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.

November 2014 clients

It’s hard to believe the end of 2014 is drawing near; I have been thinking a lot about 2015 and new ideas and programs to unveil for clients, old and new. If you have suggestions on what you’d like to see or how we can better assist you, please don’t hesitate to be in contact with any feedback. It’s all very appreciated!

November was another wonderful month filled with all kinds of awesome clients. We had a few Puppy Preschool graduates, and many custom training clients with a variety of goals. It’s always fun to work with so many different people and dogs! Click on the photo icons below to watch a slideshow from all our November moments, 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. We enjoy documenting our time together!

Lily Margot Fiona Frankie Casey Jack Bravo Che Arthur Jussi Murphy Jasper Devo Bailey Jackson and Shirley Goblin Tony Jobu Daphne

Thank you for entrusting Delightful Doggies with your training needs!
Owner, Delightful Doggies

Client spotlight: Lily the mixed breed puppy

Congratulations to our November client spotlight, Lily the mixed breed puppy!

Lily says, The Road to Happiness is paved with hot dogs!

Lily says, The Road to Happiness is paved with hot dogs!

Lily is coming up on her 11-month birthday and she’s a big girl! Her mix is unknown, as she was part of a litter due for euthanasia at a high-kill shelter. Fortunately, a rescue stepped in to save them!

Her mother adopted her and was very conscientious of socializing her, and all was good until a well-meaning uniformed person wasn’t aware of how scary Lily perceived him to be. Instead of giving space and having Lily warm up to him at her own pace, he tried his best to win her over, unsuccessfully. This had an unfortunate effect on Lily, causing her to have a more generalized fearful response toward strangers.

Through consistent work in having strangers show up to give hot dogs, Lily is making progress overcoming her fears and starting to learn more appropriate ways to deal with strangers, rather than barking offensively at them. Her mother has been working hard with her to provide her with the right tools and training she needs to regain confidence and lead a less stressful life. They are an awesome duo!

We love working with dogs like Lily to gain trust and help them find happiness. Thank you, Lily, and your amazing mother, for trusting in us to help you!
Owner, Delightful Doggies

Training: a bank account filled with trust

Most clients are duly impressed by what I can accomplish with their dogs. At the same time, it’s important for my clients to remember that I, too, am human, and am imperfect, AND, have imperfect dogs!

Training takes time, consistency and patience. Even after dogs learn behaviors, there is work that must be done over their lifetime to maintain behaviors. Without practice in this way, behaviors can deteriorate. It’s also important to remember that behavior isn’t always foolproof: the right (or wrong!) circumstances can happen to make even the most well-skilled trainer a tad frustrated.

Jasper and the frog

Jasper and the frog

And so, I will relay to you the story of Jasper and the frog, which illustrates a key point in training for me, and my philosophy. Jasper often assists with training, and after a long day working this past summer, I decided to take him to Cherry Creek State Park’s off-leash area as a reward. I hadn’t had a lot of quality time with him as of late, and while we were both tired, I felt we could use the fun. I had his “grade-A” rewards with me—some turkey hot dogs and his chuck-it ball.

After walking for quite some time, as we were turning back to end our excursion there, dusk began to fall, and frogs started coming out. Jasper had not interacted with frogs before and took to playing with one right away. At first I thought to discourage it, as I didn’t want any harm to come to the frog, but as I saw how gentle he was being and how much fun he was having, I felt there was no harm in allowing him to continue. I kept walking while he was playing, figuring he’d catch up, as he never does let me get too far away without catching up.

However, Jasper found this frog much more fun and kept following him into taller and taller grasses and bushes. I began to call him and pulled out all the stops that usually get him to comply—throwing his ball, making noises he finds intriguing and exciting, running away, trying to entice him with hot dogs—but nothing was working this time. It was getting darker and I was tired and ready to leave! I was also starting to worry about other creatures that could be out there, like snakes, who could cause him harm, and I admit it made me a bit anxious.

Those who have trained with me know I never advocate the use of harsh tones or punishment at all, especially when calling a dog by name to come to you. I encourage the use of a positive interrupter and trying to redirect the dog on what to do, being exciting and inviting as opposed to threatening. This night at the park, though, I was being tested. I was tired, I was worried and I was feeling like I had no other options but to lower my voice in a deep, growly tone and say quite harshly—“Jasper! Get over here now!”

Jasper came out, slinking along the ground. So many people interpret this as a sign of feeling “guilty.” Of course, I know better as a dog trainer. Jasper was not guilty—he was just finding my tone unpleasant and was trying to appease me. It wasn’t very nice, what I did to get him to come out.

I have relayed this story to a few of my colleagues and clients. Colleagues like to say things like, “It worked because you don’t overuse it,” and “Don’t feel bad—it happens sometimes.” Clients are sometimes surprised by what I’ve relayed, but also relieved that it’s not always rainbows and unicorns—that I, too, have not-so-perfect moments of pure positive reinforcement all the time. It makes me more relate-able, and helps them forgive themselves for similar decisions they’ve made.

By and large, pet owners have no need for corrections in the traditional sense. If we train our dogs very well on behaviors we DO want, and maintain them well by practicing them in many different scenarios, then by and large we will never have to resort to yelling, or worse. But sometimes life happens and it’s very grey, and sometimes in a life-or-death situation I may end up doing something that isn’t completely force-free (like yanking on a leash when a dog wanders out too far into oncoming traffic, or grabbing out of his mouth a chicken bone or other life-threatening object). Those times should be rare.

