Want to get pet owners to train those new puppies right into adulthood? The answer may be simply introducing them to the “Do More With Your Dog” program created by famous Hollywood trainer and AKC Competitor, Kyra Sundance. This goal-oriented program creates a solid foundation of obedience in the format of simple “tricks” which owners track and apply to titles. Many of the behaviors recognized can actually be found in parallel tests such as the AKC STAR puppy program and the AKC Canine Good Citizen program. And there are also more complex behaviors that can possibly land a movie role.
Dr. Cindy Otto, Executive Director and Founder of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center credits the program with saving her relationship with her dog, a Bichon mix that had flunked obedience. She feels that this program is less stressful than obedience tasks, yet keeps dogs learning. “The component of failure is not there,” she said. “ Older dogs, young dogs are engaged and vibrant and the pedestal training helps with veterinary exams too,” said Otto. She is certified as a trick trainer with the program and recently held a workshop for pet owners. As the DMWYD program grows globally it is only a matter of time before we see more Wheaten Terriers listed on the website’s “wall of champions”.
There is no compulsion or aversive training here. The accent is on fun and positive reinforcement to create drive for both the human and canine partner. The behaviors are applicable to many AKC competitive venues including conformation, obedience, agility and more. But the best part is that owners can access learning videos and be a part of an online community of fellow tricksters for free.
The SPARK teams found on Facebook start the first of every month and guide participants through a list of behaviors to title at one of several levels. Each week new videos are posted and participants are encouraged to “strutt their stuff” and earn titles. By reducing the barriers to training, including accessibility and cost, and encouraging creativity and training in all settings, people of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds worldwide have embraced the program. And it continues to grow and benefit all types of dogs. Senior dogs needing mental stimulation can work with modified skills and dogs with anxiety thrive and develop confidence as they build a relationship based on trust, praise and having a good time learning.
Most recently I have incorporated trick training into not only my classes and private training, but with training my very own Wheaten Terriers and have found it to be quite addictive. Once you see what the breed is capable of as mastery reveals amazing feats, it is enticing and a little addictive to venture on and experiment pushing things further. Here’s to having more fun and embracing the joys and adventures of training!
Is your dog reactive? Does he bark and lunge and pull your arm out of the socket? Have walks become a bit of a struggle? Here are some simple and easy tips to turn things around and make walking fun again.
Socialize your puppy…Yes I know the vet says you cannot take them out until they have had all their shots. But does that mean that your puppy has to be like Rapunzel in the tower, locked away from human contact? Notice I said human contact. Pick up your little pooch and after he has gone to the bathroom at your “safe” place at home take him out with you to visit. You want to hold your little cutie and like any good parent bring some wipes so the humans have clean hands and in case there is a little “mistake”. Bring some tasty treats that are soft for your puppy so they associate these experiences as being positive and fun. Be sure to have proper identification and have fun!
Add positive reward-based obedience to the picture…Nothing gets your dog’s attention quicker and builds confidence faster than getting those basics under control and then heading outside to make sure your dog understands the commands there as well. My dogs work for EVERYTHING and so should yours. And tricks training is really just another form of behaviors put in cue so don’t let anyone tell you that doing tricks isn’t “real” training. We are looking to build attention, drive and bonding folks.
Exercise is the anti-anxiety drug of choice for humans and their dogs. But what to do if the outside world is just a bit scary? Try some agility and tricks at home in your backyard before doing your public training and walks. Taking the edge off is good for the both of you. Often owners of reactive dogs anticipate the worst and it makes them nervous which the dog will feed off of. It goes from your brain, down the leash and into their little noggins. Instead breathe deeply, relax and remember that today is a new day.
Have a plan and stick with it. Prepare ahead of time with your treat pouch. There is not time to fumble with plastic bags and you need your hands free to signal and reward your dog. Be sure to visit the clips attached from Dr. Sophia Yin, one of the foremost experts of our time on dog reactivity. You want to have some practice defensive moves in your tool kit. Circling, U-Turns and Back Up Recalls help your dog to focus on you and avoid trouble.
Practice at a farther distance and gradually counter-condition so you do not overwhelm your dog or yourself. Think about how far away you are before your dog reacts. We want to keep this in mind as we gradually counter-condition our dogs. A game I like to play is “Surprise Party” where I give my dog lots of attention and yummy treats as she works for me when the dog is present or when she sees another dog. Then when there is no dog present it is ho-um boring.
When practicing in public if you have a dog that has the potential to bite I recommend a muzzle that is a cage type so you can feed your dog and he can breathe normally. And I love the Gentle Leader as it seems reassuring to both dogs and owners that we are guiding the dog from up front which gives greater control and eye contact. Keep practicing and visit my Facebook page Canines Can Do Dog Training for more helpful tips.
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Link to great Reactive Strategy by Dr. Yin…
Training with our Canines Can Do Walking Club part of MEETUP…
It might seem cute when your puppy chews on your fingers, until you feel those sharp little teeth! Ouch! It’s time to put an end to puppy play biting. While it’s natural for your puppy to want to explore the world around him with his mouth, it’s just not acceptable in our homes.
When nipped at most people pull their hands away. Dogs see this as a game and it reinforces their urge to want to bite even more. Shouting won’t make the behavior stop. And hitting is out of the question. So what to do? You can say “Ouch” and walk away from the puppy. We don’t want to reward the biting with attention. You can also offer an acceptable chew toy in order to re-direct the behavior. Another option is to put a deterrent on your hand and clothing (dog and child safe of course) so that the puppy realizes you aren’t very tasty. Remember, everyone in your home must be consistent in order for training to be successful. It also is a good idea to teach your dog that “everything has a price” so that he knows that all his “good stuff” comes from you.