Give Your Dog a Job

Almost all breeds of dogs were developed and bred to have a job.  Even breeds like French Bulldogs, English Bulldogs and Chihuahuas that are often considered lazy or difficult to train can excel if given the right job.  We have seen French Bulldogs employed for detection work, therapy work, and fly ball and Chihuahuas racing their legs off at barn hunts and agility courses.  Your dog doesn’t have to be an amazing obedience dog to try their paw at dog sports.

Oftentimes, dogs that are labeled as problem dogs, like dogs that end up in shelters have not been given enough mental and physical challenges.  Once these dogs are given a chance to use their instincts in an appropriate way they can truly relax when they are at home with you.

Don’t be intimidated it really isn’t that hard to get started.  Normally, you get started by finding a club or drop in session to get started with.   Try just by googling it or looking on Facebook. 

You don’t have to turn your pet into a show dog, there are variations that you can do with your own dog!  You can find DVD’s online, you tube videos, and plenty of how to’s.

Nose work

Fascinating fact: Dogs have a sense of smell that’s between 10,000 and 100,000 times more acute than ours! The sport of Scent Work celebrates the joy of sniffing, and asks a dog to sniff to their heart’s content; turning your dog’s favorite activity into a rewarding game. It is a terrific sport for all kinds of dogs, and is a wonderful way to build confidence in a shy dog.  It is a terrific way to teach your dog that he can communicate things he wants to tell you, by how he acts.  This can be very empowering to shy dogs, help calm anxious dogs and give high energy dogs a job.

-You can do this in your own house really easily.  All you need is either their favorite toy, 3-4 card board boxes, a q-tip and any sent… that’s right you can even use hair gel, essential oils, or perfume.

Barn hunt

Barn Hunt is a fun sport for all dogs of any breed or mix that like to hunt with their noses. Dogs search for one or more rats (safely housed in aerated tubes) on a course made of straw bales. The dog has to find the correct number of hidden rats within a set time limit.

-This one is a little harder to do in your house, but there are about 6 places in the City of Denver that offer these for $15 a class several nights a week.

Agility

Agility is a sport where you direct your dog through a pre-set obstacle course within a certain time limit. Courses typically have between 14-20 obstacles, which can include tunnels, weave poles, tire jumps, seesaws, and pause tables where the dog must stop for a set amount of time.  This can be great for adolescent dogs with low-self control to learn how to focus on a handler during excitement and go from speed to calmness.  It also teaches handlers to give clear cues and teaches dogs to focus on subtle cues while running full speed. 

-Do it at home by using chairs, laundry baskets, broomstick handles and large boulders in your yard.  Give your kids cardboard boxes that they can make tunnels out of.

You could also try the next one as an in-home sport.

Canine Parkour

Dog parkour, sometimes known as urban agility, is an activity based on the same principles. It is a challenging, but fun, physical activity in which the dogs learn to interact with their environment.   Parkour is a physical discipline in which dogs move through their environment and conquer obstacles in their path. It includes climbing, balancing, jumping, running, vaulting, creativity and working past fear.  Teaches dogs to listen to their handler and trains them body awareness.

-It’s made to do around the home and neighborhood.

Dock diving

Dock jumping also known as dock diving is a dog sport in which dogs compete in jumping for distance or height from a dock into a body of water.  This is great for dogs that may have injuries or dogs that love toys and water!

-Do it around the house by finding a lake, river or canine swim center.  This is excellent exercise to  tire them out.

Freestyle dance

Musical canine freestyle, also known as musical freestyle, freestyle dance, and canine freestyle, is a modern dog sport that is a mixture of obedience training, tricks, and dance that allows for creative interaction between dogs and their owners. The sport has developed into competition forms in several countries around the world.

-This is so easy to do in the house, hit youtube for some inspiration and turn on your favorite tunes.

Herding

There are three test levels – started, intermediate, advanced. This is not limited to herding breeds as long as the dog has proper instincts I have a good friend who does this with an Akita.  If you are looking to compete there is a little more you need to know, The initial test is called Instinct Test and it is a test for herding breeds, Rottweilers, Samoyeds, Standard and Giant Schnauzers, Pyrenean Shepherds, Swedish Vallhunds, Norwegian Buhunds and Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs. The dog needs no training before entering this class and may be handled by the judge, owner or a designated handler. The judge is looking for the dogs ability to move and control livestock by fetching or driving.

