Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Tricks for Kids Class

Pictures from today's Tricks with Kids class.

Maddie and Milo

Max and Lego

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Happy Holidays!

I just wanted to take a moment and say thank you to all my clients!  You guys are what keeps me going.  I have been so blessed this year with great weather while we were outside and the opportunity to be inside all winter.  I love helping people develop really great relationships with their dogs.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Whew! Up and running and just in time!

Happiness for me is an indoor space that is warm and dry just in time for the cold weather.  We had a successful first two weeks in the new space, despite some pretty noisy road construction outside and while it feels pretty tight compared to the wide open fields we have been working in I am thankful that it is warm and dry!

The classes this week worked on a lot of attention exercises, including a new game called 'Run Away' that I learned from my Wag It Games instructor's course. Run away is a natural way to get your dog/puppy to pay more attention to you without constantly cueing them.  

Run Away Instructions:

This game is best played off leash in a safe, relatively quiet area, particularly if your dog/puppy is very distract-able.

Step 1  - Drop a couple of pieces of treat on the ground
Step 2 - Run away, but watch your dog
Step 3 - As soon as your dog acknowledges your existence* party and drop a few more treats AT YOUR FEET.  *This may be different for every dog. Some dogs may glance at you, some may turn their whole body toward you, some may amble toward you the important part is to click and reward the FIRST acknowledgement or attention your dog gives you.
Step 4 - Repeat!

With practice this game should be fast paced enough to get your heart racing as you work to stay ahead of your dog's attention to you.  :-)

Have FUN!

The Puppy and Adult Dog - House Training Check-Listit

House training puppies and adult dogs is a matter of helping them develop a strong preference for eliminating in the appropriate place or places.  Dogs naturally avoid eliminating in their living space.  However, they need to be taught what their living space is and where the appropriate place to eliminate is. Dogs can be trained to eliminate outside on grass or rocks, on a potty pad, or in a litter box. 
Put this check list on your refrigerator, bathroom mirror or other place where you will see it several times a day.  Read down the check list every time you pass it to be sure you are house training correctly.

* Are you maintaining realistic expectations?  It will take time, don’t expect it to be completed in just a few days.  Accidents will happen, be prepared to clean them up with a good enzymatic cleaner to eliminate odors.
* Are you being consistent in your house training?  Providing supervision, taking her to her elimination area frequently, making it difficult for accidents to happen?
* Are you providing constant supervision? Leash her to your belt or to your chair.  Watch for signs she needs to eliminate. Block off areas of the house or keep her in a small area (exercise pen, crate, mud room) when you can’t watch her.  Don’t use the confinement area as a substitute for supervision.
* Are you taking your dog to her elimination area -
* First thing in the morning
* After eating
* After play
* After naps
* Last thing at night
* Any time she looks uncomfortable – Shows signs of sniffing, circling, scratching at the floor, arching her back, and/or squatting
* Are you asking your dog “Do you want to go out?” “Let’s go potty!” or some similar phrase, in an excited voice when you take her to the elimination area?
* Are you going with your dog to be sure she eliminates in the appropriate place?
* Are you rewarding your dog with praise, petting and/or treats for eliminating in the right place?
* If your dog doesn’t eliminate when you take her to her spot, are you bringing her back in, supervising her and taking her out again in a few minutes?
* Are you avoiding rushing your dog when you take her out to eliminate? Are you avoiding bringing your dog right in after she finishes eliminating? If she isn’t allowed to do something fun after she eliminates, she may be reluctant to eliminate outside next time.
* Are you avoiding punishing your dog if she has an accident? Punishment even a few moments after an accident will not teach her not to eliminate inappropriately. Just clean up the mess and plan how to avoid accidents in the future.
* If you are having difficulty house training your dog, have you consulted your veterinarian? Some medical conditions can interfere with house training. If it is not a medical problem, have you consulted with an experienced dog trainer or behavior consultant?

Have a great week,
Dan & Suzanne
Animal Behavior Associates Inc.

