February 2015 clients

February is a short month, but it was busy! We’ve been seeing lots of sweet clients and we are so fortunate to assist you with your training needs. It’s been fun to get to know new clients and continue with existing clients. There is never a boring moment in dog training! Thanks for entrusting our expertise for your fabulous pooches. :)

Click on the below photo icons to view a slideshow of all our adorable February clients, and don’t forget to check out our Flickr site for other past slideshows. We also have a lot more photos and other great content on our Facebook page, so please like our page and follow us for more great stuff.

Frida Daphne Peanut Gruner Molly Rainbow Henry Daphne Luna Aria Stella Penny Pumpkin Sulley Bruiser Tucker Aidan Hobbes Daisy Oliver Zooey and Roxy

Also appreciated but not pictured: Charley aka “Chuck Norris” the Labrador retriever.

Thank you,
Laura
Owner, Delightful Doggies

Client of the month: Frida the blue heeler mix

Congratulations to our February client spotlight, Frida the blue heeler mix!

Frida is a proud Puppy Preschool graduate!

Frida is a proud Puppy Preschool graduate!

Frida has completed our Puppy Preschool program, and is cruising right along in our Finishing School program. Recently she has developed “down” as a solid default behavior, and is learning how to “leave it” and enjoy fun with the flirt pole! We have a lot of fun with her in class, and she has an awesome tuxedo cat brother, Alfonso, who also enjoys demonstrating how smart and sassy he is. It’s a pretty adorable household. :)

Frida was adopted from the MaxFund shelter by her mother, who has done an awesome job at giving her the best start in life. She has given her a great diet, a variety of enrichment toys and activities, and is committed to reward-based training methods. It’s a real joy working with all of them to see “Ms. Smarty Pants” (our affectionate nickname for Frida) flourish!

Thank you for choosing Delightful Doggies for your training needs! It’s a lot of fun working with Frida, Alfonso and their mother!
Laura
Owner, Delightful Doggies

How being a dog trainer has changed my life

I’m such a lucky person. Not everyone gets to do something about which they feel so passionately, and enjoy so much. My life has not only changed in terms of loving what I do, but in myriad other ways!

I get to work with cute puppies like Henry!

I get to work with cute puppies like Henry!

I am a more patient human being. Training dogs has taught me the fine art of how to take more pauses in life, and take it slowly. Each dog has their own aptitude for how quickly they learn and each is unique. If I take a moment to get to know them and set training up so they can be successful, I will be far more efficient with results in the end. I’ve also learned to be calmer, and move in a way that is more mindful. Working with reactive, aggressive, overly excited, fearful and anxious dogs definitely provides many opportunities to practice this ability, and it carries over in my own life.

I can make an impact. Not everyone can say their job improves the lives of other creatures and people on this planet, and it’s definitely something that has driven me to this career path. It’s so fulfilling to see people learn to understand their dogs better, and for them to have better communication between each other. Seeing the light bulbs go off for people and their dogs is definitely exciting, and knowing that you’ve helped a family regain a sense of peace and happiness is also out of this world!

I build awesome relationships with lots of dogs—and people! I get to play with puppies, help clients deal with frustrations and turn them around into awesome learning opportunities, and share intimate moments with others in a way that really connects me to them. It’s a pretty amazing, inspiring thing. I also get to network with other professionals to ensure proper referrals and build an awesome support system.

I’m more confident. Being a dog trainer means being a lot of things–as your own business, you are marketer, customer service agent, administrative assistant, scheduler, accountant and more. It’s also a little daunting to be new in this field. It has been a wonderful journey in teaching me that I CAN do what I set my mind to!

I’ve learned how powerful positive reinforcement-based methods are. I knew a little bit about behavioral science from taking psychology courses in high school and college, but until I had to learn about it in terms of dog training and behavior, I really didn’t grasp how powerful the science of using positive reinforcement to teach behaviors is. By focusing on getting behaviors I want and reinforcing them, I don’t have to go down the path of punishment and frustration. I am a more proactive than reactive. And it’s fun and makes everyone happy!

