Diane Mitchell – Trainer, Animal Instincts Dog Training and Obedience

Hello, I would also love to welcome Diane Mitchell to the team! Diane is an amazing trainer and specializes in dog sports. She will be teaching Agility, Rally Obedience, and General Obedience. Here is what Diane has to say about training, “I love helping dogs and owners understand each other and grow as a team.”
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Diane started teaching in 2009 at Best West and most of her background is in the sport and activity zone. She played Flyball for 13 years with 4 different dogs, her biggest accomplishment was with her Sheltie, Vega. He retired with his Grand Champion title. Diane also competes in Agility, Disk Dog, and Rally-O with her dog Blue, a Border Collie X. Her other dog, Static is retired from the sports scene. Static is a 10 year old Australian Cattle Dog.
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I met Diane last winter when she was assisting Kev Roberts and the Oxford Dog crew in Skijoring/Kicksledding class. Diane loves to go Kicksledding in the winter with her pups. After meeting her there, I knew I just had to take one of her classes. I took her Body Building, beginner Agility/dog sports class at TLC and it was just amazing.
Since taking that class, Diane and I have discussed her coming on board as a trainer and I am so excited that it is finally that time!
Diane will not only be a trainer, but she will be the manager of my retail section at the new dog daycare, Wooftopia Dog Training and Recreation Centre.

 

Erin Howes – Trainer, Animal Instincts Dog Training and Obedience

I am SO happy and proud to introduce Erin Howes as an official Animal Instincts Dog Trainer. Erin has been assisting me for about 2 years now and I am so glad to have her on my team.

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I met Erin, about 2 years ago, at a Manitoba Underdogs event. Guess who she adopted from Underdogs?? Josie Jo!!! Remember Josie? You can read about her here if you don’t. She was going through a Vet Assistant program and needed to log some hours so decided to do that training with me. Well, she is so awesome, I hired her on as my assistant as soon as her volunteer terms were done.

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Moving forward, Erin is not only a trainer, but also the manager of my new dog daycamp opening this summer, Wooftopia Dog Training and Recreation Centre. Here she will still be assisting me in some of my classes, but also be teaching her own! Her specialty is training tricks so you can expect some super fun workshops coming up in the future.

Ski…what? Skijor!

Kali and I recently joined a Skijoring/Kicksledding course and I am going to be writing a few blogs about our experiences. We are taking the course in Winnipeg, Manitoba at Training Loyal Companions with the amazing Diane and Skijor master Kev Roberts from Skijor OxfordDogs. Make sure to click on those links to check out more about them! Kev has tons of great info on gear, Skijoring, Kicksledding and dog information in general.

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First I should explain what Skijoring and Kicksledding are. Skijoring is a winter sport where a person is pulled on skis by a horse, dog, or motor vehicle. When Skijoring with dogs, the skier is skiing and pushing with poles, while the dog assists. The dog and skier both have special harnesses so you aren’t putting any pressure on the wrong places of the human’s or dog’s body. Kicksledding is the same idea but on a fancy sled rather than skis. The dogs are still assisting, you are helping move along by kicking the ground to keep the sled moving. If you want to learn more about these sports click here for some book recommendations and reviews.

We started a few weeks ago, but there wasn’t any snow you say! Well, you can’t run before you can walk, in most cases. We started all of our training on foot to really teach the cues and keep them focused. Especially with Kali and Nanu….We would have been visiting rabbits all over the street! The first class we talked about the sport in general, some safety stuff, and our dogs got fitted for gear. You will see Kali wearing the Second Skin Harness. For more information on gear click here.

The second class we really started to get into it. We talked about stretching our dogs before and after, I didn’t even think of this! So important and a great way to bond with your dog. We discussed getting our dogs comfortable with us touching their feet to apply paw wax and remove any snow build up between the toes. We then began to work on “LINE OUT” where the dogs pull the line taught and wait for you to get yourself, or the other dogs ready. I am telling you, this one was tough. It takes a lot of time, patience, and practice. It can take a year to get your dog to have a solid line out, especially since with obedience training you are always training your dog to come back and look at you.

