Diary of a dog trainer: March 25, 2016

It’s Good Friday! And it has been so good to my doggies. They slept in until 11:30 am (they were never early risers), got to go to the dog park twice today, were walked 5 times (each walk was between 45 minutes to an hour) and a trip to the pet store (which was closed booooo).

Kingsley and Bella are both great loose leash walkers. Sometimes they decide to try to wonder off while being attached to me, and I just stop until they get back to me and continue our walk. I have lower back issues so I cannot be pulled or dragged.

When we got to the park, Kingsley and Bella were super excited. Kingsley loves to play with bigger dogs so when he saw a Great Dane (Rory), they hit it off instantly. Kingsley and Rory were running together for about 30 minutes. They played by jumping beside each other, sniffing each other, were running into each other, pawing and were bowing to each other constantly. Another doggie came in between and demanded attention by barking at Rory and Kingsley. Kingsley doesn’t like chaos and loudness, so he walked away.

This brings me to my next point – how do you know if a dog is interested in playing with your dog? Watching your dog and other dog’s body language is key in safe interactions. Dogs that want your dog to play with them and vice versa have  wiggly and curved bodies (not tense muscles and posture) with loose tail wags, pawing, head press, hip nudge, inguinal sniffs, nose to nose touching and play bow. These are say “come and play with me” “I’m relaxed” “I am ok with you around me”.

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Can you think of other body language signs?

Until next time!

suzcur
http://www.ispeakdog.ca

 

 

 

 

Diary of a dog trainer: March 23 & 24, 2016

The weather has been a bit bipolar. It’s been freezing rain and freezing temperatures so dog training has been cancelled with most of my clients as we mostly train outside.

My dogs and I went for a walk. It was difficult to walk so we made it short.

We had our cute golden doodle Charlie over last night. He stayed for 7 hours and played his little heart out with Bella and Kingsley.

Stay tuned for more updates!

 

Diary of a dog trainer: March 22, 2016

Loud music woke me up at 5:30 AM from my new neighbors. I got up and decided to take my dogs out that early for an hour walk. They protested. They didn’t want to get up. They usually don’t before 10am. But I was persistent and with the smell of their favourite treats, we ended up going for our walk.

Our walk was dark. It wasn’t cold. We went down Queen St. West to Shaw, down to King St. West, back to Sudbury and ended up back on Queen St. West. Doggies got to smell, tweet and walk. As soon as they got home, they had no interest in food or water, just the couch. And 5 minutes later, the hit the snoozeland.

I went on with my day.

After being away for 8 hours, I came home and my doggies were still exhausted. David (my spouse) took them to the park and a long walk. I decided to surprise them  with our neighbor’s dog Charlie (the golden doodle). We went for a walk in the rain, ended up in a dog park for 15 minutes as doggies had to catch up on their daily news, and continued with our walk back home. Doggies ended up being very wet. As soon as we got home, they started to play and chew each other’s faces off. All in good fun.

At 8 pm, I had to leave the doggies to go see one of my clients. We worked on ‘drop it’ and desensitization towards knocking. Little furball did amazing. His pawrent reported that he had reactivity to other dogs today but it is understandable as we just started working on it. Things will definitely get better with more exposure and practice. All my clients so far can definitely share their frustrations with their own’s dog reactivity however once they got it under control and taught their dogs to self – regulate, frustrations disappeared.

Great day!

suzcur

 

Diary of a dog trainer: March 21, 2016

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Today I  took Kingsley (my shy Olde English Bulldog) to a park in Liberty Village Off Leash Dog Area to see his best friend Oliver (Australian Shepard). It took us about 30 minutes to get there.

The moment we got there, dogs started to bark at him. As usual, he avoids conflict at all times and just walks to the quiet corner. He was waiting for his best friend and when he saw him, he decided to lay low until he came closer and surprise him by jumping out at him. They played for good 30 minutes.

There were other dogs who started causing issues with dogs outside the park and majority of dogs joined in with barking, jumping up, growling and Kingsley just stayed by me. He does not like chaos, drama, loudness and conflicts.

Then we walked home for good 45 minutes. I was frozen when I got home and he fell down and started to snore.

The day ended with another favourite client of mine. He is the tiniest little Morkie and working on being confident. Tonight we worked on desensitization and counter conditioning to cyclists.

I wanted to end on telling you all how much I love seeing all my clients succeed and practice. Tonight I got tagged by one of my favourites (did you catch on that ALL my clients are my favourites) to show that they have been working on getting their big pup inside the crate and succeeded? All through positive reinforcement training! So proud!

Until next time!

suzcur

March 20, 2016: Diary of a dog trainer

10514475_10101707399674741_6431137715153686089_nThere are good days and challenging days when working with people to change the behavior of their dogs. Especially if they believe that their dogs are stubborn (dogs are not stubborn and cannot be stubborn; it is what you teach them, how you teach them and follow through; you can’t expect a dog to know something if you haven’t taught him) or in using aversive techniques (shock collars or physical punishment). Sometimes people have say that they have tried everything and absolutely give up. Sometimes they just avoid going outside during peak hours and avoid meeting other dogs and owners as they feel embarrassed. The best part of my job is when I change their behavior and their feelings in regards to dog and human behavior thought using positive reinforcement training. I pride myself on teaching you and your dog though positive reinforcement and changing unwanted behaviours with humane training methods.

I had an amazing training day today.

I had people direct message me through instagram to help with training and I have given some great tips to minimize distractions while training, increase skill acquisition and how to utilize positive reinforcement training.

