If it isn’t fun why do it?

DSC_0124I was on the outdoor store’s website when I saw it.  There was a SUP with your pup class and all that was required was to bring your well-behaved dog and their vaccinations. In an hour and a half they would have you on the water.

Now anyone who knows me knows that I am all about having a good time with my dogs.  But here is the big question-IS IT FUN FOR THE DOG OR IS IT SCARY?  This is a question that even we as the most enthusiastic owners need to ask before attempting any activity or it’s just not fair. Also if you REALLY WANT TO SUCCEED AND BUILD DRIVE so that your dog loves to do this with you, take your time.  Trying new activities with your dog can be a real thrill.  We just need to make sure they have the physical capability and mental attitude required to feel comfortable attempting this new activity.

If your dog has never been in the water it’s probably best to get them accustomed to a life jacket and then gradually expose them to swimming in a safe and force-free environment.  I like getting in the water with them and encouraging them with toys, treats and praise. Once they are comfortable if the task involves movement and balance I would introduce the kayak or SUP on dry land while on foam blocks and practice teaching the dog to enter and stay in place reinforcing with treats and praise.  This can take not just hours but days or even weeks. The next step is teaching the dog to ignore distractions such as birds and animals.

IT ISN’T FUN WHEN THEY GET TIRED and it’s often hard for owners to stop an activity.  Sometimes we get so excited to continue what we enjoy that we forget about how the dog may feel about it.  Even the most friendly of dogs may get tired of those therapy visits.  I recently read of a school system that was rotating therapy dogs all day long in their classrooms.  Dogs unlike school equipment need a break and sometimes have off days. They may not be up to it and this can lead to stress and all that comes with it.

GO WITH THE FLOW and enjoy those special moments with your dog but keep in mind that his way of telling you that it’s time for a break may be less obvious but important for his well being.

®DoriceStancher, Canines Can Do, llc 2018 All rights reserved.




I have a new puppy what do I do?

This question gets me really excited because it means that the owner is beginning a fresh new start.  Like any other new adventure it is combined with anticipation, expectations, a little fear and the desire to seek new information to have a positive outcome.

One of the most important things a new puppy owner can do is to prepare for the arrival. The first three big puppy challenges are housebreaking, mouthing and biting and creating a foundation of basic obedience.

Housebreaking is a challenge with a new puppy.  It is so tempting to get caught up in the cuteness and allow them everywhere including your bed when they cry.  This is not a good idea as they often will pee there.  Instead choose a crate that is appropriately sized so that your puppy can walk in, turn around and lie down. If it is bigger they may also relieve themselves there.  In the beginning use a small towel instead of a bed inside just in case they make a mess.  You will want to get your dog used to the crate by leaving the door open and keeping it where you are.  You can put treats and a soft toy in the crate and practice shutting the door. Make sure puppy gets enough exercise during the day or he will be up all night.

If you have an open floor plan think of where to place your gates so that the puppy does not have too much freedom. Make sure to make your home safe for puppy removing things that they can get into that might be harmful. If you cannot watch your puppy they should be confined otherwise they will poop and pee where you least expect it.  Take your puppy outside to go potty after they wake up, if they circle and sniff, after a play session, and after eating and drinking. That’s a lot of going outside but things will begin to settle into a pattern.  If your puppy is successful going outside add a word and praise/treat when they are successful. Your best opportunity is when they first wake up. The moment they are up and moving pick them up and take them out. If you let their feet touch the floor there is a good chance they will go to the bathroom so carry them out in the beginning.

Mouthing and Biting will happen within days of coming home. At first there is usually a lot of sleeping but once they are over the shock of leaving their litter mates they will look to you for that rambunctious fun and it is not pretty.  Those sharp teeth will get into everything so you will need to be prepared.  Every puppy should come with an appropriately sized Kong or similar toy that can contain an item like peanut butter.  I like to freeze them and have on hand when those teeth hurt and cause them to bite.  There are also soft toys that contain no stuffing that are great to use as substitutes when puppies become mouthy.  We offer as a substitute and praise when they take. There are also many biting deterrents like Bitter Apple that can be sprayed on hands and other surfaces like clothing to deter this behavior.