In October I was very excited to attend a lecture by Dr. Susan Friedman based on her course, “Living and Learning with Animals.” She said something that made a considerable impression on me, and I found it within an article she had written for Bird Talk Magazine:

Think of it this way: Gaining an animal’s trust is like building up a bank account. We make deposits into the trust account one positive interaction at a time. Positive interactions are not just about animals gaining valued rewards but also about having the power to make choices. Alternatively, we make withdrawals from the trust account with negative interactions, such as the use of force, threats and punishment. Even small or inadvertent withdrawals add up over time, putting the relationship in the red. If a withdrawal is so big that it exceeds the positive balance, we risk bankrupting the relationship.

This is a great analogy for us to consider. My relationship with other people, pets and any life form is based on trust. When we are able to make positive interactions the crux of our training program, we are helping our dogs to learn how to cope with life and make the right decisions, and growing our bank account of trust. We empower them to have control over their lives, which is important, because all life NEEDS that empowerment to learn and thrive. If I’m always punishing or making things unpleasant for my dogs or clients, they will not feel good about working with me. It will undermine the relationship and trust.

Great training is about having a great bank account balance, and I’m happy to help clients achieve that, even if we’re not perfect all the time! Together, we can continue to improve our skills so the bank account can grow each and every day. That is my promise to you!

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback and suggestions for future blog posts,
Owner, Delightful Doggies

October 2014 clients

It’s been an AMAZING October! I officially became CPDT-KA, we’ve been able to raise a little over half our fundraising goal for the Puppy Up! walk (please donate if you can–there is still another day!), and I’ve been blessed to work with so many new and diverse clients. I appreciate all the support all of you have given, and continue to give!

By clicking on the below photo icons, you can take a look back at all our October moments. You can also see past photos and slideshows on our Flickr site. We also have a lot more photos and other great content on our Facebook page.

Sadie Jobu Lily Holly Millie Heidi Daphne Bruiser Bailey Fiona Devo and Jasper Nelson Keesha and Maggie Mae Sophie Casey and Jack Murphy Bravo Trigger Margot Jussi Che Goblin

Not pictured but still very appreciated: Monsignor Harley of the House of Davidson the Maine Coon cat.

Thank you!
Owner, Delightful Doggies

Now CPDT-KA certified

I am pleased to announce that I passed my certification exam and am therefore CPDT-KA certified!

CCPDTLogoWhat does this mean? It means I have no less than 300 hours of experience as a trainer under my belt, have passed an exam testing my knowledge of several different areas pertaining to dog care, training and behavior, am dedicated to principles regarding humane training practices and approaches, and also have to maintain continuing education to maintain my certification as CPDT-KA. You can learn more about CPDT-KA certification and other certifications through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) here.

I take my profession very seriously and am lucky to do what I love! Over the three years I’ve had my business, I have worked ceaselessly with many different clients on many different levels, had the opportunity to shadow and be mentored by other great trainers, and take several amazing seminars and workshops to learn from the best positive reinforcement-based trainers and behaviorists in the world.

I will continue to strive to be the best I can be and never stop learning. I appreciate the support all my clients have given to help me learn, as well as encourage my ability to make this goal of CDPT-KA certification a reality! You are all so important to me, and I am grateful to know all of you–and grateful to encounter new clients in the future who will present even more experience and challenges for growth! :)

Thank you so much, and happy fall!
Owner, Delightful Doggies

Client spotlight: Sadie the shepherd mix

Sadie has a sweet smile

Sadie has a sweet smile

Congratulations to our October client spotlight, Sadie the shepherd mix!

Sadie is a charming puppy who has a ton of charisma and energy. She loves to play and has the most adorable little hop-run! Like all puppies, Sadie loves attention and fun, and is working on learning how to hone her impulse control and be more chill. She’s doing a great job at perfecting her leash skills, though she’s still working on how to be more calm when exciting things like people and other dogs show up.

Her parents have been working diligently to harness all her energy in constructive ways. Sadie is a lucky pup to have such committed parents! One of the highlights of having a dog training career is being witness to the love that is shared between dogs and their people, and it’s obvious that Sadie’s people love her very much!

We very much appreciate the confidence Sadie and her parents have in us to assist with meeting her learning needs. Thank you!

And congratulations, again!
Owner, Delightful Doggies

Help us end canine (& human) cancer

In memoriam of Soup

In memoriam of Soup

Each year, the Delightful Doggies team chooses a nonprofit cause for which to fundraise. This year, we have chosen to participate in the Puppy Up! Denver walk on November 1 in Stapleton to raise money for the 2 Million Dogs Foundation, which works to find links between canine and human cancers so that we can hopefully rid the world of this horrible disease that affects so many. We need your help!

One way you can help is to join our team and help us fundraise to meet our goal of $1500. We have a goal to recruit three more members to our six team member goal.

Another way you can help is to make a donation (click the “Give Now” button at the right side of the page) so we can make our $1500 fundraising goal for this great organization.

& in memoriam of my father

& in memoriam of my father

AND…another often-overlooked but very much-appreciated way you can help is to just let others know by sharing our team page and asking friends to join us or donate. They can do either of these actions from the team page. There are very easy share buttons for social networks like Facebook and Twitter, and to email the page to your contacts.

We only have a month to meet our goals so we really appreciate your help. Any donation in ANY amount helps–even if it’s just a little–and your willingness to share with others will also help us, so much!

Thank you,
Owner, Delightful Doggies