Our third class, we went on a group walk to Assiniboine Forest. We took turns passing, worked on our “LEAVE IT” or “ON BY” and did some hill work (getting your dog super excited and running really fast up a hill). We also started adding in the cues for left “HAW” and right “GEE”. While practicing at home, Kali still wasn’t quite getting the whole “LINE OUT” and she was fairly distracted, but on this walk she really surprised me and did so amazing. I couldn’t have been more proud. It also gave me the motivation I needed to brush off the old skis, take them in to get hot waxed, and buy some new boots.

In the video above, Kali is practicing some of her Skijoring commands before we start on skis. Her “LINE OUT” is really coming along, as is her “GEE” (turn right) and “HAW” (turn left). I called for the “GEE” command a bit late but did get to see that she is starting to understand what it means. Once we started moving she did a great job keeping the line taught and didn’t get distracted by some people who were walking down the street towards us. All in all I am super impressed with how well she is doing.

Our next class will be trying out a kicksled now that we have some snow. Kali and I are just so excited. Make sure to stay tuned to learn about our first experience with equipment. I am hoping to get some video of Kali and I in action.

Oh, did I mention what my favorite part of this class is? That it is all trained using Positive Reinforcement. Last winter, I took a one time workshop and was fairly disappointed in how my dog was treated, and the class in general. I was pretty discouraged until I heard about the OxfordDogs course and now I am just waiting for that snow to fall!

Have you ever tried Skijoring or Kicksledding with your dog? Tell me about it in the comments below!

Puppy Training Basics

Hey there!

Sorry it has been so long since I last wrote anything! I have been getting quite a few questions from recent puppy adopters about some of the basics so that is what I will be writing about today. I mean really, who doesn’t love a puppy?

Bathtime!

First of all I want to mention a common mistake that is made by puppy owners. Teaching your puppy to shake a paw is SO easy right? However, puppies lack the impulse control to really learn what shake a paw means. Therefore, your puppy will just paw at you until they get something and will continue to do so as they get older, and bigger. This may be cute when they are pawing at you until a young kid comes by and gets pawed in the face…Generally I won’t teach a dog shake a paw until they have good impulse control. Sometimes this can be at 8 months, and sometimes it won’t be until a year and a half.

Ok let’s get started on the good stuff!

Keys to Successful Training

  • Patience – Be patient while training your dog. If you are feeling frustrated, take a break. Your dog will feed off of your energy and thrive in a calm, supportive setting. It is best to train a specific behavior in short periods of time, I usually suggest 3 – 5 minute sessions an evening, and make sure to end on a positive note.
  • Set them up for success – Always start your training in an environment where you are confident your dog will be 100% focused on you. By setting your dog up for success, they will get a better understanding of what you want them to do and thrive.
  • Continually train – Your dog is always learning, therefore you are always training. It can take a dog hundreds of repetitions before learning a behavior. This means that outside your regular training sessions, make sure to always reinforce wanted behavior.
  • Consistency – Dogs thrive on consitency and structure. You need to be reinforcing the behaviors you want every time and make sure that everyone else in the household is as well. If you train your dog not to be on the couch, but your kids always let him onto the couch, your dog will become confused and not know what you want him to do. Consitency is key in successfully training any dog.
  • Using the right rewards – Make sure to find a reward that your dog goes crazy for. This may be a certain type of food, toy, bone, or attention. When using food, toys, or bones, make sure to only let your dog have this during training times, this will make him more motivated to please.
    Food rewards should only be the size of half of your pinky nail, regardless of the size of your dog. Make sure to account for these in your dog’s daily food intake as you will be using a lot of them and do not want to be overfeeding.

House Training

House training can sometimes be tricky, but with some consistency and patience, your pup will get it in no time! There are 2 focuses when house training, to teach the pup to go to the bathroom where you want them to go, and to discourage them from going where you don’t want them to go. Make sure to get an enzyme based cleaner to eliminate the odor if they do happen to go on the carpet, I recommend Nature’s Miracle found at most pet stores.