-Live in the middle of the city?  No sheep in sight, but your border collie is going bananas?  Check out this next sport called Treibball!

Treibball

Sometimes called urban herding.If your dog has a nose or a shoulder, he can play Treibball! The game is simple to play and train, and only requires a few fitness balls, some treats and a love of working with your dog. Your dog learns to target the balls, and then goes out into a playing field and pushes balls to you, with direction and control.

Other working dog jobs

Service dogs:

These dogs are owned by someone with a disability and trained to mitigate that disability.  These dogs may be trained to retrieve a cell phone, medication, or pull a wheel chair.  They may guide the blind or detect an owner’s drop in blood sugar as well as respond to that situation appropriately.  They should be 100 percent focused on their handler as they are a medical device and if they are unfocused, they may miss a cue from an owner or may miss a medical issue like on-coming seizure.   That is why owners of these dogs strongly discourage other people from petting their working dogs. These dogs should have good manners and should not harass strangers or other dogs.  These dogs have public access rights.  No certification or registration is required.  Those sold online are a scam.  You do not need to have any markings on your dog, but your dog must behave in public.

Emotional Support dogs:

These dogs do not have public access rights, however they have fair housing act rights.  Your dog doesn’t need any special training, but can have this title revoked if your dog behaves in a dangerous manner around the neighborhood.

Therapy dogs:

These dogs go to schools, hospitals, nursing homes and other places to provide comfort to humans.  These dogs are specially trained to be safe, polite and comfortable in the settings they provide comfort and are insured as therapy animals.

Helpful dogs:

These dogs are pets that you provide training for around your house to give them a “job”.  You can teach them to pick up dropped keys, bring you a hand towel, put the laundry in the bin and bring you your slippers.  While it may sound silly giving these dogs these simple and important tasks are sooo important! ff

Getting Socialization Right

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When to start?

Puppies should be handled since birth, so if you are adopting from a rescue or purchasing from a breeder you should be asking about what the socialization looked like before your puppy came home.

Both the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior position statements state “It should be the standard off care for puppies to receive socialization BEFORE they are fully vaccinated.”

According to the AVSAB your puppy can start socialization as long as they have had 1 round of shots at least 7 days prior to starting their new class.  Waiting can mean you miss the window completely.  Watch this video to learn more, When to socialize

Are you reading your new puppy correctly?

One of the most important parts of your job as a new puppy parent is helping your puppy build confidence in following you and in the world around him.

In order to do a good job at this you have to be very keen on what your puppy’s body language is saying about what they are feeling.  You want to look out for any sign your puppy is unsure.  Now is the time to be a proactive and protective puppy parent.

What is socialization?

Socialization is not about letting your puppy play with as many dogs as possible and meet as many people as possible. It is about teaching your puppy the skills and habits necessary for participating within society; while being happy and confident in the world around him. Socialization for pups seems to be generally defined by many dog lovers as the act of meeting and playing with other dogs which can create many long term behavior problems, watch this video to learn more:socialization the right way

Puppy Grooming

Every puppy regardless of length of adult coat will need to be comfortable with nail trims, having their teeth looked at and being bathed.  Long coated breeds like poodle mixes have special challenges, because they have to learn how to be comfortable with these types of things on top of also having to learn how to be comfortable with clippers, brushing, and going to the groomers.

Here are some tips to help your puppy learn to not just tolerate these things, but learn to truly LOVE these things.

Brushing tips:

  • Brush your puppy for short sessions every night when he is tired.  This will be easier than trying to brush a wild puppy that just woke up.
  • Offer your puppy a greenie, bully stick or peanut butter stuffed kong while you are brushing him to keep the biting end occupied.
    • You can also do three brush strokes then give a treat.
  • Your breeder or puppy foster should have started this before you brought your puppy home, but if they didn’t … don’t worry it isn’t to late.