This article was written and provided by the Behavior Education Network a service provided by the Animal Behavior Associate to which I belong.  The provide educational articles for use by animal behavior professionals.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Exciting News!

OK, so it's exciting for me!  I have finally found a space to call my own and will be taking clients and holding classes INDOORS starting November 1st!

I will be occupying the basement space at 20 Beherrall St in Concord MA that was formerly used by the Concord Dog Training Club.

Please see my group class schedule for information on new group classes.

Of course I will still offer in home private training for your dogs and puppies, but this also gives me the flexibility to have group classes for Graduate Puppy, Rally, Beginner Rescue as well as some new offerings like Trick Training and Wag It Games!

All of my indoor classes will be rolling admission classes which means you can join at any time provided there is space available.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Off to the APDT educational conference!

Each year I choose one educational conference to attend.  This year the Association of Professional Dog Trainers is holding their conference in Hartford, so the choice was easy.  It is also my favorite conference because it is the largest gathering of dog trainers I typically go to.  Often we will have over 600 participants, and the opportunities to learn from the presenters as well as from one another are endless!

This year I am looking forward to learning from some of the best people in the industry.  I will be attending a day long course on Dog Behavior in the Field by Sue Sternberg.  You can read about her by clicking here if you are interested in knowing more.

I be participating in a hands on workshop on Advanced Behavior Techniques and Practices put on by the IAABC, another professional dog training organization.

In addition I will also be doing  a hands on Trick Training for Behavior Problems program, so be ready for me to start pushing trick training - not that I don't already do that!  :-)

And those are only the special sessions I've signed up for!  I will also have the opportunity to see Patricia McConnell, Ian Dunbar, Emma Parsons, Christopher Pachel, Gail Fisher, Rise Van Fleet and Sumac Grant Johnson to speak.

As always I continue to be fascinated by the learning process of dogs and strive to bring you my best understanding of the latest learning and techniques.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Dr. Sophia Yin

For many of us in the profession of dog training, this week is especially sad.  Dr. Sophia Yin passed away, she was a leader in the world of dog behavior, non-stress veterinary handling and non-force training.  I met her only once but have relished everything she wrote and know that her presence will be greatly missed.

My heart is heavy with her loss.

Here is one short look at some of the work she did.

Sophia Yin on Dominance Theory

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Importance of Play with your dog

Things Owners Should Know 

We’ve talked about play in previous webinars and articles, including how to distinguish social play between individuals from true conflict, what characterizes healthy play, and how play opportunities can be used as a technique to work with aggression and fear related problems.
In our experience, many dog owners have questions as well as misconceptions about play.  Many of these will be the subject of this Biscuit series. 

In this first Biscuit we’ll talk about what play is, different types of play and why behaviorists believe play to be important.

In our dictionary of animal behavior terms, we found numerous definitions for play.  Two we thought were most relevant for our purposes are:

1. “A set of pleasurable activities, frequently but not always social in nature, that imitate the serious activities of life without consuming serious goals” (E.O. Wilson 1975) and 2. “Any behavior that involves probing, manipulation, experimentation, learning, and the control of one’s own body as well as the behavior of others, and that also essentially serves the function of developing and perfecting future adaptive responses to the physical and social environment” (K. Lorenz 1950).

So play is fun, it doesn’t satisfy an immediate goal, and it’s made up of a jumble of movements and postures from different kinds of behavior, such as stalking prey, courtship and fighting.

Behaviorist Robert Fagan, who spent most of his career studying play holds there are three forms of basic play: creative improvisation, play-fighting (social play), and object manipulation (object play).
Some research suggests that social play can help to strengthen social bonds between people and dogs. We can’t be sure, but suspect that social play may also teach the dog how to communicate more effectively with people and other animals. Various kinds of play may help develop strength, agility and physical skills in dogs.

The AKC just released results of a survey about activities people enjoy doing with their dogs.  Forty-one percent say they play outside, 32 % take their dogs for daily walks, 7% engage in some type of competitive dog sport, 14% engage in indoor exercise, and 5% take their dogs to dog parks.

So people engage in a wide variety of activities with their dogs, with outside social play and walks topping the list.

