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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Muzzle Myths

muzzle myths

lab comfortable in a well fit muzzle

“Muzzles have done more to protect owners and their dogs than legislation”, quote by Dr Mugford.

A muzzle is not a bad thing… yes, that’s right lets say it again.  A muzzle is not a bad thing.  Many people feel a tinge of shame, fear or embarrassment when they are told their dog should be muzzle trained.  I would love to see the muzzle stigmas removed.  Here is my attempt to help dog owners understand muzzles just a little bit better.

 

Let’s start by busting some myths:

My dog can’t eat or drink with a muzzle on. 

There are different types of muzzles.  Some are ideal for vet clinics and others are perfect for training, because they allow your dog to drink, pant and eat through the muzzle.  The best muzzles for training reactive dogs are basket muzzles.

 

A muzzle will not fit my dog. 

Yes, it will.  Deerhounds, rotties, pugs, and great danes there is a muzzle that will comfortably fit every dog breed.  There is a muzzle on the market for every dog in every shape and size… heck there are even goat muzzles available.  There are even muzzles that can be purchased, heated up in the microwave and custom fit to your dogs face.  Make sure that you pick a muzzle that fits your dog and if your not sure how to do this click here fitting muzzles.

 

Muzzles will make my dog look scary looking. 

Maybe, this is true, but muzzles are frequently used by responsible owners in all sorts of situations – such as controlling excitable animal during vet visit, when meeting new dogs, or during busy events and gatherings – and new products have been designed to be welfare friendly. They are another great tool in the training box for responsible owners – alongside good discipline and positive reinforcement – and ultimately provide peace of mind if you are worried about a dog’s reaction.

 

My dog can’t protect himself in a muzzle.

Yes, that right they can’t.  That being said it is our responsibility to protect our dog.  If you are putting your dog in situations where he feels like he needs to protect himself or really actually needs to protect himself then that maybe a even bigger problem.  If your dog has a opportunity to bite a human or another animal that could be a really big problem.  Thousands of dogs a year are euthanized for behaving badly.  This allows you to protect your dog from his own behavior.

 

“I can handle my dog without a muzzle.”  and “I really don’t think he needs one” 

A dog biting a human or animal is a really big deal.  With tougher laws surrounding antisocial dog behavior coming into force, dog owners might find themselves worried what the changes could mean for them. The legal changes mean a possible 14-year prison sentence for owners of dogs that kill, as well as tougher terms for people whose animals attack a person in a home or private property, or attack assistance animals such as guide dogs.  Here’s the deal you don’t only wear a seat belt when you ride in a car because you anticipate getting into a car wreck, it is just incase.  If you wear it and don’t get into a wreck it’s no big deal, but if you get into a wreck and your not wearing one you may wish you had been.  The same is true for a muzzle, if there is any potential for your dog biting a human or animal it is your responsibility to fit your dog with a muzzle.  Don’t let ego cloud your judgment.

To learn how to teach your dog to love wearing a muzzle read this: Muzzle Training

 

Why Didn’t Obedience Classes Work?

The Right Tool for the Job

Pat Blocker, CPDT-KA, is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer with over 19 years experience. She offers private in-home training specializing in solving canine behavior issues. 

Trick dog training kids

kids can train too!

“I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” – Abraham Maslow

“What do you want to get from this class?” It happens in almost every obedience class orientation. Someone responds to that question with the likes of, “I want my dog to stop barking and lunging at other dogs.” “I want my dog to stop growling at children.” “I want my dog to stop barking all day while I’m at work.”

Owners are surprised to learn that the aforementioned are behavior issues, which cannot be effectively addressed with obedience training. In reality, there is obedience training and there is behavior modification. They are not the same. To use Maslow’s analogy, attempting to solve behavior issues with obedience training is treating the problem like a nail, because the only tool we think to be available is a hammer.

The widely held belief that obedience classes are an easy fix to all problems can ultimately result in owners believing that training doesn’t work. Take the problem of barking, for instance. The dog that is barking all day while home alone is not disobedient or unruly. Her barking might be due to separation anxiety, boredom, and/or lack of basic needs being met. It’s not a disobedient dog that is growling at children or barking and lunging at other dogs. The behavior could stem from, among other things, fear, which cannot be addressed with obedience training.

Behavior modification and obedience training have different objectives. Obedience training is for the disobedient and unruly dog. It sets boundaries and establishes rules. Behavior modification is intended to change the dog’s emotional state. It requires effective management and training that addresses the root cause of the problem. Manners can help with the management and control of many issues, but don’t change them on the emotional level. If we change the way a dog feels about something, we will change the way she behaves in its presence.

Behavior modification and obedience training are, however, intertwined. Obedience exercises can be taught to complement behavior modification. For instance, basic obedience training can help build the fearful dog’s confidence and leash-walking skills, like paying attention, can help the reactive dog. Basic obedience builds communication and both types of training help to establish a healthy relationship between owner and dog. (Communication and understanding canine body language are important elements in preventing problems and instrumental in the treatment of behavioral issues.)

Behavior modification addresses issues, which are often complex. It requires evaluation and treatment by a skilled trainer or behaviorist with knowledge of learning theory, animal behavior, and ethology. Some owners, believing that obedience training will solve behavioral issues may employ ineffective, even abusive punishment resulting in frustration (on both ends of the leash) without solving the problem.

