Thunder Ridge Kennels Dog Boarding Services & Hunting Dog Training Thunder Ridge Kennels      4210 Hwy 312, Billings, Montana 59105

Billings All Breed Dog Boarding Kennels & Gun Dog Training

Dog Boarding & Training Articles 406-373-6386

Thunder Ridge Kennels in Billings, MT offers all breed dog boarding and gun dog training in Billings. Read our informative dog boarding blog articles to learn more!

Dog Boarding & Training Articles

Looking for authoritative information about boarding and training dogs? Our BLOG is just the place to be. With well over 25 years of experience in training and boarding dogs, Leonard Houser is certainly an expert on the subject. We will be posting new articles about boarding and training dogs periodically, so be sure to check back for the latest expert advice from Thunder Ridge Kennels!

About the Author:

Leonard Houser, owner and operator of Thunder Ridge Kennels, has been training and boarding dogs for over 30 years. He is well known nationally for his expert training ability and getting excellent reults with all types and mannerisms of breeds, He is a well respected member of the field trial community and his success in both competition and traing dogs for others is outstanding in the field.

Dog Training 101

 — Published 09-04-2018 by: Leonard Houser (Thunder Ridge Kennels)

While certainly presenting 'a complete guide to dog training' is beyond the scope of this article, we thought we would present the basics of what is involved in training a dog. The dog training information presented here is general in nature and most applies equally to both obedience traing and training hunting dogs for the field. Although successful dog training involves the trainer being able to 'read' the dog being trained and adapt the training accordingly, the following is an overview of competing schools of thought as well as our philosophy on how to train a dog.

Dog Training Philosophies

With enough patience almost any dog can be trained for a wide variety of behaviors. Dogs have a natural desire to please and can be trained to exhibit desired behaviors as well as not to exhibit undesirable ones. The two major schools of thought on dog training can be described as positive traing and negative training. We prefer to use a combination of positive and negative reinforcement, but before we get to that lets take a look at both methods individually.

Positive Reinforcement

As the name implies, this method of traing a dog uses positive reinforcement to reward the dog when he exhibits a desired behavior. It often involves giving the dog some sort of treat such as food or a favorite toy when he behaves as desired. Many trainers using this method also utilize a 'clicker' (simply a device that makes a clicking sound) when rewarding the dog and eventually most dogs will see the click itself as reward enough once they have associated the sound with something good such as their favorite treat.

Trainers who stricly use positive reinforcement do not punish dogs for bad behaviors, they simply only reward them when the dogs behaves as desired. Rather than punishing bad behavior during training, the dog trainer may simply ignore the dog when it behaves poorly and wait for the desired behavior before rewarding the dog. Although it can take much longer to train a dog using only positive reinforcement, some dog trainers have been quite successful with this method.

Negative Reinforcement

Contrary to what many might beleive, negative reinforcement does not involve punishing the dog. This term covers a training technique which involves the removal of an adverse stimulus. An example of negative reinforcement training would be putting pressure on the dogs rear when teaching the sit command and then removing the pressure when he sits. It is simply the opposite of positive reinforcement and rather than adding something good (such as a treat) it removes something to reinforce the desired behavior.

Positive & Negative Punishment

Despite the inclusion of the word punishment here, dog training techniques in this category do not involve abuse. Beating a dog is never a good idea in any training situation! Rather, this type of training involves adding an adverse condition with positive punishment or removing something good with bad behavior in the case of negative punishment.

An example of positive punishment in dog training would be the use of a pinch or electronic collar. By adding the adverse stimulus from these when the dog exhibits undesired behaviors, they quickly learn what is not expected of them. Negative punishment, on the other hand, is more like a 'time out' and involves things like removing things like attention or even play time with other dogs when the dog behaves in an undesired manner.

A Blended Approach

At Thunder Ridge Kennels we prefer to use all of the above techniques in varying amounts and degrees depending on the dog. While being consistent is certainly a key factor in training a dog, the ability to properly 'read' a dog and use the most effective training technique is something that comes with experience and is, ultimately, the primary factor in successful dog training.