This brings up the question of what activities constitute play.  Is taking a dog for a walk play?  When a dog participates in certain dog sports such as agility and flyball, is he playing or working? What about manipulating objects (that we call toys) to get access to food?  Is this play or foraging/food getting behavior?  Each of these could be play if the dog seems to be having fun.

Can a dog’s behavioral needs for play be met by taking him on lots of walks but never playing with toys?  Owners have told us their dogs have a HUGE back yard to run around in so they don’t really need to go for walks.  Or that there are all kinds of toys lying in the house and around the yard, but their dogs never play with them so therefore they don’t like to play.  It’s important for owners to learn what kinds of play their dog seems to like and to adapt the play to the dog’s needs.
So what do we tell clients about play?
•            It’s hard to define but we can usually recognize it when we see it.
It seems to not have an immediate function,  it’s fun and it’s made up of a mixture of different kinds of behavior.
•            Sick and stressed animals seldom play, so if your dog stops playing,
look for possible medical or behavioral problems.
•            There are different kinds of play – play with objects like toys, play
with others (social play) and creative improvisation, usually a form of solitary play like running laps around the backyard.
•            Dogs differ in their interest in play. Some like all kinds of play,
some only like  a few or one kind (like tug or fetch games) and some don’t really seem to like formal play.
•            It’s normal for play to decline with age, with older dogs playing
less than younger dogs. 
•            We don’t know if dogs need to play to be behaviorally healthy, but
they do need exercise, mental stimulation and pleasant social contact.
Different kinds of play can often satisfy these needs.

Have a great rest of your week!

Reprinted with permission of BEN networks.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

House Training - a quick primer


While housetraining a dog is a relatively simple concept, it can be quite challenging. The key to successfully house-training your pup is consistency, setting your dog up for success, and following a basic rule, if a behavior is rewarded it will repeat.  

Begin with the pup in one smallish, puppy proofed room.  The room should be central to the activity in the house and contain the dogs crate as well as easy access to the outdoors.  Baby gates and lattice (for larger openings) work well to contain puppies while allowing people in and out.  Exercise pens work for mini puppies as well as large open floor plan houses.

Three Rules
1.     The dog is outside while you are actively watching him and reinforcing any pees or poops.

2.     The dog is inside under CONSTANT supervision.
3.     The dog is crated or gated off in a small, puppy proof area.

Four Steps
1.      Create a schedule
2.      Prevent accidents
3.      Positive praise for correct action i.e. every time your dog goes to the bathroom outside, click and reward.  
4.      Progress slowly

Create Schedule

Create a schedule that includes the times for feeding, water, crate and playtime. Knowing when the food and water goes into your puppy will result in predictable needs and therefore reduced accidents.  Remember, if the puppy has an accident it is not because they are bad, it is because you were not paying attention!  Most puppies can be put on a schedule that allows them bathroom breaks every 1-2 hours to start if they are using a crate.  A puppy that is out and active may need potty breaks as frequent as every ½ hour.  A general rule of thumb is that a dog can comfortable ‘hold it’ during the day for 1 plus the number of months old they are, so a 2 month old dog should be able to go 3 hours between breaks when crated.  The exception to this is at night, even an 8-9 week old puppy can generally make it through 8 hours at night without a break.  Smaller dogs may need more frequent breaks.

The schedule you put together will depend on your needs as well as your dogs, but you should consider the following things.  A young puppy should not be left in the crate more than a couple of hours at a time, followed by a couple of hours of well supervised play time.  As with young children, puppies do need lots of sleep, schedule those naps to occur while the dog is in the crate.  Early evening is a time of much activity in most households with dinner prep, homework, and other activities, consider scheduling your pup for crate time during this evening rush time to avoid accidents.

Prevent accidents
            Unless you are 100% with your dog he/she should be confined in a “den like” area or his crate. Anticipate your dog’s needs and take frequent breaks until your dog develops a routine.  When accidents do happen, put the dog away and clean it up with enzymatic cleaner.  No punishment, no hoopla.