Until your pup is house trained, you will need to be watching them at all times. Either have them tethered to you, or contained when you can’t be watching (in a kennel or gated area).

  • As soon as you see your foster sniffing and walking around an area, get them outside! Use an excited voice “Come on, let’s go outside!”
  • Once they go to the bathroom outside, make a big deal of it and give them a few treats.
  • REMEMBER if your foster has already gone inside, there is no point in yelling at the pup, or forcing their face into the mess. This will just cause the pup to develop fear issues towards you, or certain places in the house.
  • Once your dog is doing really well at house training, start giving them a little more freedom. If you are in the living room, let them be loose in that room. You can close off spaces with baby gates or x-pens if you need to.
  • REMEMBER set them up for success! Don’t give them freedom too fast as you do not want them to go backwards in the training process!
  • REMEMBER some dogs will go to the bathroom more than once. Just because your foster just went to the bathroom outside, does not mean that you can let them loose in the house. They could go inside a minute later!Bathroom Schedule:
  • As soon as they come out of the kennel, make sure to not give them a chance or they will go where they stand!
  • Before going back into the kennel
  • After a nap
  • After play time
  • 5-10 minutes after eating/big drinks of water
  • Ideally, your foster pup should be going outside every 1-2 hours while you are home
  • REMEMBER, the more freedom you give your pup and the more opportunities they have to go to the bathroom in the house and the harder it will be to train them to go outside.

Nipping

Nipping is a normal stage for your puppy to go through. Puppies explore with their mouths, so it is up to you to let them know what is okay to chew on and what is not. Nipping can also be brought on by teething pains, similar to a human child. To alleviate this pain, you can freeze a wet towel or some teething toys for them to chew. Make sure to have A LOT of acceptable toys and bones around that your foster is allowed to chew on. Dollarama has a great selection of affordable chew toys for puppies.

  • Start out the training right, teach them what you want them to do rather than showing them what not to do.
  • Start by rewarding calm behavior. During play times with your foster, don’t engage the pup until they are sitting and being calm.
  • Completely ignore them if they are jumping at you, even you telling them “no” and pushing them away is giving them what they want: attention. During play times, stop them, wait for calm and then start to play again. A tug toy is a great tool for teaching these behaviors.
  • If your dog is consistently nipping at your heels, try going into a room for 30 seconds, coming out, and rewarding for calm behavior.Or put them in a “positive time out” in the kennel to calm down with a treat or toy.
  • Have A LOT of toys for them to chew on. Different options to redirect them from chewing on your hands, clothes, and other items.
  • Train “LEAVE IT” and “DROP IT”

Nipping

Leave It

  • Start with some treats. Put a treat in a closed fist, once the dog stops sniffing and trying to get the treat out, use your verbal marker, “YES” or click and reward FROM YOUR OTHER HAND. You will never be giving your dog the “leave it” treat. REMEMBER to do this as soon as they, even for a second, back off.
  • Once the dog is consistently leaving the treat alone, start to add the verbal cue “leave it”
  • Once the dog understands the term “leave it”, you can up the criteria using an open hand.
  • Does your dog have that down pat? Now move onto putting food or toys on the floor, “leave it” and then releasing them with your release command. “OK”, “BREAK”, “FREE”, or whatever you have chosen to use.

If you are feeding your dog off of the counter while cooking dinner, or off of your plate while eating, it is making your dog to think that there are treats for him on there, therefore causing him to beg or counter surf. Giving your dog treats from your dinner is OK as long as you wait until you are done eating, and give it to them in their dish or away from the eating situation. REMEMBER that your dog is always learning and you are always training! Once your dog gets really good at leave it, start adding it into your walks when he is trying to eat something he shouldn’t, or is barking at a dog walking past.