It’s truly a pleasure to work with all of you and your dogs, and I am so honored to get to lead the life I live. Thank you so much for your continued support!
Laura
Owner, Delightful Doggies

January 2015 clients

January was a very busy month! We said hello to 11 new clients, many puppies, so lots of energy, fun and excitement was had. February is going to be just as fun, so we thank all of our clients for choosing Delightful Doggies for their training needs. We are so happy to work with all of you!

You can watch the January client slideshow by clicking on the below photo icons, and don’t forget to check out our Flickr site for other past slideshows. We also have a lot more photos and other great content on our Facebook page, so don’t forget to join us there!

Jackson and Shirley Luna Daphne Charlie Aidan Whiskers Frida Jussi Pumpkin Winston Rocky Molly Peanut Sookie and Rufus Daphne Pearl and Alice Sulley Rainbow Henry Harry

Also appreciated but not pictured: Charley aka “Chuck Norris” the Labrador retriever.

Thank you,
Laura
Owner, Delightful Doggies

Client spotlight: Jackson and Shirley

Congratulations to our January client spotlight, Jackson the German Shepherd and Shirley the Labrador retriever/hound mix.

Shirley (back) and Jackson (forward) learn how to give attention outside while on leash

Shirley (back) and Jackson (forward) learn how to give attention outside while on leash

Jackson and Shirley have a very busy mom who needed help with several areas, including not bolting at the front door and leash skills. We agreed that, in addition to coaching sessions, we’d do a 10-pack of Walk & Train sessions so I could help “jump-start” their learning. We worked on how to sit patiently at the door and how to give attention while on walks, as well as give slack, walk side-by-side with me, and not be too overwhelmed by exciting things like smells and large cars!

It was a lot of fun teaching these two, and coaching their mom. In our sessions all together, we also worked a lot on leash skills, redirecting problem behaviors, and how to just build trust and the ability for them to listen to mom. Mom is happy, and so are Shirley and Jackson! She’s been a great student as well.

Mom’s dedication to seek out the best blend of training for her pups is very inspiring, and one of many reasons why we chose these two for our client spotlight. Clients who put in the effort and are consistent in their learning and practice have the best results, and even with mom’s busy schedule, she has seen a lot of improvement and continues to make progress with them. It’s just an amazing thing to be a part of it!

Thank you, Jackson, Shirley and mom, for choosing Delightful Doggies to assist you in your training needs! You’ve worked very hard, and it shows–and you deserve it!
Laura
Owner, Delightful Doggies

Don’t correct–redirect!

There is a mantra among trainers who focus on positive reinforcement-based training methods: “Don’t correct – redirect!”

I did some Googling to try and find the origin of it so I could give credit where it is due, but unfortunately came up with no results, so I’ve been trying to ask around to see if anyone knows. If so, I will gladly come back to edit this blog to give credit where it’s due! Regardless, it is a great way to help us all understand what is probably the most important way to view problem behaviors: instead of focusing on “How do I get my dog to STOP DOING THAT?” we should focus on “What do I want my dog TO do?”

Millie works on sitting instead of jumping for rewards and attention

Millie works on sitting instead of jumping for rewards and attention

When we do this, we switch to being more proactive, rather than reactive. This can be challenging because we live in a busy society that is commonly reactive, but if you are able to switch your habit in this way, you will find much better success with your dog. After all, how many people do you know yell at their dogs to stop doing something, and have success? Not many. This is because the dog either gets used to it and it has no effect at all, or because the dog finds it unpleasant and gets sneakier with the bad behaviors that draw this attention. Worse yet, for some dogs, it can cause anxiety or worsening of fears and even aggression, because the averse nature of the tone/approach causes worse reactions in this regard.

So, how do we redirect?

First, use a happy tone to interrupt behaviors. Doing this will more easily get your dog’s attention, and you can praise him and redirect him to something else you want him to do, and reinforce it. We call this a “positive interrupter.” Sometimes sounds, rather than words, work better. I tend to use a kissy noise.

You will have more success with a positive interrupter if you condition it first. What do I mean by this? Get the dog accustomed that the interrupter is rewarding so when you DO need it in those naughty moments, it will be more likely to be more effective.