Nail Trim Tips:

  • Play with your puppies nails every night for five minutes. (Set a timer)
  • Fake clip one nail, then give your puppy a treat.  Repeat this doing one nail at a time throughout puppy hood for five minute increments.
  • If your puppy is struggling ask your self is it truely the nail trims that are upsetting them or is it the restraint?  If it is the restraint, practice training your puppy to CHOOSE to stay while you touch his paws.

Grooming Tips:

  • The ideal age for puppy to go to the groomer for the first time is between 4 and 5 months.
  • Before going to the groomer for your appointment bring your puppy to meet the groomer.  Let them meet the groomer, check out the place and get treats from everyone.
  • Choose a groomer who is gental and uses treats, so that your puppy has a positive first grooming experience.
  • The first time a puppy goes to the groomer he should already be comfortable with all of the above.  If he is not, hold off on your trip until you have had a few weeks of practice under his belt.

Bath time tips:

  • Prefill the bath tub with only a little water.  The rushing running water can be scary.
  • Put on shorts and get in the tub with them.
  • Add toys to the bath tub make it a play session.
  • Put peanut butter on the wall to distract them.

For more tips and tricks for helping your puppies with this check out these links below!

how to give your puppy his first bath

Before your first vet trip to Participate in Procedures

Train The Love Of Nail Trims

 

 

 

fearful dog

Bringing Home A Fearful Dog

fearful dog

What you need to know about caring for your fearful dog?

  • Fearful dogs are a huge escape risk and if they escape they can be really hard to catch. Make sure you have current tags and microchip information on your dog at all times.
  • You will also want to make sure your fence is free of holes and possibly add a baby gate to the front door if you don’t have a backup fence.
  • Your fearful dog will need to have a calm environment to decompress from shelter life. For some dogs this could be a few days for others; especially dogs coming from puppy mills or hoarding situations, this could be months.
  • You should set up safe places around the house where your dog can escape from kids in the home or guests. These should be treated as no entry areas for children. Examples of these could be mudrooms, bathrooms, a dog bed in the corner or under a table.
  • Make notes as you discover things that trigger your dog’s fear. Keep a written list.

If you know your dog struggles with fear it is important to understand that you should have a physical and behavioral evaluation done on your dog. You may want to ask your vet about prescription anti-anxiety meds to help your dog cope with daily life.

Rules for living with an extremely fearful dog:

  • Your dog should have a routine; small changes can cause your new dog stress.
  • Long walks same time every day, guided away from stress producing stimuli. Avoid places like playgrounds, groups of people and busy streets. You may choose odd hours to walk if you live in a busy city. If your dog is too scared to go on walks relaxation time in a fenced yard is another option.
  • Continue to make notes about your dog’s progress and setbacks.
  • Plan on doing a behavior assessment with a trainer about every 6 months to make sure you are on the right track.
  • One handler, sorry I would love to say this isn’t true and encourage everyone to be on board, but that isn’t what is best for your dog. Fearful dogs NEED to bond with a person, and being the center of attention may set this back. Bonding helps combat the stress hormones.
  • Time is key, it is better to take too much time than not enough. The biggest mistake you can make is to push to fast or force your dog.
  • Provide your dog with escape routes such as dog doors to a secure yard or garage for times of stress. Since successful fear aggression will become a self-reinforcing behavior. Dogs with escape routes typically try escaping first.
  • Always remember that no dog can learn while his brain is flooded with stress hormones. Stress hormones cause “brain freeze”.

Helping your fearful dog heal

Fear can be managed and healed, but not trained away. There are skills that you can use to help your dog when scared, but fear will continue to lurk deep inside your dog’s amygdala. Your job is to help your dog recover from fearful events quicker and experience fearful events less frequently.

Work to build your dog’s self-confidence through positive training and gentle encouragement. When it is time to start trying to teach obedience start with come, touch and eye contact these can all be useful skills for a fearful dog to learn.

Be your fearful dog’s advocate. If you feel your trainer, vet, friend or spouse is being to forceful have the courage to care and be your dog’s advocate.

Another dog

Fearful dogs often bond quicker to another dog and adding another dog to the home may help your dog with the process. Be picky if you choose to go this route. You want to make sure that the dog you choose is gentle, non-reactive, confident and friendly. It should also be a balance of good with your dog and respectful of your dogs space. Set up several meet and greets before firmly deciding on a dog.