Drop It

  • Start with some treats. Say “DROP” and drop a few treats on the ground. Make sure to point to the treats so your dog gets used to your hand being near whatever he is dropping. Do this 5-10 times in a row.
  • If your dog loves toys, start with something that isn’t his favorite. “DROP” drop the toy, pick it up, and give him a treat. If your dog picks up the toy, say “DROP” and offer him something better in return when he drops it.
  • Now, give the toy to your dog. Say “DROP” and offer him something better, either a high value treat, or toy he likes more.
  • Continue to go through these exercises using objects/food of more value to him. If he ever stops dropping the toy, back up a few steps.

Jumping

Jumping is similar to nipping. You always want to set your pup up for success and reward them for the behavior you want. Pushing them down is also rewarding them because they want attention. They jump up to be closer to your hands and face, they are also used to getting treats from above them. Consistency here is key. Make sure the whole family and any visitors now not to give the puppy ANY attention when they are jumping up.

  • Walk away from the puppy, as they come up to you put a treat on the ground in front of them before they have a chance to jump up. This is teaching the puppy that good things come when they stay on the ground.
  • Now continue to walk around and as the pup gets to you, treat on the ground. Continue this for about 3- 5 minute sessions a day.
  • REMEMBER if the pup starts to jump on you, wait them out and reward on the ground when they stop.
  • Make sure to have treats at the front door when you come home or guests come over!
  • If your puppy gets MUCH too excited when people come over, put them in a room or their kennel when they first come. After your guests get settled, let the puppy out and make sure they treat him on the ground and do not give him any attention when they are jumping up or nipping. You can even have your puppy on leash and reward him for calm behavior, ask for sits, etc…..

Well folks this is a great starting point for all you new puppy owners out there! What is my NUMBER ONE RECOMMENDATION FOR PUPPY OWNERS you ask?!?!? Enroll your puppy in a socialization class!!!!!!! Your puppy is at SUCH a pivotal age where anything can change how he sees the world. Socialization is super important to get your puppy used to new people, sounds, objects, surfaces, etc…As well as to teach them focus and basic obedience. Send me an e-mail if you are interested in enrolling your pup in my upcoming classes desiree.mckay@gmail.com or look for a positive reinforcement trainer near you!

Do you have a puppy? What has been the hardest part about training? Let me know in the comments below!

Why I HATE Retractable Leashes

I know, I know, hate is a pretty strong word that I don’t throw around very often but in this case I stand behind it 100%. I HATE retractable leashes! Why you ask? Let me give you just a few of the MANY reasons.

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  • You have little to no control over your dog. Giving your dog this type of freedom on a walk is TEACHING them to pull on leash. Something I see all of the time that drives me crazy is someone walking their dog on a retractable leash WITH a pinch collar on….These are contradicting each other. The leash is telling them to pull because they have so much slack to do so, but the pinch is painfully stopping them from doing so. If you want your dog to walk nicely on leash, get a standard 6′ or shorter one. This way you are in control and can work on training them not to pull. Not only do these leashes teach your dog bad leash manners, it also undoes much of your obedience training. Getting them to focus on you with all that freedom? Forget it!
  • They can create fear issues in your dog. These leashes are NOT very strong and have malfunctions happen to them all of the time. The mechanisms inside stop working, or the cord snaps at the end and hits your dog. This can cause your dog to associate that hurt with you, something walking by like a dog or child, or walking in general and now they have fear issues. This can also cause them to possibly run away if they get snapped with the end. Another issue is the large handle. If you drop this it will scare many dogs and cause them to run away from you. It is almost impossible to get them back because they continue to run away from the “big, scary, loud thing chasing them”.
  • They cause some pretty serious injuries. Have you ever had one of those lines caught around your wrist or ankle while your dog is running? OUCH! It causes some awful rope burn and really cuts into the skin. Not only can this happen to humans or children, but it can also happen to other dogs causing a fight. This has happened to me before when walking Nanu. Nanu generally is slightly nervous around other dogs but is so good now I don’t really worry about her meeting other dogs too much. We were on a walk last summer at the lake and another, small, dog on a retractable leash came up to say hello. This dog was circling Nanu while they were sniffing and the line got caught around one of Nanu’s legs. This was very painful and caused her to bite this dog on the scruff! Thank goodness Nanu didn’t cause any real damage because that could have ended very differently than it did. I also had to work her confidence back up to meet smaller dogs on walks as she was very uneasy for the next few months after that.