We prefer to focus on the positive, but realize that when used correctly and consistently negative reinforcement and even punishment can be quite effective. We routinely use electronic collars and prefer ones with options for not only delivering a mild shock, but also the ability to make a noise or spray water. In most cases it takes very little time before a sound or spray is all that is required and there is no need to apply a shock to get the desired result.

Benefits of High Quality Dog Food

 — Published 08-04-2018 by: Leonard Houser (Thunder Ridge Kennels)

Beleive it or not, there are huge differences in the quality of dog foods on the market. Feeding your dog a high quality food, although more expensive per pound, is not only much healthier for your dog but can actually save you money in the long run!

The easiest way to describe the difference between a premium quality dog food and the much cheaper variety which you would normally find at a discounted price in the pet food aisle of your local store is simply ingredients. While most 'bargain brand' dog foods meet at least the minumum nutritional requirements for your dog, that is as far as they go. Additionally, they do it by way of fillers, additives and byproducts which do little for the health and nuitrition of your dog.

Bargain priced dog food is certainly less expensive per pound, but your dog has to eat much more of to get the nutrition he needs to thrive. Additionally, most of the fillers and other low quaity ingredients simply come out the other end resulting in more waste. Another down side to low quality dog foods is the fact that many of the filler ingredients are known to cause allergis and other health problems in dogs. You will likely spend mor on vet bills than you saved at the register.

So, what specifically, are the benefits of feeding a premium dog food?

  1. More Energy
       — Premium dog foods are formulated to be much closer to what dogs evolved to eat in the wild. They are designed to be very efficient at providing your dog with the proper energy for growth, work, and play!

  2. Easier to Digest
       — Like item 1 above, the proper formulation of ingredients makes it much easier for your dog to digest and process the food. More nuitrition. Less waste!

  3. Weight Management
       — Since your dog has to eat less and can digest more, there is a huge weight management benefit. Unlike cheap foods with lots of empty calories, your dog gets good nutrition and less chance of getting overweight!

  4. Muscle Tone
       — Have you looked at the ingredients list on your dog's food? Quality dog foods contain more protein. They also have it in the form your dogs system needs. The first ingredient listed on higher quality foods is going to be a an appropriate protein source such as chicken, beef or other meats. If your dog foods ingredient list starts with soybeans or something similar, it is probably an indication of poor formulation. Your dog needs protein to maintain strong muscles as well as build and repair other cells in the body.

  5. Skin and Coat
       — A rich, shiny hair coat is a good indicator of your dog being in good health. Dogs eating the proper balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids will have skin that is healthy and produces hair with a nice sheen. Dry skin, on the other hand, will lead to hair that easily splits, breaks, and falls out (more shedding). Premium dog foods contain adequate amounts omega-3 fatty acids which have an anti-inflammatory effect to reduce itching and other irritations caused by allergies or environmental conditions such as low humidity levels.

What Ingredients to Avoid

Artificial colors and flavors are a bad sign. Not only do they do noothing for your dog, but are probably there to hide something. Dog food should also never include the following: high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup or cane sugar or animal by-products and other artificial ingredients. Avoid 'meat and bone meal' or anything labeled as 'rendered'. Rendered means an un-named source from rendered animals which could include zoo animals, road kill, euthanized pets or waste meats from supermarkets. You wouldn't eat those would you?

Which Brand of Premium Dog Food is Best?

There is not a definitive answer to this question. There are a number of very good dog foods on the market. Some of them are even formulated to be breed or age specific. Some of the brands we recommend include: Iams, Hills Science Diet and Diamond. We personally use Tuffy's Gold Premium. Good premium quality dog foods do not have to expensive either. Both Costco and Kirkland foods are good as well. Remember, dogs are not vegetarians! Not sure which one is best for your dog? Consult your vet for more info and recommendations.

Performance Dogs Need Performance Food

While good nutrition is important for all dogs, it is especially important for hunting and other active sporting dogs. Thunder Ridge Kennels specializes in training top performing hunting dogs. One of the things Leonard has learned in his many years of training hunting dogs is that a proper diet can make the difference between a mediocre dog and a top level performer. He always feeds only the best to his hunting dogs and carries this same principle over into his boarding kennels.