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7 Great Tips for Training Your Dog

7 Great Tips for Training Your Dog

Your dog is your best friend and can quickly become a member of your family. Dogs are affectionate, loving pets who will stay by your side no matter what, and they deserve happy and healthy environments that are conducive to their well-being. Just like humans, pets need boundaries and are happiest when they know what is expected of them. Dogs are very smart, and with some patience, repetition, and sometimes some special tools, your best friend will learn new skills and be an even better companion.

1. Give Your Puppy Tons of Affection!

Your dog will respond best to love and affection and praise. Yelling or punishing your dog will make them afraid of you, and that is the opposite of what you want. Positive reinforcement is considered worldwide to be the best way to train your dog for any situation, and will also aid you in having a positive relationship with your pet.

2. Be Consistent and Patient!

Consistency is the key to teaching a dog anything. Once you pick how you are going to train, you must do it the same way every time, so that your pup will know what is expected of them. You may get frustrated if your pup doesn’t pick something up right away, so be careful to stay patient and don’t let your dog see you get frustrated or annoyed.

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If you are clicker training your dog, consistency means giving your dog a treat every single time you click, even if it was an accidental click. That wasn’t your dog’s mistake, and he is recognizing the sound for a treat!

3.  Teach Your Dog to Sit by Letting Your Dog Sit!

In this technique, instead of trying to command your puppy to sit, you simply SAY the word “sit” whenever your dog’s butt touches the ground. What this does is teaches your dog to associate the word “sit” with what he is already doing. This is opposed to commanding “sit!” and pushing the dog’s butt to the ground. This will feel less like a training session to a dog, as they are already performing the action! You are simply telling him what he is doing and praising him or giving him treats.

4. Give a Command Once & Keep Training Time Short!

Continuing with positive reinforcement, give a command one time only, let the dog complete (or try to complete) the task, and then be generous with praise. Giving a command multiple times before he even attempts it will confuse your dog, and neither of you will get the right result. Even if your dog does not perform the command exactly, make sure you give your pup a treat, praise, and some pets.

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Don’t spend more than 5 minutes at a time in “training mode.” Dogs have short attention spans, and a lot of extra time won’t give a better result. A couple positive results in a short span of time is much better than a couple decent tries followed by 10 bad results.

5. Don’t Do Too Much Too Soon!

Work on one overall command at a time, and allow your pet to really learn that one first. Once your dog has mastered one skill, incorporate that into your daily routine so that the skill becomes natural and second nature, and your dog always responds to it correctly. Once you and your dog have a specific skill mastered, move on to the next. Don’t confuse your dog with too much too fast, as he will get frustrated and so will you.

6. Use Training Tools!

There are special bark collars that can help with behavioral training to keep your buddy from barking incessantly. Whether your dog is a yappy breed or is barking because he is excited, scared, or stimulated, a bark collar can help you retrain your pup.

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There are many tools that you can use to help you in your training. A properly fitted harness will help you leash train your dog by applying even pressure on his shoulders and chest turning him back towards you, so pulling on his leash is not productive for him and doesn’t get him anywhere.

Small clickers that will click-train your dog (as opposed to hand signals, voice commands, etc) are a valuable and inexpensive tool! Clickers are easy to use and your dog will very quickly pick up that a click equals food, which is the first step in recognizing training commands. You click when the dog does the right thing, then give it treats.

Remote training is a longer-range tool that allows you to push a button that will cause your dog’s collar to emit a stimulation such as a spray, vibration, ultrasonic, or a tone, which alerts the dog to your command. These can be used both to teach your dog new behaviors or to stop bad behaviors, like chasing or digging.

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These are just some of the more popular and affordable training tools, and there are more out there so do some research and find out what will work best for you and your pet. Be patient, you may have to use more than one type of training or training tool to find what is best for you.

7. Have Fun with Your Puppy Buddy!

It doesn’t always need to be a training session. Remember that training times should be kept short so that your dog doesn’t get too distracted, and make sure you and your dog do things together outside of training. Go for runs, play fetch, take your dog to the park, give him belly rubs, and spend time hanging out.

You don’t want to get so caught up in training and obedience that you and your pup forget to have fun together. Dogs are a huge responsibility, as well as an emotional and financial commitment, but lots of love and some consistent training will make sure you and your new best friend are happy and healthy.

