Touch – Part I



I’m working on teaching Bentley the “Touch” command.  I like to think of this as a gateway command.  Once you can get your dog to reliably touch on command, you can change what he is touching and gradually change the command to get him to do things like ring a bell or turn on the lights.  In the video I use a sticky note as a target so that Bentley learns that he needs to touch the little piece of paper and not just my hand.


Pet Insurance Options

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'A new cast' photo (c) 2010, Brad Patterson - license:

Pet insurance is becoming more and more common.  Some high-end companies even offer it as an employee perk!  But is it right for you?

When you go to a pet insurance website they have tons of examples of super high vet bills and how they could have been avoided for just a few dollars a month.  Horrible things like accidents and terrible diseases.

The thing is, most basic pet insurance only covers accidents and conditions such as cancer or heart conditions.  And you have to be careful just how much of the bill will actually be covered.  Routine vet bills aren’t covered, such as office visits or vaccinations.  Basic plans rarely cover hereditary conditions so if you have a large breed that suffers from hip displaysia you’ll be on your own for the bill.  And some basic plans don’t even cover the bill if your dog gets sick.  However, if your dog accidentally gets loose and gets hit by a car, it’s great piece of mind knowing you can do everything to save your best friend without worrying about the cost.

Another option, however, is creating your own pet insurance.  Sign up for a high-yield savings account, such as one with ING Direct. Each month, automatically deposit money into this account.  Then, should the unthinkable happen to your dear pet, you have the funds to cover it.  And should your pet live happy and healthy for a long time, then the money is still yours.  If you don’t have a pet yet, start this fund early!  If you already have a pet, you can combine a savings account with actual pet insurance and then cancel the insurance once you have a sufficient cushion built up in the savings account.

If you don’t think you’ll have the discipline to maintain the savings account, then perhaps you might want to reconsider if you have the discipline to maintain a dog!

Treat Treasure Hunt!

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In my never ending quest to keep my puppy entertained (read: out of trouble) I try to come up with things for him to do that force him to think.  So he has Kong toys and toys that dispense treats when he rolls them around.

Our latest game is a treasure hunt. I close Bentley up in my room (which he protests most strenuously) and then I go around the house hiding treats.  Then I let him loose to go find them!  He’s got a great nose, so he can usually sniff out the first few very quickly.  And it is interesting to watch him follow the scent trail I left while looking for them.  It’s a fun and rewarding game for him and gets him using his brain as well as using his nose!


Leave It – Redux

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So I mentioned in an earlier post how I’ve started coupling correction with positive reinforcement when training Bentley.  This has lead to him understanding and learning much faster what I want from him, and I feel this has led to much lower frustration on both our parts.  Previously I was trying to teach him the Leave It! command.  We got to the point where he would stop licking and pawing at my hand and look up at me, but any sign of a treat and he would go for it.  Using this new technique though, we’ve achieved much better results!  I can now put the treat down in front of Bentley and remove my hand without him lunging for it.

Bentley Opening his Present

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I got Bentley a new toy for Christmas. (only took him 20 minutes to pop the seam and start ripping out the stuffing once he began playing with it in earnest)  I wrapped it up loosely and put a treat in with it to see if I could get him to unwrap the gift himself.  Since he loves ripping up paper I figured it wouldn’t be too much of a challenge for him, and he did indeed manage to open it with almost no help at all!  I might have to do this with all his toys from now on; it makes for a fun little enrichment game for him.