Training and Animal Welfare

reward training shelter dogsAnimal welfare is finally getting to a place where animal shelters are recognizing the need to provide enrichment and training.  Educating owners and providing dogs with life skills is becoming an essential part of best practices for shelters and rescues.

Why do we choose reward based training for shelter dogs? 

Shelter dogs are under huge stress.   It goes against animal welfare to knowingly add additional stressors to their life.

There are two ways to change a behavior:

  1. Make the unwanted behavior less rewarding- adds stress
  2. Make an alternative behavior more rewarding- decreases stress

It really is that simple, but why do we choose reward based training?  Reward based training is more forgiving of handler mistakes. If an owner, volunteer or foster’s timing is off or if you miss use a tool with reward based training the dog simply gets an extra treats.

Since reward based training is more forgiving it makes it easier for volunteers who aren’t professional dog trainers to be effective.  Reward trained behaviors also transition easier to the new home.   An older person or younger child can withhold a reward, but they may not be capable of implementing effective body blocking techniques.   It works even if you are a smaller person handling a larger stronger dog.

It also builds confidence in the dog.  A large number of shelter dogs lack confidence. Confidence is needed for a adopter to have a smooth first trip to the vet and a confident dog will transition more easily to new environments.

Why is it important for shelters to offer training to their residents?

It provides mental stimulation known as enrichment, increases how quickly animals get adopted, prevents bad habits from developing and helps keep the dog in their new home.

When you think about why dogs come to the shelter in the first place the demographics of a surrendered dog are worth mentioning.  Most dogs surrendered to an animal shelter are adolescent dogs in their teenage years.  Why?  Well my guess is it’s because they have puppy brains and adult bodies.  They are coming into their teenage years and owners often mistake their lack of self control and focus as “Rebellion”.  Common puppy problems go from cute to annoying pretty quickly.

Training in the shelter starts with clear communication. If one volunteer is teach off means no jumping and another is using down and one is saying here while the other says “come” that can be confusing.

What about fosters?

Foster parents play a HUGE role in adoptability of their foster dogs.  They can also play a even bigger role in if an adoption sticks or not.

Foster parents of puppies are responsible for insuring that puppies grow up to become confident, stable dogs that developed bite inhibition during puppy hood.  Puppy fosters should be guided in finding safe ways to socialize their puppies and should be provided with resources to help guide them in puppy development.  Two of my favorite resources for puppy fosters are:

1.DR. DUNBAR raising puppies

2.Puppy Culture- from birth to adoption

Adult dogs also need their foster parents to help prepare them for their new life.  While shelter dogs aren’t broken many could benefit from learning skills like coming when called, not jumping up, and learning core skills like leave it.  Here is my favorite resource for adult dog fosters.

Free Dog Training- ONLINE

Hope this helps inspire you to bring training to your local shelter or rescue.”The shelter environment can be stressful for dogs, but shelter staff and volunteers can help ease that stress by providing enrichment opportunities and activities. Many of these enrichment activities also help dogs become more adoptable. Every dog needs our assistance to become more adoptable or to stay adoptable until he/she finds a wonderful home. You can make a big difference in shelter dogs’ quality of life by adding enrichment with your time, attention and love.”

 

shelter training and playgroup

Sparky and Charlie playing while at the Humane Society of the South Platte Valley

Free Dog Training

We are so excited to make our core content accessible to everyone.
That means shelter staff, foster parents, people with new puppies and new adopters can get six weeks of class content. One Curious Dog Videos will show you how teach your dog to stay focused and engage with you and teach you to teach your dog or puppy core skills like down, stay, focus and leave it.
Lesson 1:
Lesson 2:
Lesson 3:
Please share the first three classes and subscribe so you can keep up as we add new classes!

 

Recall Games

teaching your dog to come

Round Robin Recall This game is easy to play as long as you have more than one person.  It is great for teaching your dog to come to everyone in the home.

When you are playing this game you will need to make sure that everyone playing has lots of small sized treats that your dog is crazy for.

This is easy to play, just stand in a circle and call your dog to you.  When your dog get to you give him a treat for coming when called.  If your dog gets really good at it try it from farther and farther away.

