Friday, January 21, 2011

Baby It's Cold Outside.........So Lets Train Inside

Don't let the cold Michigan weather keep you from training and socializing your dog.   With the single digit temps we've been having,  it's easy to see why most people opt out of outdoor activities with their dog.   It is however  important to remember that our puppies and dogs need ongoing socialization.    Just like people, dogs get 'cabin fever' so make sure they're not spending too much time at home watching life go by from the living room window.

With the help of our good friends at Wags To Wiskers Ann Arbor and Chelsea we are now offering Indoor Socialization Outings.  The Outings are open to all K9 Home Schooling students 12 weeks of age and older. 

The class is 1 hour and limited to 4 students.   It's an opportunity to be around other dogs practice skills learned in class and meet and greet strangers.   Whether we are practicing loose leash walking or polite greetings, it's a fun and WARM opportunity to train your dog. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

If You Hear Barking..........Sing Louder!

Over the past year I've taken Faye on many outings in our never ending quest of new people, places and things.  Today she made her first visit to Church.  We have a big  congregation so there was alot of activity.    Even though Faye has spent her entire life working in public I know that taking her to a new place means this is going to be a training exercise not a social visit.  Entering a new building means new smells, new sounds and new people.   Training in public is part of a working dogs life, here are a few tips to help you and your dog be successful.

Setting Them Up For Success
The key to having a successful training session is setting your dog up for success and having realistic training goals.  To do this start by having a clear, well thought out plan,  this helps you and your dog not feel stressed.   Any time you work your dog in a new environment you can expect to see some degrading of training.   Because dogs don't generalize well, we need to give them opportunities to practice learned skills in a variety of environments.   When you enter a new environment let your dog sniff around for a few minutes and explore this new place.  It's not a good idea to start firing off cues the moment you arrive,  even the most basic skills like Sit and Down may fall on deaf ears if your dog is nervous or distracted.   Once your dog has relaxed, begin practicing skills that your dog knows, set them up for success. 

Recruit The Help Of Strangers
There are dog lovers everywhere and who doesn't want to pet an adorable dog.  I always recruit the help of strangers when I'm training my dogs.  Because we are always working on 'good manners' I ask people to be a 'friendly stranger' and pet my dog as long as they keep 'four on the floor'.   I also ask people to ignore my dog, this allows my dog to learn to settle and not always be the center of attention. 

Forget The Fancy Stuff and Keep It Simple
As tempting as it can be to want to show off all your dogs 'bells and whistles', I find it more beneficial to work on basic skills and reward/reinforce calm behavior.   You may not think there is anything impressive about having your dog lay at your feet, but think again, how many dogs do you see in public who can just chill out and relax.   

Have A Good Sense Of Humor
Yep, you got it, this should be fun too.   I never go into any situation expecting my young untrained dog to be a superstar.  These are learning opportunities and I definitely learn something every time I train in public.   As we entered church today I wondered if Faye would be quiet during the service?   She is typically not a barky dog, but just in case she decided to have a vocal moment,  I prepared people.  "If you hear barking..........SING LOUDER!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Happy Birthday Faye---Oh What A Year It's Been!

Today we are celebrating Lafayette (Fayes) first Birthday!!    I am always surprised how quickly the first year goes by.  Those first few weeks with a new puppy are so busy and tiring, there is never a dull moment.  But in the blink of an eye our sweet little Faye is turning 1 year old.  It has been a fun filled year living with Faye, she's got it all, beauty, brains and personality. 

Faye began training at 9 weeks old by attending my group classes with the help of our good friend Judy who worked as her handler so I could teach the rest of my students :)   My hardworking Assistants Joy and Jacob were always there to lend a hand too.

Along with training, Faye has made many friends along the way both human and canine.  She works hard but I make sure she plays hard too.  Whether it meant standing in the freezing cold , wading in a lake or logging hundreds of miles on walks, Faye has had no shortage of outdoor fun. 

As a Therapy Dog In Training we are always working and training in the community, lots of outings, visiting the Hospital, local stores, schools, parades, the list is endless.  As I have watched Faye grow and mature this past year I'm so excited to see her well on her way to becoming a Therapy Dog.   Again, many thanks to our good friend Judy for helping us train, we couldn't have done it without her.

Even though Faye loves to have fun, her favorite activity is hanging with Leo and she does it very well. 

We look forward to spending many more wonderful years with Faye, Happy Birthday Fayby!!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Do You Know What You Need?

On average I receive numerous calls per week from people inquiring about training services for their dog.   I offer a variety of services and quite often people are unsure about what type of training they need.   It seems as though it should be fairly straight forward, unfortunately that's not always the case.  There is not a one-size-fits-all when it comes to training.  There is basic obedience training, puppy socialization, behavior consultations, behavior modification and play/exercise.   Every situation is different and knowing what service you need depends on a variety of factors.  Here are some of the calls I receive, do you know what training service you would recommend?

Our new puppy keeps biting our kids when they play with him, he chases them too.

Our Golden Retriever jumps on our guests and licks everybody.

Our 9 months old dog barks when guests enter and growls at them too.

When ever we approach our 9 week old puppy while he's eating he growls at us and tries to bite us.

Our dog is really sweet but does not listen to a word we say

Our 7 year old dog is suddenly very nervous and anxious

I'm sure some of these sound familiar :)  Not all unruly dogs need behavior consults and not all puppies should be in a group class, how is that for confusing *grin*.   When you find yourself in need of help with your dog,  the best thing you can do is contact a professional and ask for guidance.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Obedient Owners Make Great Pet Parents

I believe that most people are under the assumption that Dog Training is just for their dog.   The hope is that by enrolling your puppy or dog in a class, Fido will learn how to behave in our human world.   I always enjoy the first night of class, meeting new families and preparing everyone for our 6 week adventure in training.    Everyone enters class with different goals and objectives, but the one thing they all have in common is wanting their dog to be better behaved and learn the 'house rules'

As a dog trainer there are two questions I get more than any others:

“How do I get my dog to stop doing (insert annoying, yet often natural, behavior here)?”

“How do I punish my dog when he’s just being bad?”

All to often these puppies and dogs are labeled difficult, aggressive, hard headed, spiteful, dominant, the list goes on and on.   When you feel frustrated with your dog’s behavior, remember that someone must teach a dog what is acceptable behavior and what is not. A dog that has not been given any instructions, training or boundaries can’t possibly know what you expect of him.   It's equally as important to understand that  WE the humans must take the time to learn how to properly teach a dog.   When students enter my class my goal is not to train your dog, but to train you how to work with your dog.    To train a dog you must understand what is normal dog behavior, how to socialize dogs, how to enrich their environment and most importantly how dogs learn.  There is so much information available on TV and the Internet it can be overwhelming and confusing.    Our society loves a 'quick fix' but in reality training a puppy or dog takes time and behavior problems are even more complicated so quick fixes as seen on TV are fantasy not reality.    We can eliminate so much of the frustration by learning a few basics about canine learning theory, which is understanding how dogs learn,.   Once we know how to communicate with our four legged friends we can be great teachers!   

We have a "Recommended Resources' link on my website to direct you to great books, websites and videos on raising and training dogs.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Remembering 2010

To all the wonderful dogs and their families who made 2010 a GREAT Year! 

Hope to see you in 2011!

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