Congratulations to our July client spotlight, Harley and Opie, the Kelpie and Australian Shepherd!
Harley and Opie have a great mom and dad who are expecting their first human baby VERY soon, and wanted to ensure everyone is happy and safe when that glorious day comes (any moment now)! Both brothers are very sensitive herders and we have been working on building their confidence, desensitization and counterconditioning to items like the doorbell, visitors knocking and entering, baby cries, and the new baby equipment, as well as helping them learn how to relax on their own. They’re also getting used to being in their own space away from mom and dad, instead of take all the attention!
Their parents have been very diligent and committed, working especially hard to have success before their due date, and it shows! They’ve sent us videos and given us updates regularly, and kept on a good schedule to keep up the momentum. Truly they have been some of the most amazing clients we’ve ever had, and very deserving of the client spotlight for this month!
We appreciate Harley and Opie and their eagerness to please, in addition to the consistency mom and dad have given them with fun training sessions. It’s awesome that they contacted us before the baby’s arrival to put their minds at ease and plan ahead to be properly prepared. Their compliance to our homework has been key to how much progress we’ve seen in these two awesome dogs in a short amount of time, and blows us away!
Thank you for trusting in us, and we look forward to seeing you for another transition session once your precious baby has arrived!
Owner, Delightful Doggies
The Fourth of July can be an amazing celebration for many—but for some, including our pets, it’s one of the hardest. The sounds of fireworks and the smell of sulfur can cause many dogs to go into a fight-or-flight response, so it’s important to be mindful of this and plan ahead to minimize stress. Here are four tips for a safe Fourth:
Get out of town: If you have another alternative to being around the festivities, take it! Go to a secluded cabin, go for that camping trip, head out for an evening drive—whatever works in terms of getting away from the stressor in the first place.
Safety—and comfort—first! Remember to always consider safety and comfort first if you must stay in town and at home. Don’t allow your dog out in the yard or have them outside when festivities begin. Take that long walk and potty break before so you can stay in the home, safe and sound. Your dog should be microchipped and wearing tags for identification just in case anything were to happen. Making a safe space within the home that is comforting for the dog to stay in while the celebrations are happening can help keep them safe and calmer. Some dogs find crates comforting, while others may like a closet or small room. Play a white noise machine and/or soft, soothing music. If your dog likes aromatherapy or could benefit from dog appeasing pheromones, use them. Have puzzle toys or enrichment toys ready for feeding dinner so they have something else to do and enjoy. Doing some fun play or training games can also be a good alternative. Draw curtains and blinds, and do comfort your dog! Giving them support will NOT reinforce their fear so don’t let that hold you back.
Talk to your vet: Some dogs have so much anxiety and pure panic that it may be best for them to have some medical support, especially if they are prone to having other anxiety or are sound-sensitive to many different stimuli. There are some natural alternatives but you should never shy away from pharmaceutical intervention if it can help your dog be happier and less stressed. Talk to your vet about what options would be best for your dog. Stay away from acepromazine! It can sedate the body but not the mind, increasing overall anxiety in time.
Counterconditioning is key! You can use desensitization and counterconditioning techniques before the Fourth to see better success when the celebrations take place. You will need to prepare and have on hand LOTS of bits of VERY high-value food. (Human foods like cheese, boiled meat or unflavored/non-spiced deli meat, hot dogs, etc. are best so don’t skimp—use something super wonderful!) Using a recording of fireworks, play it at a VERY low volume that won’t upset the dog, and pause as needed to give breaks. When your dog hears a firework, feed this food. Repeat and gradually raise and vary the level of the volume. You want to keep it low enough so that your dog doesn’t get panicked—your dog should be relatively comfortable but still able to notice the sound. Do this many times before the Fourth and have lots more food ready on the Fourth to pair with the real deal. If fireworks mean bits of salmon consistently, your dog can begin to see fireworks as a good thing due to this association you build over many repetitions.
We’re in the midst of the busiest time of year, and really want to thank all of you for your continued trust in us to help with your dog training and behavior consulting needs. It’s been raining puppies, too, which has been very fun! The diversity and individual personalities we get to work with is so much fun and helps us continue to learn and grow as professionals. Thank you for choosing the Delightful Doggies training team!
You can click on the below photo icons to visit our June 2017 clients Flickr album, and if you click on the slideshow button (top right computer/play icon), you can view all the photos in a fun slideshow format. Please join us on our Facebook page to see even more photos of client dogs, great articles, news items and blog posts. You can also check us out on Instagram!
We hope you’re having a great summer!
Owner, Delightful Doggies
Barrett is a rescue puppy adopted by an awesome, active gentleman to be a lifelong partner for myriad fun activities. In other words, Barrett is truly lucky! He’s also amazing–very quick to learn, eager to please, and just a fun dude to chill with.
I’ve had the pleasure to see Barrett twice weekly for Day Training visits to work on getting him used to the world, walk on a loose leash and come when called. It’s been a lot of fun, and we take frequent breaks to chew as a teething puppy has to have chew breaks! And play! We have to play and have fun! Playing games like “catch me” and “hide and go seek” have made come when called even more fun to learn.
Barrett is getting off to a great start because his dad knows the value of training in helping them have enjoyment together. It makes me happy to know that they are going to do well together because they’ve been working on it from the very start of his coming home from rescue. This is one of many reasons that Barrett is our client spotlight this month.
Thank you to Barrett and his dad for being so great, and for choosing us to help with their training needs!
Owner, Delightful Doggies
There are lots of components that go into successful training: your timing, the delivery of the reward, having the right motivation for the dog, managing your environment for success, and many more. Each of these in and of itself is worthy of a blog post, but today I’m going to talk about one of the cornerstones and how I perceive it: the ability to truly connect with your dog.