Sometimes your dog will get really good at this game and guess who is going to call them, then have someone else call the dog to come.

Run and Hide- If you have aspirations of having a dog that walks with you on off-leash hikes this is an excellent exercises for your dog to learn to come.  It not only teaches your dog to come, but it also teaches your dog to pay attention to where you are.    For this you need a long-line leash and lots of yummy treats.  Long- line leashes should be long enough you can allow your dog to have freedom, but light enough your dog can’t feel that he is wearing one.

Next time your out and about with your dog wait for your dog to get a little to far ahead.  Once your dog gets a little far ahead of you sneak away and hide behind the nearest tree.  When your dog finds you get super excited and give lots of treats and praise.  Your dog will start to think “I really have to keep an eye on my person, because she’ll sneak away.

Catch me if you can- This one is really easy to.  It uses a little bit of frustration to build a fast recall and a strong desire for your dog to want to come when called. For this you will need a way to escape from your dog and yummy treats.

Wait until your dog isn’t looking at you and say “come” a second later run into another room as fast as you can and close the door behind you.  Once in the other room try squeaking a squeaky toy.  If your dog catches you before you make it into the other room he gets a treat, but your goal should be to get there before he does.

When you leave the room.  Ignore the dog and wait for him to get distracted again then repeat.

training come

Treat-toss- This exercise is fabulous for teaching straight, centered and correct recalls.  It also builds faster recalls.  For this you will need yummy treats.  Start the game by facing your dog with your feet wide.  Next say “come”. The second your dog looks your way move backward and when your dog get close enough toss the treat between your legs so your dog chases the treat.  This will teach your dog to target the center of your body.  The thrill of chasing the reward will also teach your dog to hustle when he hears come.

teaching your dog to come

For more ideas on teaching a nice recall read,  Rules For Recall.

Want to watch training “Come” step by step?

Rules For Recall

teaching dogs to come

When you recall your dog what do you get? A dog that comes the first time you ask? Many dogs struggle with different aspects of obtaining a reliable recall. Dogs often recall slowly to their owners, stopping to sniff along the way or only come half way. More often than not owners are actually training their dogs to have poor recalls. Here are some rules to follow when training the recall so that you don’t create behavior issues in your dog.

Rules for Recall
1. Define what “Come” means to you and your dog: In order for your dog to have a strong recall he needs to have clear expectations. Does come mean walk over and stand in your general area? Does it mean come and sit in front of you? I like to teach a dog to come so that they are right in front of me facing me. Like in the photo. That allows me to easily grab my dog’s collar if it is needed.training
2. Don’t say “Come” unless you can make it happen: Think of the world from your dog’s point of view. There are so many rewarding smells and actives. Dogs are opportunistic which means that they choose the option that holds the most benefits to them. If you call your dog and they have the choice not to come they will be rewarding themselves for making the wrong choice. Therefore they are actually practicing and getting better at not coming when called.
3. Only say it once: If it doesn’t happen change something that will make it happen, such as increasing reward, pulling them towards you or by making it less rewarding not to come. Repeating the cue, makes it more likely that your dog will choose to ignore you in the future.
4. Don’t use “come” to end the party: If your dog is at the dog park, having a great time barking at the back fence or chasing a squirrel and your dog recalls to you. Reward him and allow him to go back and play otherwise your dog will start to avoid recalling for fear that you will make the fun stop if they comply.
5. Move away from your dog: Stop being so darn boring. If you ask your dog to come jog backwards or run away from your dog. This will prevent your dog from practicing a slow recall. It will build a much faster recall.
6. Practice for perfection: Whatever you get during practice you are going to loose some of that precision when distractions are added. If you allow your dog to stop 1-2 feet away from you it will turn into 3-5 feet when you actually need it, so be picky about what you accept.
7. Keep the leash on: After you have gotten a strong recall on-leash don’t go right to off-leash. Instead go to a long line leash of 10-15 feet. Once you don’t need the backup of the long line progress to a longer line before going strait to off-leash. This goes back to rule 2.