  • Get some yummy small treats and a clicker (or you can use a marker word, such as yes, if you don’t have or want to use a clicker)
  • Give your kissy noise, or other noise or happy-tone cue that you want to use for a positive interrupter, one that you know will get your dog’s interest.
  • The instant your dog turns their head toward you, click (or give your marker word), and give your dog a treat.
  • Repeat this several times in many different sorts of situations and environments–different rooms and areas of your home, in public, etc.
  • After some time, when your dog is orienting to you each and every time, you can click and treat less, and do it every other time, two to three times, etc., as well as substitute praise and other rewards. We call this “intermittent reinforcement,” and it’s like a slot-machine effect–the dog isn’t sure when he will actually get a reward, but the anticipation is more powerful than the reward. By using this intermittent reinforcement, we make the behavior even stronger. It also sets you up for success in using your positive interrupter when you need without having your clicker/treat.

There is also a great video from Emily Larlham on conditioning a positive interrupter that you can see here.

Interrupting an unwanted behavior is only part of the equation, so let’s talk about the other part–what do you want your dog TO do? After you have successfully interrupted the behavior with your positive interrupter, redirect the dog to something you want him to do, and then reinforce that behavior. Doing this over and over again to address particular problem behaviors can help him learn an alternative behavior that he can use instead of the one you don’t want.

But let’s take it a step further–if your dog is always doing the problem behavior before the one you don’t want, you will not be as successful. Why? This is because he’s getting practice at the behavior you don’t want or at worse–you are creating what we call a behavior chain, where the “bad” behavior precedes the “good” one, and therefore must be what you want, right? At least, that’s what your dog thinks.

So, it’s best if you can determine what your dog may do before he even engages in the problem behavior. You may need to note his body language, or how the environment is set up, and take steps to either change this or know it so you can redirect before the moment of naughtiness occurs. Observation is key and will help you in successfully replacing what you don’t want with what you do want. If you do this earlier, rather than later, you will not fall into the trap of setting up a behavior chain that includes the unwanted behavior, and your training will be more efficient in teaching the dog what is expected of him.

To illustrate all this, let’s use an example. Let’s say I have a dog who is always raiding the trash. The best way to address this is to put trash away where the dog is unable to access it, or use a locking trash that he can’t open. Even then, my dog may be smart enough to learn how to get to it, or I may accidentally leave it out. In those cases, if I’m around and I see my dog heading over to the trash, I may catch him early enough to use my positive interrupter to get him to come back to me to play with a favorite toy instead, and then put the trash away.

Let’s use another example: jumping. My dog jumps on me when I get home and I want him to stop this. When I get home, I am ready with my clicker and treats to anticipate his excitement, and once I open the door, I throw a handful of treats down and away from me so he will go eat them. Then, I can click and treat as he approaches and I move away, to prevent his jumping on me and to reinforce all four on the floor. I could also practice “sit” and prompt him with this cue, instead.

The next time your dog is doing something you don’t like, ask yourself, “What do I want him to do?” Use this goal as a way to guide you to redirecting him to that behavior. Make notes of when he does the behavior, to whom and under what circumstances? Can you modify those to eliminate the behavior? Or can you see what’s going on as early as you can to interrupt it before it even happens, to instead get the behavior you want, and then make it very rewarding? Doing this will make your lives more peaceful and will eliminate the frustration you have, and any need for punishment, which most always has drawbacks.

While all of this seems relatively simple–and it is–applying it can be difficult. This is because every dog is different and there are many nuances to timing, and management. Extreme problem behaviors are always best dealt with under the guidance of a professional, so I always recommend meeting with a certified trainer who uses positive reinforcement-based methods for people who are struggling with their dogs. If you are having problems applying techniques with success, contact us. If we can’t help you, we will find someone who can!