Puppies like to chew lots of soft things so please put those things of value away until puppy goes through this period of growth or keep the puppy in a safe place.

The umbilical method uses a leash to keep puppy at your side so that you can monitor and direct his behavior. This is often very useful for training as long as you remember that puppy may need time to go to the bathroom or crate time.

Basic Obedience should start the moment the puppy arrives.  I know this may seem unbelievable but puppies are so smart they learn every moment they are with you.  Start teaching your dog some basics like sit and down.  You can also start teaching self control behaviors like waiting for the food bowl and leave it.  For the food bowl I have my dog SIT and then put down the bowl as I say “okay”.  This teaches the puppy to learn to please you.  For the leave it I put the treat in my hand. I have another treat in my other hand. When I tell them to leave it I wait until they give up trying and treat from the other hand.  Then I switch to other items. Tricks are a fun way to teach obedience and get children involved.  I like having families choose their commands and then keeping their list in a place like the kitchen so they all use the same words.

Having a puppy can be a challenge but the time you spend training at this important time will really be worth it.DSC_0426

My dog won’t come when called…

One of the biggest problems pet owners face is getting their dogs to come to them when called.  What many people don’t realize is how quickly dogs become conditioned to ignoring us or turning an opportunity into a game.  For instance,  your dog grabs your shoes and you call them and they run away as you chase them.  The game is on!  You race to catch him, he’s faster and there’s teeth marks and dog spit on everything.  What is an owner to do?

Here are some ways to get things under control.  First, you want to condition your dog to associate returning to you with something of value and certainly NOT punishment. I mean would YOU approach someone who is going to scream at you?  I think not.  I like to play hide and go seek in the home with my dog. I use the simple word COME and reward with praise first and then a cookie.  I do this several times. To this I add the GOTCHA, which is a gentle grasp of the collar and a treat simultaneously. This way my dog will let me get closer and actually grasp them.  I do this slowly and gradually.  I also like adding a partner and playing the Rebound Recall where the dog is in the middle and takes turns coming to each family member when called.  We praise from the very moment they look at the person who called them. Don’t forget moving away from your dog and clapping your hands urges the prey drive and gets them excited to return to you.  Finally we practice this outside in a fenced yard or on a leash.  Every family member should be consistent. In some cases the word COME has been so overused and has lost meaning that we need to change the word to something else.  Another way to get your dog to return to you is to add a sound like a whistle.  When the dog pays attention encourage him to come then praise and treat.  Be careful not to lure the dog by showing the food otherwise if you don’t have food the dog will hesitate and often not come without it.  In general dogs respond better when they are put on a “learn to earn” program where all good things are only given when the dog does something the owner asks.  Finally, with a partner you can get a dog more excited about coming by having one hold him back while the other person races to the other side of the room and encourages him to come.  Remember to praise for racing toward you and do not ask the dog to sit. We are praising and rewarding for coming when called.

Copyright ®2018Dorice Stancher/Canines Can Do, llc All rights reserved.L1030280


Halloween Can Be a Great Time to Train

I know what you’re thinking?  Is she for real?  With all of those kids knocking ringing the doorbell with those scary costumes I’m just too busy to train my dog.  Let me offer a few suggestions on how you can use this opportunity to your advantage.

And don’t forget to train your family to keep candy up high and out of reach of your dog.  We all know that chocolate and artificial sweeteners are harmful to our dogs.

Who are you? Is your dog a “scaredy cat”, “escape artist”, “bold greeter”?

Once you identify the personality and stye of your dog you can choose from several options the most important being securing the environment.

For “scaredy cats”  why not choose a festive holiday bandana and spray a little Adaptil on it?  You can put on some nice quiet music to screen out the noise outside and if your dog likes their crate, this is a nice secure environment.  I often use treat release toys and always exercise before crating so that they are tired. You can also use an Adaptil plug-in for the room environment. Signs of fear include a tucked tail, showing the whites of the eyes, panting and yawning and can lead to aggression with stiff body posture, ears forward tail wagging in a stiff manner or carried over the back.  If you cannot crate your dog closing the door and putting a sign that the dog is in the room is another idea or you can use a gate.

