog. You hand raise both of them (separately), give them the same amount of socialization and training. The dog that was born to a feral mother is a happy, well adjusted, trustworthy pet. The wolf, born to a captive mother who was accustomed to humans, is a nervous, reactive, unpredictable wild animal. See the difference? Dogs are not wolves.


     I use clicker training with Nola, just minus the clicker. Yes, even though it's in the name, you don't have to use a clicker to clicker train your dog. I use a vocal marker ("Yes!") in place of the "click". 
With clicker training, the click or verbal marker lets the dog know that they just did something great, and a reward is to follow. This has been the fastest and most effective way to train Nola. She does anything at all I like, it's an immediate "yes!" followed by either a treat, praise or toy. She quickly puts 2+2 together (hm, I just did something that made Mom really happy and I heard the good word followed by something I love. I'm going to do that again!) and offers me the behavior again. "Yes!" and reward. See how fast and effective that is? 

     I also use free shaping with her. Free shaping is where you see your dog do a behavior you're interested in and you give a click/verbal marker to let the dog know you like that. Do that till the dog gets what you like, then add a cue word. Congrats! Your dog just learned something without doing a training session. 
I free shaped Nola's habit of jumping onto furniture or putting her paws on my leg. Now she hears the command "up!" and either puts her paws up or jumps onto something (depending on the hand signal given). 

     On choke, pinch and shock collars:
They are tools, but tools that should only be used in the hands of someone who knows how to use them. And that's not many people. I personally think choke, pinch and shock collars should be banned except in very specific circumstances. 
There are so many other humane options out there! Thousands of harness and head halters to fit every dog! 
Nola is trained off leash primarily, but always wears a buckle collar and for walking uses a Pupia harness (the only one she can't slip) and a 6ft leash. 

Videos to check out:
My two favorite dog trainers on YouTube are Kikopup and Tab289. Both use strictly PR and clicker training, and they're my go to YouTubers for training. Tab289's video on dominance is a must! It's right up there ^ so check it out. 

Teaching Recall:

     Teaching recall isn't as hard as it first seems. The 3 most important things to remember are:
1) NEVER call your dog for punishment or when you're angry 
2) Reinforce every single time your dog comes to you, either with food, play or affection/praise 
3) Don't teach your dog that the word "come" means the fun is over (i.e. you leave the dog park, beach, in the yard, ect). When you're at the dog park, for example, recall your dog every 5-10 minutes and reward, then let her back off. Make it a constant guessing game, and make it that coming to you is better than anything she's leaving behind.

     How I taught Nola's recall is actually pretty straightforward. When she followed me, she got a a verbal marker and a reward. 
Then later, if she was somewhere in the house I'd call her name. If she came to me, she'd get the jackpot of rewards. If she didn't, I hadn't introduced the word come, so she wasn't disobeying. It only took her a few times to figure out it's a great thing to come to Mom right when she calls. That's when I introduced the word "come".
Then we moved outside, following the same steps as above, except she obeyed the come command. 
When I felt she was trustworthy, I let her off at the deserted beach. She was perfect and continues to be! She drags her leash when we're in public and she's off, just so I can grab her quickly if need be.
I always have treats or a toy in my pocket, and reward her randomly for following and coming back of her own accord throughout the day. It's become something of a game, kind of like in this video:

Teach tricks!
In addition to the usual sit, stay, come, down, heel, teach your dog tricks! It not only sets your dog apart from your usual run of the mill pet, it's a huge crowd pleaser and confidence builder. Nola actually learns tricks faster the obedience commands. 
Teach them anything! Be creative and silly!
Nola's paw and wave trick:

Nola's "bang!"

Commands/tricks/words Nola knows:
okay (let off command)
leave it
over (jump over something)
get in (bathtub)
watch me/look at camera
fist bump
touch (target)
high five
give kisses
give (drop it)
easy (walk nicely on a leash)
go find (toy, person, minion)
you got mail!
pig pig
car ride
Her "aunts" and "uncle"
Who's here?
Where'd they go?
go get it
be cute

Dogs learn infinitely better by being taught what they should do, rather than what they shouldn't. 
Don't set you or your dog up for failure! "Oh, I have a Dachshund, they're way to stubborn for training". Clearly not! Don't limit yourself with stereotypes.
Quit while you're ahead. Stop the training session with the dog wanting to continue, rather than when it's frustrated.
Mental exercise (training, food puzzles) is just as, if not more, important as physical exercise. 
Don't train when your dog is tired, hot, sore, stressed or right after a meal.
If your dog is having trouble learning a new command, fall back on one she knows well. A boost of confidence.
Training makes your bond with your dog stronger.