Thank you for reading and happy training!
Laura
Owner, Delightful Doggies

Client video retrospective – 2014

A big thank you to all our 2014 clients. It was a great year and we can’t wait for 2015, with even more training services and fun to come! Take a look at our video for this year–a nice stroll down memory lane…

Thank you for your continued support, and best wishes for 2015!
Laura
Owner, Delightful Doggies

December 2014 clients

December was another wonderful month filled with training fun, as well as special moments in achieving milestones. There is nothing more fulfilling than helping dogs overcome fears, learn new skills and be more relaxed, and helping their humans understand them more, and work with them successfully. There were so many a-ha moments with clients this month, dog and human alike! I love watching the light bulbs go off, and excitement and happiness ensue, so thank you for allowing me to be part of it! :D

Click on the photo icons below to watch the December client slideshow, and don’t forget to check out our Flickr site for other past slideshows. Also join us on our Facebook page. for more photos and other great content.

Trigger Jackson and Shirley Frankie Daphne Jack Casey Jussi Lily Daphne Rufus and Sookie Rocky Winston Moose Goblin Luna Aidan

And Happy New Year!
Laura
Owner, Delightful Doggies

Happy holidays!

From myself and all the Delightful Doggies team, we want to wish you a happy and joyous holiday season. In 2014, we serviced 111 dog clients with their training needs. We enjoyed an amazing third year of business this 2014, and look forward to an even more awesome 2015! Your continued support is so appreciated.

Happy Holidays 2014Thank you,
Laura
Owner, Delightful Doggies

You have the right to ask why

In my training contract, I have a clause that states that, without 100% cooperation from the dog’s owner in training, that the dog will not get trained. When I go over this part of the contract, I discuss the importance of being compliant and following instructions, and providing feedback to ensure we have success, but I also like to add, “You always have the right to ask me why we’re doing something.”

Clients Casey & Jack encourage you to ask why!

Clients Casey & Jack encourage you to ask why!

I’m a trainer who believes in empowering the human client as much as the dog client. I want my clients to feel good about the methods that we’re using—that we aren’t going to hurt or harm their dog, and that we’re going to achieve their training goals as effectively and efficiently as possible. I’ve also inherited some clients who have undergone training with other trainers, and some of these experiences have been good for them, while others have been quite negative.

In the end, some clients hired professionals who sounded good on the surface, but ended up having them use methods they weren’t comfortable with at all. Some stopped training because of it, while others felt they had no choice but to do what they were told. Many didn’t achieve the results they hoped to have, and others ended up as traumatized as the dogs who were subjected to the rough handling “training” the trainers instructed. There is no good reason to pin down, choke, hang, scruff, throw, kick or do ANYTHING physical to a dog to achieve results in training, especially in matters concerning fear, reactivity and possible aggression.

Trainers will probably never quite work exactly the same way amongst each other, that’s true. There are so many of us on the spectrum, and it’s an unregulated industry. There is an alphabet soup of possible initials when it comes to certifications or diploma programs, and the marketing language is always just as confusing. “Balanced” sounds great but can be misleading. Positive reinforcement only may be a bit of a stretch, as how many of us use environmental aversives like anti-chewing spray? Then there are the traditionalists who believe a dog should work for no rewards, just because a dog is expected to want to please us. It can get tricky choosing a professional trainer.

I think it’s a part of my job to talk about these things, and help clients and potential clients gain some footing in their understanding. I also provide referrals if I can’t help the person so they can find quality professionals much easier. Most of the great trainers I know do these things too. I just also feel it’s important we empower our clients to ask, at any time: “Why?”

That simple question can hopefully enable people to gather information from their trainer as to why they adhere to a certain philosophy, align with a certain professional organization, completed the certification program they chose, and why a technique is being used, and how it will work to achieve their goals. If a trainer can’t give a good answer, then it can be a flag to ask more questions to understand more about whether or not the trainer is a good fit, or even qualified.

Of course, asking why may also open a window into seeing how a trainer reacts when questioned. If they take offense, aren’t sure what to say, or handle it with professionalism and fun, it can help a client gain insight into their character and whether or not they’re a fit in terms of personality and communication styles.

Asking “why” may not completely solve the problem consumers face when choosing trainers, but it can help us all be better—better at answering questions, making sure we have a solid toolbox that doesn’t stop growing, and helping clients feel empowered and good about the trainers they hire.

And have a happy holiday season—I can hardly believe it is around the corner!
Laura
Owner, Delightful Doggies