Featured photo credit: Happy pup via static.pexels.com

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Last Updated on June 18, 2018

What Really Works: How to Relieve Lower Back Pain Effectively

What Really Works: How to Relieve Lower Back Pain Effectively

Eight out of ten adults experience lower back pain once in their lifetime. I am one of those people and I’m definitely not looking forward to my participation award. I know how it feels like to step out of bed and barely being able to put on your socks. Having lower back pain sucks. But 9 out of 10 patients that suffer from lower back pain don’t even know the primary cause of it.

Video Summary

Back Pain? Blame Our Evolution

Once upon a time in our fairly recent past, our ancestors felt the urgency to stand up and leave our quadruped neighbors behind. Habitual bipedalism, fancy word for regularly walking on two legs, came with a lot of advantages. With two rear limbs instead of four, we were able to more efficiently use our hands and create tools with them.

Sadly, life on two legs also brought along its disadvantages. Our spine had four supporting pillars previously, but now it only got two. The back is therefore naturally one of the weak links of our human anatomy. Our spine needs constant support from its supporting muscles to minimize the load on the spine. With no muscle support (tested on dead bodies) the back can only bear loads up to 5 pounds without collapsing [reference Panjabi 1989]. With well-developed torso muscles, the spine can take loads up to 2000 pounds. That’s a 400-fold increase.

Most people that come to me with a history of a herniated disc (that’s when the discs between the vertebral bodies are fully collapsed, really severe incident), tell me the ‘story of the pencil’. The injury with the following severe pain usually gets triggered by picking up a small, everyday object. Such as a pencil. Not as you may think by trying to lift 100 pounds – no, but by a simple thing – such as a pencil.

This tells us that damage in your back adds up over time, it’s a so called cumulative trauma disorder. Meaning back pain is a result of your daily habits.

Sitting Is the New Smoking

Whenever I sit for too long, my back hurts. In fact, 54% of Americans who experience lower back pain spend the majority of their workday sitting. But isn’t sitting something that should reduce the stress of your back? No, just the opposite.

The joints between the bones of the spine are not directly linked to the blood supply. These joints instead get nourished through a process called diffusion. Diffusion works because molecules (such as oxygen, important for cells) are constantly moving and try to get as much space for themselves as they can. A key element for diffusion therefore is a pressure difference. In the image below the left room contains more moving molecules than the right, that’s why the molecules from the left are moving to the right. This way nutrition gets transformed into the joints, whereas toxins are transported out of the joints.

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Sitting puts a lot of pressure on your spinal chord. The diffusion process therefore can’t function as efficiently. Nutrition and toxins can’t be properly transported, the joints get damaged.

    Sit Properly

    If sitting can play such a huge part in the creation of your lower back pain, how do you sit properly then?

    Is it better to sit with a straight back or should you rather lay back in your chair? Can I cross my legs when I’m sitting or should I have a symmetrical position with my feet? These are questions that I hear on a daily basis. The answer might shock you – according to recent science – all of them are right. The best sitting position is an ever-changing one. An ever-changing position minimizes the pressure on certain points of your spine and spreads it on the whole part.

      Credit: StayWow

      Stand Up More

      Even better than a sitting position is a stand up position. Standing dramatically reduces the pressure on your spine. If you’re forced to work on a desk the whole day though, you have two options.

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      Take breaks every hour of about 2-3 minutes.

      Set an alarm on your phone that goes off every hour! In that time you stand up and reach to the ceiling, on your toe tips with fully extended arms. You’re inhaling during the whole process. You do this activity for 20 seconds. Afterwards you’re walking through the office for the next 2 minutes. You might grab a healthy snack or some water in that time. The exercise relieves the pressure on your spine, while the walking makes sure that the joints on your spine are properly used.

      Or get a standing desk.

      One of the best companies on the market for Standing Desks, according to my research, is Autonomous. Autonomous offers a rather cheap Standing Desk, with the ability to change the height. Which means you can start the day standing and switch to sitting if you’re tired.

      Exercise for Lower Back Pain

      Sitting is an immobile position. Your joints are made for movement and therefore need movement to function properly. If humans are moving, all moving parts: e.g. the joints, bones and muscles get strengthened. If you’re in a rested position for too long, your tissues start to deteriorate. You have to get the right amount of activity in.