     This post is turning more into what technique I use to train Nola with and what she can do, rather than a step by step thing. Oops!  Sorry for the novel :)

     Now you're probably thinking, "damn, that dog is perfect!". She's not. I am so! Like I said, she's not. She's smart, and she knows it. She has mild separation anxiety, is petrified of garbage tucks, is demanding, doesn't like people outside the family and is nervous around big dogs. 
But, she's my perfect dog, which is why it works.

     Well, that's it! I hope we covered everyone's curiosity! Soon there will be a page (that's frequently updated) of my training put up, so keep an eye out for that.

     If you have any questions about this posts, or questions in general, please leave them in a comment below. If I get some questions, Monday's post will be a Q&A!

     Hope you enjoyed how I'm trained!

Kisses and Tail Wags and Hugs,
Dachshund Nola and Dachshund Mommy
"up" allows me to verbally place Nola where I want her 
Serious impulse control. This is her "wait" command and yes, those are treats.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Beach Trip!

 Hi everyone! On Saturday, Mom took me to the beach and I had a blast! We went to Mexico Beach, which is a lovely beach about 20 minutes from home that's dog friendly on one side (oddly enough, the dog friendly side is MUCH nicer).
I was nearly perfectly behaved! I didn't bark (I went through fazes at 4,5,7,9 and 14 months where I barked at everything), was very good around two other (off leash, out of their owners' control, much bigger) dogs, did perfect on stays, wait, sit, down and most importantly come. I got to be off leash 90% of the time, and Mom even called me off chasing some birds.

     Dachshund Mommy: Nola did incredible, I'm glowing with pride. 
Since she enjoys training and learning so much, I'm going to really crack down on her training and continued socialization and hopefully she will take and pass her Canine Good Citizen Test next year! 

     Here are some of the (nearly 2,000) pictures Mom took while we were at the beach. Enjoy!
Kisses and Tail Wags,
Dachshund Nola
P.S. Let me know if you'd like to read a post on what Mom does with my training, I've been debating doing one for a while now.

Practicing "stay" in a distracting environment 

Practicing "sit" in abnormal places

I love the beach!

All four feet off the ground! Lookout, greyhounds!

I'm cute.

I'll save you, Momma!

Pure joy


"Nola, come!"

I love sunshine

This is a mean crab.

I REALLY wanted it when it went back in the water

I look like an otter

Chasing birds

"Hang on! I'll get you"

Can we take this home?

Lovely day

Loose leash walking

Monday, August 27, 2012

Dachshund Nola Reviews: Paint My Doggy.Com

     Hi everyone! A while ago I was approached by Dave of, asking me if I would be willing to have a painting done of ME in exchange for my honest review. Someone who (FINALLY) recognizes the fact that I belong in art? Sign me up!

     According to the site:

~Your dog is painted realistically in a portrait that will make your favorite memories come alive.
~Your dog’s portrait is painted in great detail so its personality is fully captured.
~Your dog’s portrait is painted with only the finest grade materials so your memories will be persevered for a lifetime.
~The tears of joy when a loved one opens a beautiful hand painted portrait of their dog.Painted by hand

     When the painting came in the mail, I was shocked. I have NEVER in my life seen such a realistic painting. Seriously, it is incredible.

     Dachshund Mommy: managed to capture everything Nola is (and if you've followed us for awhile, you know that's a LOT) in a single painting. The painting looks like a photograph. Nola's eyes are alight in it just like they are in real life. She even has her constant look of the mixture of mischief, love and fire.
This painting is something that I truly will treasure forever. I want to say a sincere thank you to for immortalizing my heart dog. Thank you.

     I really cannot put this painting into words, so I'll let the pictures do the talking. Check out, and tell em Nola sent ya! 
Kisses and Tail Wags,
Dachshund Nola
     P.S. A bit of a heads up, these paintings are not cheap. They really are worth the money, but we sure don't have that kind of cash sitting around. The only downside, really.

Look, Mom! Larger than life!

Do you think that was my best side? Oh who am I kidding? I'm GAWJUSS all over!


Real picture.

This is my self on Mom's bookcase, in case you couldn't tell ;)

Every single details was there, even the tiny paw print on the D ring of my collar


My eyes!

Even the little tufts of fur on my ears

And the white on my chest!