leash injury

  • Unnecessary and unavoidable tension. Your dog is running, thinks he has all of the room in the world and then BANG he reaches the end of the leash. If another dog is around and they are about to play, this can cause the dog to associate this tension with the other dog therefore starting a dog fight. Have you ever tried to break up a dog fight with a dog on a retractable leash? By the time you get to your dog, they are fighting and so tangled in the leash that it is near impossible. Not to mention the damage the leash is possibly doing to either dog or human involved.

Well, end rant I suppose! What kind of leash do you use? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Is Your Dog Listening? Common Mistakes in Dog Training

I recently read a great article on some of the most common mistakes made when training your dog. This inspired me to write about some of the errors I have noticed in my classes and private training sessions.

Dogs obviously don’t speak our language, therefore do not understand what you are asking of them until you teach them. If your dog isn’t listening to you, it is because they don’t understand what you are asking. They also don’t do things out of spite, they do things because they are bored, or they are getting some kind of reward out of the behavior.

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1. Saying the cue before the dog understand what it means

When you begin to train your dog to do a new behavior, until they catch on, they don’t know what you are asking them to do. Therefore when you say the word “sit” and they don’t do it, they won’t learn what that word actually means. First lure your dog into the position with a treat, or wait until he sits on his own. Once he gets the hang of it and starts offering it to you, then start incorporating the verbal cue.

2. Saying the cue more than once

I see this ALL the time.  Like I mentioned before, dogs do not understand us until we teach them to. Therefore when we say “sit, sit, sit, sit….” they aren’t learning the specific word, or action for that word. All they hear is a jumble of sounds, similar to how the adults sound on Charlie Brown. OR they are learning that the cue is “sit, sit” so you say it once, nothing, then you say it again and they respond. They are waiting for you to say it twice. In consequence, they are also learning that they don’t have to listen to this command every time. An example of this is when you call your dog to come in from outside “come” and they don’t listen, they are thinking that they don’t have to, or can whenever they want.

3. Asking your dog to do something while they are distracted by something else

Is your dog sniffing that tree, or trying to chase that rabbit? Well, they likely are not going to listen to you asking them to “sit” or “come” as you are not going to be as exciting as whatever they are focused on. Therefore, you don’t want to be asking them one of these cues because they will learn that they don’t have to listen to it! This is where treats come in. Make sure to use a high value treat in environments where there are a lot of distractions. Examples include, chicken, liver, tuna, hot dogs, smelly cheese, etc while on a walk. Use a sound to get your dog to pay attention to you, or use an excited “Let’s GO” cue to get him moving. Once he is paying attention to you completely, then ask for a behavior.

4. Down/Off cues

When teaching your dog a new behavior, remember to have a different name for each one that is easy to understand. A common training mishap I see people making is using “down” for lay down, and getting off of the couch or counter. So, use “down” for lay down, and use “off” for getting your dog to move off of something. Dog’s can learn a lot of new behaviors over time, just make sure they are all distinguishable and you will have your dog getting you a drink out of the fridge in no time!

5. Lack of verbal marker or clicker

This is always the first topic that I go over in all of my obedience classes. Your dog will catch on to what you are teaching them much faster if you use either a verbal marker or a clicker.  The marker, such as “YES” or a click, is used as soon as your dog does the behavior, and then you treat. Just as your dog’s butt is hitting the ground “YES” or click, and treat.  This will teach your dog that when they hear the marker, they are doing what you ask and will therefore learn much quicker. They may even start to offer you a bunch of known behaviors until they hear that click and then they will understand exactly what you want them to do. For more information on clicker training, check out my blog here.