For other ideas on teaching recalls read this, Recall Games

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Counter Surfing

I so frequently try and look at the world from a dog’s perspective that when I think about counter surfing I can’t help, but smile and think “Ah, what a rewarding activity”.  This is the perfect example of a self rewarding activity.    

If you were going to train your dog how to steal food off the counter how would you do it?  Maybe, by leaving something yummy within reach?  This accidently happens in all to many households.  The good news is this is a fixable behavior through management and training. 

 How to manage counter surfing 

When training your dog it is also best to try and set your dog up to be successful.  One of the easiest ways to do that is DON’T LEAVE STUFF OUT on the counter your dog can eat.  

Here are some other helpful tips: 

Have no-go rooms:  These are rooms that your dog isn’t allowed in such as the kitchen, bathroom or dinning room.  While the layout of your house may not allow for all of these consider if this is an option for you.   

Catch it before:  If you notice your dog looking to see what’s up on the counters or sniffing the air on the counters discourage that immediately. 

Give your dog more enrichment:  If your dog enjoys seeking out rewards and finding treasures, like a loaf of bread from the counter then give him a appropriate way to do that.  Do a treat scavenger hunt around the house or in the yard.  You can also use a enrichment feeder like a KONG wobbler.   more enrichment ideas

Here are some more counter surfing ideas: 

Your dog is more likely to steal treasures from the counter if your not right there watching him, so when your not supervising your dog try using a kennel or baby gate to protect the goods.   

Try making counter surfing less rewarding.  If you have a more sensitive dog leaving tin foil or bubble wrap on the edge of your counter.  Know your dog though, this may only work dogs that are sensitive with touch.  Also, be sure your dog isn’t the type to eat these things. 

 My favorite way to work on this is to use the “leave it” cue.  If your dog doesn’t yet know leave it try this link:  Teaching Leave It 

Once your dog knows leave it put him on a leash and set up a ton of fake training situations, by leaving “bait” on the edge of a counter or coffee table. 

Start close to your dog and using low value bait –in other words don’t try this with steak on your first session.  Wait for your dog to notice the bait then tell him to “leave it”.   

When you say leave it your dog has a choice.  Choice 1, choose to counter surf… choice 2, choose to leave it.  If your dog chooses to counter surf use your leash to prevent him from reaching the bait.  If he is able to snatch the bait he has rewarded himself for making the right choice.  Wait, you may have to wait a long, long time the first couple of try’s.  Then when your dog gives up trying to steal food off the counter say “Yes” and give your dog a extra yummy food reward.   

Be sure to practice this on coffee tables, counters, and dinning room tables. 

Practice this until you can no longer trick your dog into even trying to steal the bait, then take it a step father.   

Using a longer leash try moving father away and having your dog leave it.  You can even try hiding around the corner and just peeking while saying leave it.

 counter surfing

 Happy Training 

 

 

Tricks Event

Englewood Tricks Title EventAt Bennett Canine Training we love encouraging our students to take their training to the next step and strongly believe EVERY dog can and should be able to pass a Canine Good Citizen Test. 

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What is the Canine Good Citizen Test?  It is a ten point test open to ALL breeds and mixes.  The test is looking for basic manners and stability in public.  Our students reach this goal feeling closer to their dogs and feeling very proud of their accomplishments.  It is also a perfect first title for a owner. I encourage students to attempt to pass their Canine Good Citizen before working towards goals like public access for service animals, therapy work or even the BH (Which is the first level title in IPO). 

Learn more about Canine Good Citzen

Once our students complete the AKC Canine Good Citizen we don’t want to see their training stop so we encourage them to consider sports like Rally, Advanced Canine Good Citizens or my favorite AKC Tricks Titles. 

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You can train for Trick titles at home on your own or in our Drop in Trick classes that we offer in Englewood Colorado.  What I love about the Trick Titles is it is really geared towards HELPING your dog be successful.  Plus, once again ALL breeds can title!  

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We held our second ever AKC Tricks Title Event a few weeks ago.  We offered the AKC Canine Good Citizen and right after we offered the AKC Tricks Titles Testing.  It worked our perfectly and boy-o-boy did we have a turnout.

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Please enjoy these photos and if you would like to learn about our next Tricks class or event find us on FACEBOOK! 

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