Client 1: My very first client of day and his owner are my absolute favourites. His owner has tried different training methods and when she first contacted me, she was skeptical about positive reinforcement training. Every time she sees me, she tells me that while other trainers worked on her dog’s behavior, I helped her so much by teaching her, giving her feedback in the moment and gradually exposed her to other dogs with her dog as she has had anxiety. Every time I see her and her dog, I see changes and I see that she is able to safely manage the situation. I am beyond proud of her for being open to my training methods with her and her dog.

Client 2: It was my very first session with him today. He was very open to me modeling the techniques for his owner and his owners saw how easy it was to teach loose leash walking using humane training methods (i.e., harness and treats). Then we went outside and practiced desensitization and counter conditioning to other dogs. Distance is # 1 important training tool when working on gradual exposure to other dogs. Once he saw his trigger (dog), I demonstrated for his owner what to do, which was to give treats as soon as he saw the trigger and continue to give treats as the trigger was in view. The she took over and she felt a bit nervous (which is totally a normal feeling as you are learning a new skill and you want your dog to succeed). It was a very good first session. Practice makes perfect!

The rest of my clients cancelled and I ended up training my dogs, taking them to the park and walking. We did 10 km per one outing so they are currently snoring while I write my very first entry for my newest project.

Thank you all for reading and I hope to inspire you to use positive training to inspire, teach, educate and train others to train their dogs.

suzcur
http://www.ispeakdog.ca

 

Separation anxiety and dogs

10514475_10101707399674741_6431137715153686089_nIn order to help a dog that has separation anxiety, it will take time, consistency, dedication, patience, and being able to teach and follow through. Dogs with separation anxiety lack confidence and the best way to gain confidence is through exercise, training and positive reinforcement.

Things you can do from puppyhood:

  • Teach your dogs tricks, puppy manners, leash walking, basic obedience, socialization. This way your puppy will work for something and by reinforcing your puppy, he or she will build confidence
  • Expose your puppies to as many places, people, environments, dogs and reinforce them for being good or responding appropriately to different situations
  • Get your puppy toys where he or she can play on their own as opposed to being with you 24/7
  • Get your puppies to sleep in their own space and praise them through the roof for that
  • Leave your home without your puppy. Leave for 15 min the first day, then for 30 min, then slowly increase to and hour, two hours and so on. I took 4 weeks off when we got Bella and we practiced leaving her each and every day. Don’t leave your puppy alone for too long due to potty training.
  • Exercise your puppies by taking them for walks, runs, different places, having structured play (i.e, tug or hide and seek), get them toys so they can play on their own AND  train your puppies. Training gets them mentally stimulated and puppies get tired so quickly and this way, when they sleep, you can leave for a bit (to practice separation from your puppy).
  • Don’t fuss over your dog like an overprotective parent – you will most likely create an insecure dog

The things you can do to help your dog:

  • If your dog is very clingy, avoid having your dog spend every minute sleeping on you or playing with you; instead have toys filled with treats or toys that are puzzles, so your dog can play on his own
  • Exercise your dogs, train and then show affection. Exercise helps decrease excitability and increases your dog’s focus and attention on you (i.e., for training, not getting bored and destructive in your house and so on).
  • Try to limit your attention to your dog. Let them have their own time by providing them with toys or letting them sleep in their own bed. Remember that you can love your dog without smothering him.
  • Train your dogs to build confidence (by training and praising them, they will have something to work for, therefore build confidence). Training your dogs is the best way to build confidence!!!
  • Practice leaving them for one minute (and get back inside as soon as they are quiet) and increase the time as they get more quiet and confident
  • Taking them for play dates and daycares

The things you can do to hinder your dog’s progress:

  • Inadvertently praising them for being scared
  • Smothering them
  • Being overly protective
  • Giving in and feeding their anxiety
  • Being overly reactive to things
  • Being nervous
  • Being with them 24/7
  • Giving them attention 24/7
  • Not training your dogs
  • Not giving them enough exercise

Steps to help your dog gain confidence and decrease separation anxiety:

  • First and foremost, start training your dog and building confidence.
  • Exercise your dogs. Provide agility, running, chucking the ball, your dog may wear a backpack to decrease energy and excitability, make your dog work for your attention, food treats, water and so on. By working for it, I mean give him or her a command (i.e., sit or stay).
  • Get toys so your dog can enjoy time on his/her own (i.e., kongs or other stuffer toys)
  • If your dog isn’t into toys, spread treats all over your place so he or she can sniff it out on their own (something they can do on their own)
  • Start separating yourself slowly from the dog. For example, your dog can be engaged playing in your living room and you can be one step away from your dog. Then slowly more to two steps away, three steps and so on until you can be in another room  or at the door (entrance door) without your dog clinging or wining to be with you. Praise through the roof (by just dropping treats) for playing on their own or for tolerating you away from them.
  • Slowly start leaving your dog at home. Start with 1 minute and come back as soon as your dog is quiet. Increase the time by another minute or 5 minutes. Then slowly go for 15 minutes, 30 minutes and so on. It is important to do this gradually and step by step.
  • Once you get back home, praise your dog for being quiet.
  • Praise your dog any time she or he is not with you or when they are playing on their own.
  • You can set up an alarm or a timer and write down your observations.
  • Use positive reinforcement training. Building confidence will happen faster with treats as opposed to yelling and them.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me. I can help you with step by step exposure for your pup/dog.