6. Too much too soon

Remember, you always want to set your dog up for success. Did you do some recall training inside for 5 minutes and they were so good at it you took it outside but they wouldn’t come back to you? That is because you added in too many distractions too soon. You want to continue to work on the training with minimal distractions and slowly add in others over time. The slower you go, the stronger their response will be to whatever you are asking them to do. Again, make sure to bring a HIGH VALUE treat when adding a new distraction. If you ever get frustrated, take a break!

7. Rewarding unwanted behavior

 Does your dog keep jumping on you no matter how much you push them away or say “no”? Or do they continue to pull you over to snuff stuff while on a walk? That is because you are rewarding the unwanted behavior! Think about when your dog does something bad, are they getting some sort of reward from it? For example, when they jump on the counter, are they getting a snack? Or when they bark at the window, is the dog walking away? They are either self rewarding, or getting a reward from you. When a dog is jumping up at you, you pushing them away is still what they want, it is attention. Try to ignore that bad behavior and reward your dog when they are sitting calmly! When your dog is pulling you on leash, they are getting the reward of either going forward or getting to sniff what they are interested in. Try stopping and not moving until they offer you a loose leash. Keep your counters clean, or curtains drawn during peak walking hours during the day. Your dog is never trying to be the “alpha” dog, he is doing things because he gets something out of it. For more information on the alpha/dominance theory click here.

Do any of these sound familiar to you? You will be surprised at how much difference just a small change can make when training your dog. All dogs can learn new behaviors, you just have to learn how to teach them.

What mistakes have you noticed yourself making? Let me know in the comments below!

Is Your Dog Trying To Be The Alpha? Doubt It!

Unfortunately many trainers still believe in the dominance/alpha theory. This is harmful because it prevents owners from understanding what their dog is actually trying to tell them.

This “dogs are wolves” theory started in the late 1960s. The underlying meaning is that because dogs and wolves are the same species, they must behave the same way. A man by the name of David Mech trapped several wolves and put them all in a pen to observe them. He came to the conclusion that wolves “pack” and “dominate” each other, therefore dogs must do the same, right? Wrong.

wolves

As science advanced, Mech continued his research but started to observe wolves in their natural habitat. He came to a much different conclusion, the model of the wolf’s supposed “fight for dominance and alpha status” was replaced with one where parents and older siblings guide and lead the younger ones. Now, Mech has written and edited many books on this subject stating why his earlier observations were misinformed and explaining his observations of packs in the wild.

Since that time, studies of the domestic dog have also moved on. It has been well established that the social behavior of the domestic dog is not the same as a wolf. Humans have been breeding dogs for thousands of years to not only work for them, but to be companions. These adaptations have removed the need for them to operate as their wild ancestors. Although dogs do congregate in groups around resources, they do not form packs in the cohesive family way that wolves still do.

The concept of “dominance” itself has never been a quality of an individual, but the product of a relationship. In fact, the relationship of the pet dog to human, is much more complicated than to just label it as one trying to “dominate” the other. Dogs do certain things because they are getting some sort of positive reward from it. They jump on the counter because they find food, not because they are trying to show you that they are “alpha” and can do whatever they want, they bite people because they are scared and people misread or ignored their warning signs.

person-and-dog

Dog training has come a long way scientifically and to continue to label so many issues as “dominant” and “alpha” is doing a disservice to the dog and owner. So get some treats, and start rewarding for the behavior you want and you will in turn, have a great partnership for many years to come!

Interested in leaning more? Check out this great article here!

“Squirrel? WHERE?!?” Training a Reliable Recall

Does your dog come when called? Let me rephrase the question. Does your dog come when called immediately, no matter where you are,what you are doing, or what is around you? The majority of the dog owning population will say that generally their dog comes to them when called inside the house, or in the yard, but not as much at the dog park. A response I get when I ask about how someone’s dog’s recall is at the dog park is “Well, they don’t come when I call, but they don’t go too far.” Well, what if a squirrel is across a busy street, your dog gets out the door and bolts. You call for him but he is too distracted by the squirrel. A good recall can save your dog’s life, not to mention is a great training tool!