For the “escape artist” there are the choices of using the crate or gates but another idea is to use the umbilical method where the dog is actually attached to you.  This often helps those dogs that cannot be left alone but at the same time pose an escape risk.  I arm myself with high value treats like chicken or steak in a treat pouch and use this opportunity to teach my dog to do a behavior when the doorbell rings.  I place a little platform in the room and when the doorbell rings I send my dog to the platform.  To make things easier I place a bowl outside of the door with a sign instructing them to take a treat.  This way I can see their costumes, greet them and let them catch a glimpse of my well-trained dog.

For the “bold greeter” I once again pack a treat pouch with high value treats and take a nice walk in my neighborhood. Look for signs of fear as described above. If you dog carries himself in a loose and wiggly manner and enjoys the walk with all the little ones running around you can practice some obedience basics with distractions at a distance. This is a great opportunity for socialization and distraction training.

Remember if children run toward you this can be frightening to your dog and it’s important to ask them to approach slowly and greet the dog by having him sniff their hands. If you do not want to greet it’s okay to simply walk away and return home. Your dog comes first.  You can also use a no-jump harness to get a better control on things but please no prongs or choke collars because often dogs make the incorrect assumption that the child approaching caused the correction.

Happy Halloween to everyone and happy training!



By Dorice Stancher ©2016 Canines Can Do, llc http://www.caninescando.comhttps---blueprint-api-production.s3.amazonaws.com-uploads-card-image-139981-tsadog2.jpgYou’ve seen them at airports and felt secure knowing they were doing their jobs to keep you safe.  And now it’s time for them to feel loved and safe in their own homes. 

What could be better than having an intelligent and mature dog that is comfortable around noise and crowds, has an honest work ethic and has plenty of love and drive to excel at any canine activity including competitive sports?  According to the TSA release the dogs ranging in age from 2 to 10 includes some impressive breeds known for their intelligence, beauty and work ethic including: German Short-Haired Pointers, Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois. All of them are spayed or neutered and they are FREE.  And the adoptees also include those that were unable to complete the program. Here are some important things to know prior to considering adoption:

  • These dogs were raised in kennels so they will need time to adjust to living in your home.
  • The dogs are located in San Antonio, Texas so you will need to travel there to pick up your dog after completing the necessary paperwork and going through the formal application process which includes signing an indemnity letter.
  • Once you have submitted the necessary paperwork you will receive a photo of your dog. Counselors work with families to assist in finding the right home for each dog.

Want to learn more?  Contact the TSA now by emailing the adoption coordinator at: AdoptaTSAcanine@OLE.tsa.dhs.gov.



Learning shouldn’t hurt…

Sometimes balance can be a good thing. But in dog training the word “balanced” is often a pseudonym for use the use of punishment-based training. This style of training alternates between praise for success and pain in the form of a choke, electronic nick or physical contact. It can unhinge nervous dogs to the point of becoming reactive or just plain sullen and distant. It is a relationship based on fear rather than wanting to please the owner.

Balanced trainers often cite their success with training “difficult” dogs and working dogs.  Many of them do board and train so their clients do not need to witness their dog being shocked repeatedly for not sitting correctly and the like.  And when the dogs return the behaviors gradually begin to fall apart since the family does not keep up with reinforcement therefore the need to often return for more “training”.  In another example a trainer will use their ands vigorously to push the dog into a sit or down or to sharply pull upward choking the dog in a correction in order to make them sit more quickly rather than teaching the dog to sit first and then reading only for the quicker sits.

Yes you need patience for positive training.  There are no shortcuts to teaching and learning. Anyone who has spent time in a classroom as a student knows this.

Right now veterinary colleges and institutes of higher learning like the the Penn Vet Working Dog Center are taking the initiative and exploring new positive methods for training working dogs positively. The result is a dog that likes to work, wants to work as part of their nature, and is reward-based not punishment-oriented.  And there is a stronger bond between handlers and their dogs who serve police departments, patrol our airports and whose lives we depend on.

