Let’s Get Social…

Part of the fun of having a dog is getting out and having fun!

Part of the fun of having a dog is getting out and having fun!

In the next few articles we will provide tips on how to get your dog to be your best outdoor buddy. Often after a long winter dogs have trouble making the adjustment from couch potato to social butterfly. And leash walking can be a real pain for the owner’s shoulders with pulling, lunging and sometimes even downright frightening reactivity to sights and sounds. What is an owner to do? We will discuss equipment, training suggestions and ways to get your dog to be a pleasure to be around in public.

Today’s topic is walking and the types of collars and harnesses we recommend and use. Our go-to item for teaching nice walking is the Easy Walk harness and the Gentle Leader. These both require the proper fit so when sizing it helps to have your dog present. There is also a video on fit and use by the manufacturer on the Internet. The reason we like this equipment is that it makes it easier for the owner to communicate to their dogs by this gentle pressure method which will not harm the dog’s trachea. Besides these two owners of rescues and greyhounds have found the Martingale to be helpful as it prevents dogs from pulling their heads out of the collar and running free. Some chain models often serve as a warning that the collar is closing, but these are not meant to choke the dog. Other collars including the slip or choke and prong are not recommended by this trainer for pet owners as they should only be used with expert guidance and supervision because of their potential for harm.

Equally as important is working on getting your dog’s attention and teaching them to walk properly. We will discuss this in our next article. Don’t forget-JB Pet in Hawthorne, NJ, The Madison Dog Resort in Waldwick, NJ and Canines Can Do will help you and your dog get off to the right start with proper equipment and lessons. FMI visit http://www.caninescando.com for more information.

How to find the perfect dog trainer

It seems almost anyone can become a dog trainer…Being a dog trainer is a “hot” profession right now. Celebrity trainers have made the profession sexy and appealing, and  there is no required schooling, although there are plenty of correspondence schools of questionable integrity.  Licensing is unheard of, and this service business is also not taxable unless involving the sale of material goods.

In a flailing economy where jobs are scarce and pet ownership on the rise, it makes sense that dog training would be a natural draw for the jobless and those seeking a career change. A love of dogs is not necessarily the primary motivator.

Dog owners need to remember that despite claims, there are no quick fixes to training. Training takes time, consistency and patience. The major question all owners should ask themselves is “What will this trainer do to my dog to get the desired behavior?”

Owners should familiarize themselves with positive and humane training and understand what it is and is not.  This method of training relies on the principles of earning all rewards which may consist of food, praise, play or freedom to enjoy an activity or item.

Positive reinforcement training is preferred by veterinarians and scientifically proven.  It developed in the 1950’s and has been used successfully to train many species of mammals, starting with marine life and more recently with dogs.  The dog works for all rewards including praise, play and treats, as owners learn to communicate and establish a relationship with their dogs based on trust, respect and patience.

The newest buzzword is “balanced” training which basically means even though a trainer may use positive methods sometimes, they may also use heavy-handed approaches as well.

Beware “balanced” trainers that often advocate showing the dog who is boss through positive punishment and lots of correction.  These trainers promise fast results but often leave behind timid, submissive nervous dogs that are often more prone to aggression or in “shut down” robot mode.  The dog may be corrected or punished for a behavior it has not been taught, or did not understand.  Instead of focusing on training the dog for the behavior, and training the human to give the correct cue, the dog is punished for attempting the behavior even if it doesn’t understand.

What do corrections do?  For people it gives them the thrill of having power. They jerk the neck and the behavior stops. But what is it doing to the poor dog?  In a few months owners may wonder why their dog seems so sad and listless. 

How can you be sure that your trainer is perfect for you and your dog?  If you are comparing local trainers ask to see their group classes. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about how they feel about the methods of training described here.   Does the trainer have you perform the activity with your dog so that you can practice on your own? Is everyone in your family involved with the training?

In general, if a trainer claims to have experience in an area, I like to see that they have either earned a title or have competed. For instance, if they are teaching obedience how advanced are their own dogs?  What activities do they do for fun?  Do they participate as volunteers on therapy visits or merely teach therapy classes in order to make money? I will only train others in areas that I myself have excelled and have experience in. For fun I do tracking, sheep herding, skijoring, paddle boarding, kayaking and hiking with my dogs. And they go everywhere with me in public. They have ridden subways and elevators and have dined out with me on many an occasion.

What kind of fun do you imagine having with your dog?  Why shouldn’t your times together including training, be stress-free and fun? And why can’t old dogs learn new tricks.  We learn every day don’t we?  For me, training take place every moment I am with my dog.  Their lives are short, and their innocent, kind natures beg for patient and intelligent training based on humane scientific methods.

Dog Trainer’s Secret to Weight Loss, Staying Young and Feeling Great!

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Feeling sluggish from too much holiday excess? Clothes a little pinchy? Feeling ho- hum and a bit pale? Try these five secret tips we dog trainers use for looking and feeling great! After all you never know when someone will need a new show on Animal Planet!  It all starts simply with taking a walk!

1. When you WALK your dog use your five senses to really take in your environment. Turn off that cell phone and give yourself at least 30 minutes of bliss listening to the birds, taking in those luscious aromas coming from the bakery that is driving your dog mad, watch for cute doggies to say hello to and guess their names before you meet them. By engaging your mind in this way you will relax and reduce those worry lines. And by walking on a regular basis you will shed yucky pounds and feel great. Check with your doctor and vet before starting your regimen and you are off! Make n appointment with yourself to walk so that no one steals valuable “me” time. You are not selfish. You are taking care of your health. No guilt here please.

2. Before venturing out use a good MOISTURIZER with sunscreen. many dog trainers have found the Jergen’s brand of self-tanning daily moisturizer imparts just a hint of healthy non-flakey color. Others swear by Clinique and my personal choice is Luminesce with vitamin C from CVS plus sunscreen. Whatever you choose remember to protect the kin you are in.

3. Learn to SMILE even when you are feeling pfffffft. Yes what your mom said is lines using the muscles for smiling can trick you into feeling better. Practice in front of a mirror if you need help deciding between natural not creepy. Smiling makes you attractive and feel confident. A nice combo to add to the increase in endorphins while walking.

4. Practice GRATITUDE and give thanks for your dog. He or she has loved you through thick and thin, the ups and downs and all the way around. Look at your walk as an opportunity to connect with your adorable living creature, fur child, who is utterly and shamelessly in love with you even if you feel fat and blue. Say thank you with some uninterrupted bliss together. And then say “thank you” for your life, your health and the ability to get outside and enjoy life. Think about paying it forward by helping someone.You will feel calmer, happier and more connect5. Expect great things and dare to DREAM. Some say that you age and are old when you forget to dream. Don’t let anyone destroy your ability

to imagine great things for you and your dog. Yes there are realistic goals. But we are talking about big stuff here. You can get all practical and lay the foundation at home. We are talking the big Hollywood picture here starring you and your dog. Think about travel plans for the two of you, fabulous fun like planning a party or dressing up and dining at a local bistro.

Wishing you big, juicy, healthy, fat-free and mind blowing fun with your clever canine.

Dorice Stancher, CPDT-KA

http://www.caninescando.com