Now, how do we become more exciting than said squirrel? Depending on your dog’s personality, this can be a long process but by using positive reinforcement, setting your dog up for success, and making training fun, the end result will be worth it.

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Focus

Step 1:

Start in an area with few distractions like a room in your house, or your yard.

  • Get some tasty treats, something soft and cut into pea-sized pieces as your dog will be getting a lot of them.
  • Have your dog sit in front of you on leash, when he gives you eye contact, “YES”, or click (if you use a clicker) and treat.
  • Make sure you reward your dog when he is looking at you, not while he is looking away, or else you are training him that looking away gets a treat.
  • Once your dog has this step down, add in some distractions, either the backyard, driveway, or on a walk.
  • REMEMBER, you aren’t using the word “come” yet.

Step 2:

  • Now start moving backwards away from your dog. Reward for him following and looking at you. Make sure to make it REALLY fun!
  • Once your dog has this step down, add in some distractions, either the backyard, driveway, or on a walk.

Step 3 – Leave It:

  • The next step is to toss a treat, out of his reach, when he goes towards it, he is learning that when he isn’t focusing on you, he doesn’t get the treat. Make a whistle sound to get him back to you, reward for eye contact, say “OK!” and walk on a loose leash to go get the treat you tossed on the ground. This is also teaching your dog to ask permission before running off and playing with that other dog, or chasing a rabbit.
  • Now start walking around and having your dog follow you. Treat for eye contact and focus.
  • Once your dog has this step down, add in some distractions, either the backyard, driveway, or on a walk.
  • Once your dog begins to leave the tossed treat before you give the “ok” cue, start incorporating “leave it”.

Step 4:

  • Now graduate to a long lead. If you have a very strong dog, I would recommend investing in a proper one from the pet store over one from Dollarama.
  • You may need to start inside if your dog is getting too distracted with his new found “freedom”
  • Go through the steps in exercises 1-3.
  • Add in a fun chase game! Say “Let’s Go” or whatever term you choose, and run the other way! When your dog reaches you and sits, reward him. Reward him to getting to you and sitting, and then reward for his continued focus being on you.
  • You can also start incorporating a fun game like tug when your dog gets to you. You never want your dog to come to you, and have the fun stop. Make sure to play a bit of a game or give some free treats before leashing and leaving the park.

Now that your dog is coming to you every time, start incorporating the term “come”. Start inside with no distractions to introduce the cue and move up from there. When you start your dog off leash, go through all of the steps again. REMEMBER if your dog ever stops focusing on you, back up a step, change up the treat or toy, or take a break. Although you are consistently training, specific training sessions should never be more than 3-5 minutes long, depending on the age of your dog.

REWARD your dog every time he comes to you throughout your day. When he comes to you, make it SUPER fun.

Does your dog have great recall? What training methods worked for you?

Dogs: Not Too Cool For School

Scenario 1: You just got a new puppy or adult dog and think, “I won’t do classes with this one because I did with the last one and I still have the notes.”

Scenario 2: You have had your dog for years and you think, “I’ve had my dog for 5 years, I don’t need to take any classes now.”

Scenario 3: You think, “My dog already knows sit, down, and stay, I don’t need a training class.”

Sure, classes are a great learning experience for your dog, but that isn’t the only benefit. Training classes are a great way to create a bond with your pet, entertain them during the cold winter months, getting them involved in great activities, having one on one time with one of your multiple pets, and training impulse control.

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“Who’s Walking Who” leash manners workshop

Puppy Socialization

Socialization is so important and your dog is never too young to start training! Your dog will start to imprint fears in the early stages of his life, therefore it is important to safely introduce him to new situations. Puppy socialization classes are a great learning tool as the puppies learn to be around other dogs and people in a safe environment.