Taking a dog in need of behavior modification to obedience class could make matters worse. For example, immersing the fearful dog into a roomful of other dogs, risks creating extreme fear and even damaging the owner-dog relationship.

Obedience training in lieu of behavior modification may not only exacerbate the problem, but can be unkind as well. In my opinion, it is cruel to ask the frightened dog to sit and look at me or to punish her in the presence of the thing that terrifies her. For example, training methods based on the theory of dominance, often use obedience as the solution. In theory, if the dog is afraid, make her obedient and submissive. Here, it appears that dominance has worked because the dog is not reacting. However, if anything, the dog is more afraid–afraid of the frightening situation and now of you. Pushed to her limits, she will revert to the old behavior. Punishment and dominance can serve to suppress the behavior, but like a beach ball held underwater, sooner or later, it will resurface.

Behavior modification takes you from reactive to proactive. Sure, I can correct a dog for lunging and barking at another dog. I can (maybe) get the dog to sit and look at me instead, but this won’t change future behavior.

Choosing the right training tool can be confusing because the same problem might require a different tool. For instance, your dog lunges and pulls on the leash whenever another dog passes. The problem could be solved either by obedience training or by behavior modification, depending on the emotion that lies beneath the behavior. Is the dog lunging at the passing dog because she is excited and wants to greet him, or is she doing it because she’s afraid and attempting to warn him off?

The friendly dog with no leash-walking skills wanting to greet the passing dog has, perhaps learned that lunging and pulling gets her what she wants. If she’s been allowed to pull her owner up to other dogs, she gets a payoff–greeting the dog. Here, we could use obedience training to teach polite meet and greets.

The fearful dog is lunging and barking at passing dogs in order to get space from them. She’s using a good offense as her best defense. A behavior modification plan to help her feel more comfortable in the presence of other dogs will address the root cause of the behavior. When the emotions behind the actions are dealt with, the lunging and barking will diminish naturally. Then, if we want to tweak leash-walking skills we’ll do some obedience training.

Knowing the difference between obedience training and behavior modification will help you choose the right tool for the job. Ensure that your training choice meets the criteria to resolve the issue by properly defining it, and then implement the plan. Now, you’ve nailed it.

 

Pat Blocker, CPDT-KA, is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer with over 19 years experience. She offers private in-home training specializing in solving canine behavior issues. Contact Pat at Peaceful Paws • 303-364-4681 • http://www.peacefulpaws.netpat@peacefulpaws.net. Pat the author of Taking the Lead with Jerking the Leash available on Amazon. www.peacefulpaws.net

 

Barking and Lunging Dog

“My dog barks and lunges when he sees other dogs. He is really friendly with them when I let him interact off leash. What should I do?” 

It sounds like you have a reactive dog. Reactivity is a way trainers describe dogs that over react to a trigger; such as another dog, people, cars, sounds or anything else that causes your dog to react. 

Owning a reactive dog comes with special challenges and frustrations.  Walking a reactive dog can often feel like a chore instead of an enjoyable experience. Reactive dog owners may find themselves experiencing a flurry of emotion ranging from embarrassment to frustration.    

 

What owners of reactive dogs need to remember is when a dog is being reactive, the dog is also experiencing a flurry of emotion. 

When a dog barks and lunges those behaviors are symptoms of an emotional response. If you change the emotion the behavior will fix itself. 

I know, that sounds way too simple, but it’s possible through counterconditioning. Counterconditioning changes the way a dog feels about a trigger through positive association. Counterconditioning alone will definitely reduce the intensity and frequency of these types of behaviors, but alone they will not fully solve them. 

Many dogs haven’t been taught how to control their behavior and they behave in the way that feels most natural to them. 

Another common trait most reactive dog share is a lack of doggy impulse control. Dogs are motivated by what feels most rewarding, so if chasing a squirrel yields a rush of positive emotion then that’s what they will dog.  Impulse control is what gives the dog the ability to hold a sit stay when a squirrel comes by or maintain a heel when passing another dog.  Dogs aren’t born with impulse control and it must be taught gradually.  To learn how to teach your dog impulse control:  click here

When to train and when to manage, understanding thresholds. 

Reactive dogs have what trainers often refer to as a threshold which is when a dog’s behavior changes due to a trigger.  Unlike the threshold of your front door, an emotional or behavior threshold doesn’t stay in the same place; it can change from minute to minute and from one situation to the next.  Training classes help owners to recognize when the threshold changes.  When dog’s are over thresh hold they are no longer in a place where they can learn and that becomes a time to manage instead of train.  It is a good idea to train behind thresh hold or before your dog reacts.   To get a better understanding of thresholds: https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/16_4/features/across-a-threshold_20726-1.html

It is best for a reactive dog to get a little bit of training either in a private session at a facility or in a in home setting prior to attending a group class.   These private classes help owners to understand when their dog is struggling with a emotional response and teach owners how to help their dogs through it. Just bringing a reactive dog to a group class without having these skills is guaranteed to be frustrating for the student. They’re not going to be able to pay attention to what the trainer is saying over their dog’s reactive behavior.   It’s also going to be stressful and frustrating for the dog. 

lunging dog

Boss during a protection training session