What is a connection and how do you know you have it? For me, it’s when my dogs look happily at me, come to me without me even asking, and look to me as though I have their back. By and large, my dogs find it extremely rewarding just being around me. I notice the good behaviors they give me and reward them. I talk to them and look at them in a loving manner. I do things with them they enjoy, and I enjoy as well, sharing that mutual enjoyment.
Here are my tips for building a good, solid connection with your dog:
Empathize with your dog. We are so caught up in what the dog SHOULD do, or DOES know, that when they don’t do what we’ve prompted from them, we get frustrated. We repeat ourselves: “Django, sit………sit………..SIT!” Our voices and actions become white noise to our dog, and we go down the road of being upset, which can lead to unnecessary and unpleasant punishment, deteriorating our relationship. Remember there may be reasons why your dog isn’t doing what you think he should be doing—and knows how to do. Sometimes they actually haven’t been taught to understand what we’re asking in all situations so we need to retrain at easier criteria. Perhaps your dog didn’t hear you, or is thinking about it and just needs a moment more than what we will give. Sometimes they may be too afraid, or the pavement is too hot or cold, or they may be experiencing some type of pain or discomfort. The dog is refusing for a reason, not out of stubbornness. The more you can realize where the holes are with your training, or what he may be experiencing at the moment by contemplating his point of view, the less frustration you can experience and the more trust you will be able to build with your dog overall.
Reward all the check-ins! One of the simplest things you can do, the instant you get your new puppy or dog, is reward him EVERY TIME he looks at you, in as many places you can, and with as many distractions, as possible, of his own accord. We call these “check-ins,” and your dog will be most successful if you do this first in less distracting environments, then in increasingly more distracting areas and scenarios. You can’t overdo it in the beginning, especially as the surroundings change. The more you do this, the more they will learn you are the most amazing thing in their world! In less distracting situations you can use their regular food ration and simple training treats, but in more distracting environments (exciting to be in the park on a weekend!), you will have much better success if you have little bits of hot dogs, chicken or cheese—any real food that your dog doesn’t normally get but will absolutely love. Everything starts with looking at you—a sit, a down, a loose leash walk—so if you start by rewarding simple check-ins, you will have a strong foundation for even better manners and relaxed behavior.
Acknowledge when they get it right. Often! It’s all too easy to ignore the good kid, right? The naughty one in the back always gets called out, gets called up to the front, gets all the attention. This usually doesn’t work well overall because the naughtiness is more rewarding than being good and quiet! It’s a simple analogy but it helps us realize that there are many times when our dogs are being good and we aren’t acknowledging it (as well as how much we end up reinforcing “bad” behavior instead). Make a point to have treats at hand more often than not to reward good behaviors when they’re offered, at spontaneous times, and see the awesome results of paying attention to the good kid—he repeats all that awesome stuff, more and more. Even if I don’t have a treat at the time, I want to tell my dogs they’re being good, or give some attention to them in the form of affection or play, so they know I appreciate their awesomeness when it happens.
Have full engagement with your dog. I am a huge advocate for food in training, and to also continue maintaining behaviors you’ve already built, but it’s also important to use other reinforcing items to engage your dog in myriad ways to build your relationship together. Often when I’m walking a dog I love to praise them as they’re doing well in addition to treating them to stay by my side, and to tell them how awesome they are before releasing them for a sniff break. By engaging them a bit more than just being stoic or relying on the treats alone, and allowing them freedom to do what they want, I think most dogs are more eager to actually be present with me on the walk. It’s not like I have to talk or pet them the entire time, but I do enough to motivate the dog and add even more fun to what we’re doing, instead of staring at my cell phone or talking on a Bluetooth. You can also engage in playing with the dog with a toy, or a game you both enjoy as well. If I’m enthusiastic, and genuine, they will pick up on this and know that we’re a team together—we work hard but we also play hard!
These strategies build a reinforcement history with the dog—I am always oriented toward helping the dog find the right path and rewarding for what I like most. The stronger your history, the better your success at having a dog that will be happy to do what you like—it’s fun for the dog, and it helps build a real connection with them. It builds a solid relationship!
May was a really fun month filled with puppies and doggies of all kinds. We very much appreciate everyone who worked with us this month, and are looking forward to a busy summer!
Click on the below photo icons to visit our May 2017 clients Flickr album. By clicking on the slideshow button (top right computer/play icon), you can view all the photos in a fun slideshow format. You can also join us on our Facebook page to see even more photos of client dogs, great articles, news items and blog posts, and we also have an Instagram account.
Have a wonderful start to your summer!
Owner, Delightful Doggies
Charlie is a total charmer but he had some issues with meeting new people and reacting to other dogs, which is why his parents contacted us. We formed a plan including TTouch and other methods to help him feel relaxed and grounded, in addition to desensitization and counterconditioning protocols to help him learn that dogs make great things happen, and how to be calm and disengage, instead of fixate and react. He’s progressing by leaps and bounds, and does great in a lot of scenarios! The most challenging is being more calm around his home environment, but he’s getting better everyday at learning that he doesn’t need to bark at the fence or window.
With the wonderful patience and consistency his parents have given to our plans and the process, Charlie is sure to continue to improve and become more confident. This week he started learning how to do nosework, which should be a great enrichment activity for him! He’s been doing great in our setups with head delightful doggy, Jasper, to practice skills, and with his next-door nemesis (wink), a dog that he finds particularly upsetting.
It’s awesome to see how much Charlie and his parents have learned and grown in this process, and we’re very proud of all of them! Thank you for enlisting our help, and for being such great clients.