My Puppy Manners class focuses on helping to raise a well-mannered, balanced dog. You will learn fundamental obedience skills through games and interactive exercises, with a focus on techniques to help prevent puppy nipping, chewing, and jumping.

Puppy Manners is about building a stronger bond with your pup, and practicing daily skills with other dogs and people in new environments.

Basic Obedience

When a dog hits about 8-9 months old (exact age can vary depending on the breed) it is officially in his adolescents and can stay in this life stage until close to 2 years. Training your dog during this time is important because they will start getting more interested in outside distractions and may listen a little less, even when given commands they already know.

My Basic Obedience class focuses on basic obedience skills for dogs eight months and up. We  cover the basics, including sit, stay and down, but this class is so much more than that!

Our focus is helping you to connect with your dog by creating a lasting bond. By the end of this class, you’ll have a strong understanding of your dog’s body language as well as know how to exercise your dog both mentally and physically!

Advanced Obedience

Continuing on with your training is a great way to mentally stimulate your dog. Dogs were bred to have jobs so learning new tricks/tasks keeps their life more interesting, makes them want to please you, and keeps them from chewing up your shoes while you aren’t home.

My Advanced Obedience class dives deep into formal obedience. Topics include: sit-stays and down-stays at a distance, sit-stays and down-stays for long time periods, greeting behaviour and impulse control.

A mentally stimulated dog is a happy dog!

A mentally stimulated dog is a happy dog!

REMEMBER: There are a lot of classes out there! I try and switch up my classes all the time so I am offering something new, and focus on what participants want to learn. Don’t want to do another obedience class? Try a for fun agility class, or a few fun workshops! I offer workshops on specific types of socializing for puppies, fun tricks, hand targeting, leash manners, and more!

A dog is NEVER too old to learn new tricks!

If you are interested in taking one of my classes click here for more information and to register.

All classes are $120, 15% discount is given to Manitoba Underdogs Rescue alumni, and $10 off for all dogs adopted from a rescue/shelter. Classes are held at the Riverview Community Center at 90 Ashland Ave, Winnipeg, MB.

Not from Winnipeg? Make sure to find a positive reinforcement trainer near you!

Setting Your Dog up for Success

How is your dog training going? It your dog succeeding in whatever you are teaching him? If not, perhaps you are doing too much too fast or using the wrong treats.

Setting Your Dog up for Success

REMEMBER, starting small and setting your dog up for success is the key to training. Start inside, where your dog will be completely focused on you. Once your dog has mastered the task, start adding in distractions. If you move up a step and your dog stops paying attention to you, either move back a step, try a different treat, or take a break. Five 3-5 minute sessions will be much more productive than one long session.

  1. Start inside with no distractions. This way, your dog will only focus on you.
  2. Move outside to the back yard, or the driveway.
  3. Add it in during your walks.
  4. Add it in at the dog park while off leash, or other highly populated areas.

Here is a chart with the varying places of training and what treats should be used at each time.

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This is just a general chart. These can obviously adjust depending on your dog’s tastes.

Four Keys to Successful Training

  1. Patience – Be patient with your dog. If you become frustrated, your dog will sense that and not understand your expectations. It’s best to train frequently for short periods of time and always end on a good note.
  2. Set them up for success – You have to let your dog succeed in order for them to move ahead successfully. If you move your dog forward too quickly, you will never get to where you would like.
  3. You are always training – Just because your training “session” has ended, keep rewarding your dog for offering you good behavior!
  4. Consistency – Just like kids, it is important for dogs to have rules and boundaries. It is also important that ALL family members follow the rules and participate in the exercises. Consistency is the key to a well-mannered dog.

Some soft bought treats that are my favorite are Zukes. They come in 2 different sized packages, a variety of flavors, are made in North America, and are only 3 calories a treat! REMEMBER, you will be using A LOT of treats during training time so make sure to adjust your dog’s regular food intake so they don’t gain any unwanted weight.

What is your dog’s favorite treat? Let me know in the comments below!