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: Charlie the Labrador retriever.

Thank you,
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!
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!
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!
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!
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,
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!
Owner, Delightful Doggies

Client spotlight: Trigger the terrier mix

Congratulations to our December client spotlight, Trigger the terrier mix!

Trigger in his carefree state

Trigger in his carefree state :)

Trigger was adopted from the MaxFund shelter by a wonderful couple who love him dearly. He is such a lucky pup! Trigger is a very sweet and food-motivated boy who has been quite unsure about other dogs, and sometimes other things in his environment, like noisy cars.

Through desensitization and counterconditioning techniques, Trigger has been able to overcome his fears and become more relaxed around our head Delightful Doggy, Jasper. He’s also been able to learn that there are better alternatives to being upset or going on the offense–he can move away, he can give eye contact to his parents, he can hand target, he can turn his head or body away, and much more. He’s even been able to learn that it is okay to actually interact and play with Jasper!

Little by little, Trigger is gaining confidence and the ability to trust that another dog won’t hurt him. Dogs like Trigger demonstrate that, when we empower our dogs to make the right decisions, they can choose them, and on their own terms, even enjoy things that once were very upsetting.

Of course, none of this would be possible without the hard work his parents have put in learning about how to read his signals and body language, how to redirect any possible conflict, and how to head it off from even happening. We are so proud of them and Trigger! And it’s also been a lot of fun working with all of them, which is how training should be.

Thank you for entrusting us to help you gain the tools you need to have a happy life together,
Owner, Delightful Doggies

Get FREE training advice

Join us this Saturday at Pet Station to ask your training questions FREE and get your pet holiday shopping done!

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Holiday Gift Certificates – 10% off training!

Happy December!

This is the time of year when many people consider bringing a new dog into their home, as well as make resolutions for the coming new year. Why not give the gift of dog training to your friends and family? It’s a perfect way to help them with new (or existing!) puppies and dogs (even prep them for the holidays if you decide to buy and gift early!), as well as get a good start for the coming year. January is also National Train Your Dog Month, so let’s celebrate by having fun learning together!

Gift Certificates 2014Delightful Doggies is happy to offer gift certificates for the month of December for all our training services at 10% off!* If you are an existing client who has used any of our services in the past, you can get an extra 5% off for gift certificates purchased for your family and friends. You can opt for any one of our services, or combination thereof. The discount will be applied to the current pricing here on our site, not reflected in the gift certificate itself.

All you need to do is contact me and I will be able to work with you to take your order to customize your certificate, and send it to your recipient. All orders must be received by December 22 to ensure holiday delivery. Gift certificates will only be on sale through the end of December, 2014.

Thank you so much! I look forward to working with you to give the gift of harmony and understanding through the science of marker training!
Owner, Delightful Doggies

*This discount does not apply to services already booked/invoiced, or on top of other already offered discounts, and does not apply to any assistant or mileage/travel fees. Limit two per household.