I am a trainer with a long-abandoned balanced past.  At one time I was reliant on the choke collar as it was all that was used for training for obedience.  And I hated it. Eventually I abandoned the use of it and sought out new ways to get better attention and response from my dog. After all the higher obedience exercises were all off-leash.  I wanted my dog to want to please me and I wanted to enjoy having a dog that actually liked to work.  And having a terrier to top it off, I was told I was a dreamer thinking that I could even think of training it to be a working dog.  I am here to tell you that it is possible.  My Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers became part of a grand experiment to prove not only the breed’s versatility but to also nourish my need to find a method that made sense and did not cause pain to my dogs and guilt in me.

Using positive leadership-based methods do work provided that they are applied with consistency, in multiple settings and with limit-setting.  My dogs get absolutely nothing for free…ever.  Their food, attention, going outside, in and out of the car, on the sofa-all of this must be earned. And it will be a part of their lives forever.  This is how I maintain the bond. I expect it of them and nothing less. And we are happy together doing all sorts of things that people told us we could not do. This form of obedience blends into our everyday lives and they not only listen but are quite happy to do so.

As a professional certified trainer  I highly suggest that you consider this style of training for your dogs no matter what their breed.  I have always felt that dogs should have a chance to learn behaviors first, reinforced by something of value and taught in multiple locations. Dogs are not universal learners like we are.  Commands need to be short and sweet and sound like you mean business. Some dogs are visual learners and hand signals are another way of communicating.  Positive reinforcement and leadership-based methods builds confidence in dogs that have had a rough start like rescues and also those dogs that are a bit of a challenge.

Having your dog know the value of rewards including attention, food, freedom, praise and play and who they come from-create a better-behaved, respectful dog that listens without hurting them physically or emotionally.

®Dorice Stancher 2016 Canines Can Do, llc® All rights reserved.

Dorice Stancher is a professional trainer certified CPDT-KA, CTDI with an MBA in Organizational Behavior. Her dogs have titled in Obedience/Rally, Conformation, Barn Hunt, Pet Therapy and Dock Diving. They enjoy paddle boarding and dogsledding when not competing.

Getting your dog to look at you…

One of the biggest complaints I receive from pet owners besides barking and jumping is that their dogs simply will not pay attention to them in public. They are so distracted.  Here are some simple tips to teach your dog to acknowledge and check in with you. Remember the more that you reinforce a behavior, the more likely it is to increase.

  1. Have your dog earn all of their rewards.  For me this is the most important foundation to all training.  It is simple, easy and once made a part of your everyday routine establishes your position as leader.  Waiting for the food bowl, having your dog wait and then on permission follow you outside, waiting when crossing the street and asking permission before being allowed on the sofa by offering a behavior are all a part of the plan.
  2. Teach your dog to look at you. Start in a quiet place like your home, then move outdoors and try different venues like pet stores and banks.  One way to do this is  to praise your dog every time they look at you. Another is to actually teach this behavior by taking a treat and placing it up by your nose so that as your dog looks at you they look into your eyes.  A quick ‘Yes” to confirm their success. Then once they understand see if you can move the treat to the side of your face, say their name and get eye contact.  Say your dog’s name and then WAIT for them to look at you. Say it once.  And when they do big praise and a nice treat.
  3. Be interesting! Besides using your voice you can pat your leg, change your pace and your voice, use a sound that catches their attention, master silly walks.  The goal is to be far more interesting than anything else in the environment. Squeak a toy, whistle or prance and when you get that look praise and treat.
  4. Take your training on the road. In the photo above Krista and I are practicing at Porcelanosa in Ramsey, NJ. Ask permission from local store owners. Pet stores are a good place to start, moving up to local banks which for the most part are dog-friendly. Remember to bring a treat pouch so you can work hands-free, wear comfortable shoes, and have your dog go to the bathroom BEFORE you even think of entering the store. When training outside the home I make sure that my dog will WAIT until I give her permission to leave the car and before entering any building.  Most pet-friendly shop owners will be thrilled to see that you have practiced this skill. And once your dog has begun getting in the habit of working for you it just gets better and better!

What treats do I use for training in public?  Cooked chicken, beef and cheese cut up into very small pieces.  When the weather is warmer I bring a small lunch tote with ice to keep things fresh.

My next article is dining with your dog in public.

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Copyright Canines Can Do, llc® Dorice Stancher 2016, all rights reserved.