      But not too much activity. There’s a chance that going to the gym may even increase your risk of lower back pain. I know plenty of friends with chiseled bodies that suffer from pain in the spine regularly. Huge muscles do not prevent you from back pain. In your training you should focus on building up the muscles that are stabilizing your back and relieve pressure. Squats with 400 pounds don’t do the trick.

      The more weight you carry around, the more weight your spinal chord has to bear on a regular basis. That’s one of the reasons why huge, muscular guys can suffer from back pain too. One of the most important goals of your exercise regimen should therefore be weight loss.

      Here are some important tips for you to consider when starting an exercise regimen:

      Make sure you implement cardiovascular training in your workout routine.

      This will not only help you lose weight, it will also make sure that your arteries, which flow to the tissue next to your spinal discs, are free of placque and can therefore transport nutrients properly.

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      Important: If you have rather strong back pain, maybe even an herniated disc, don’t start running on a threadmill. Running is an high-impact exercise. Which means there are continuous, reocurring high pressure points on your spine. Your endurance training should therefore either be fast-paced walking or a training on the elliptical trainer for the beginning, because both have little to no stressful impact on your backbone.

      Focus on developing your whole core if you want to minimize your pain.

      There are some people that do hundreds of sit ups a day. While sit ups are a good exercise for your abdomen, it also puts pressure on your spine due to the bending movement. A sixpack workout routine is one-sided. Your abs may become overdeveloped in comparison to your back muscles. You’ve created an imbalance. A great way to train your abdominal muscles and back muscles simultaneously, is holding the plank position.

      Stretch only if you have tight muscles.

      I remember stretching every morning after I woke up. I took 10 minutes out of my day to just work on my flexibility and prevent injuries. Little did I know that I was actually promoting an injury, by doing so.

      Contrary to common belief, stretching is only partially beneficial to treating lower back pain. Stretching makes sense if tight muscles (such as the hamstrings) are forcing you to constantly bend your back. Stretching to treat pain doesn’t make sense if you’re already on a good level of flexibility. Hyper-mobility may even enforce back pain.

      If you found out that you had tight muscles that you need to stretch, try to stretch them at least three times a week. Don’t stretch your muscles right after you wake up in the morning. This is because your spinal discs soak themselves up in fluid over the nighttime. Every bending and excessive loads on your spine is much worse in that soaked-up state. Postpone your stretching regime to two-to three hours after you’ve woken up.

      Where to Start

      The key to improving your habits is awareness. Try to get aware of your back while you’re sitting down, laying down or lifting an object next time. This awareness of your body is called proprioception. For example, you have to be aware whether your back is bended or straight in this very second. Trust me, it is harder than you might think. You may need to ask a friend for the first few tries. But the change that this awareness can make in your back pain is absolutely fascinating. This consciousness of your body is one of the most important things in your recovery or prevention.

      Here are a few behavioural tactics that you need to be considering:

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      If you’re leaning forward more than 30 degrees with your upper body, support your spine with your arms.

      Ever tried to show a colleague of yours a complex issue and found yourself awkwardly leaning forward on their desk, pointing with your fingers to his paper? If that ever happens again, make sure you’re using the not-pointing arm to support yourself on the desk.

      Keep a straight back.

      Be it while exercising, stretching or standing. If you’re bending your back you’re putting stress on small areas of your spinal chord. A straight back redistributes the force to a bigger area. You’re minimizing the pressure. Remember this whenever you’re at the gym and reracking your weights, focus on having a neutral spine.

      Put symmetrical loads on your spine.

      I used to play the trumpet when I was a child. The instrument is pretty heavy. The trumpet gets transported in a big, metallic suitcase – with no wheels. Being the nature of suitcases, you only carry it with one arm, on one side of your body. This forced me to constantly lean on the other side with my upper body, while transporting the instrument from A to B. Not really the healthiest activity for your spine as you can imagine.

      If you have to carry heavy objects, carry them with both arms. Put the object in the middle of your body and keep it as close to your mass of gravity as you can. If this is not possible, try to carry the same amount on the left side than you do on the right side. This puts the stress vertically on a fully extended spine. The load is much better bearable for your spine.

      Stay Away From the Back Pain League

      Our world is getting more sedentary. We will continue to develop faster transportation, more comfortable houses and easier lives. While our technological progress definitely has its amazing benefits, it sadly has its downsides too. The danger for back pain will continue to rise on our ever-increasing motionless planet. It’s time to raise awareness.

      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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