Positive Praise
            Have a pocket full of GREAT treats ready at all times and be ready to deliver – right AFTER the deed is done!  Timing matters.  If you start to praise the dog as he begins to eliminate the pup may not finish his business, so hold your praise until he’s all done!

Progress Slowly
            Once the dog is reliable in one room, expand his indoor area one room at a time.  Go SLOWLY.  Be sure to be present in the new room 100% of the time during its introduction, use the same rules in each new room as you did at the beginning of the process.

Other Hints
            If you have an older dog, make sure there aren’t any underlying medical issues such as urinary tract infections which can be a cause of housetraining regression.  Schedules help, keeping feedings and playtime on a tight schedule will help to reduce accidents and create more positive opportunities.

            Reading your dog’s signals
·       whining
·       circling
·       sniffing
·       just woke up
·       just got out of crate
·       just ate/drank
·       suddenly stops playing/chewing and starts sniffing
·       heads toward an area that has been soiled before with nose to the ground
·       paces near the door

Keep the dog on the leash when you take them out to eliminate, this helps to direct them to the correct spot and will prevent having a dog that will not eliminate while on leash.  Many people like to train their dogs to eliminate in a particular area of the yard, to do this be sure that all bathroom breaks are supervised on leash, lead (or carry in the case of a very young pup) the dog directly to the designated area and as soon as the elimination has occurred praise and reinforce with yummy treats!

Tip: Make sure your puppy eliminates before you play with them, this will help instill a sense of urgency about getting their business done and avoid issues in the future.

One alternative to creating a schedule is to tether the young pup to you as you go about your business in the house. This keeps the pup from wandering off and doing his business without you seeing him and keeps you very aware of your pups every move.  I love this technique, but it is not for everyone.
A word about paper-training: It seems harmless to leave papers about “just in case” however, paper-training your pup will make the overall job of housetraining harder and take longer. By only allowing the pup to relieve itself outside, you're teaching it that it's not acceptable to eliminate in the house. Using newspapers will contradict this training and cause confusion for the dog.

Using a crate can make house training a lot easier, it also creates a place where your dog can go and get some alone time.

Use the crate when you are too busy to watch the pup, you are leaving the house, your puppy get’s the “crazies” and needs some time to wind down, when you need a break or when you are sleeping.  Also, if the dog has just been outside and has not relieved himself, put him in the crate and try again in 15 minutes.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Great little book!

Ok, so I don't often see a dog training book that I recommend.  Too many either go into way too much technical detail or not enough, but I just read "12 Terrible Dog Training Mistakes ..." by Suzanne Hetts and it's the one book I would like every dog owner and potential dog owner to read!  It's $6.99 on kindle and well worth the 90  minutes it will take to read it.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Update on the proposed dog by law.

There is a Board of Selectmen Public Hearing on Monday, March 3 at 7 pm in the Town House Hearing Room where the new Dog Bylaw Article is on the agenda.  There are ~13 Articles on the agenda and the Dog Bylaw is last.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

New Concord Dog By Law Meeting

There was a good showing at last night’s meeting, mostly dog owners but also some that were not dog and were advocating banning dogs from Emerson Field.  I believe it was good to hear from people who had been adversely affected by dogs to maintain a balanced perspective.   

The feedback centered mostly on the all-out ban in the cemeteries, the 3+ dogs must always be on leash and the current lack of enforcement with the laws that are already on the books.  Many good suggestions were offered on how to rework the wording of the proposal so that those two sections would be less onerous, as well as suggestions on how to put together a citizen task force that might also be able to help with enforcement.

Unfortunately, the proposal for the new bylaw is already in the warrant at the printer and will be presented at town meeting this spring as is, which means we will need to affect changes at that town meeting prior to the proposal being put on the ballot for town wide.  This means we will need to rally interested parties to stay involved and show up at the town meeting.

If we can affect a change to the proposal at town meeting to soften the cemetery ban and increase # of dogs to “more than 3” rather than 3 or more. I will be happy to support the new bylaw.  Primarily because I do think the litter law is a good thing and they have changed the wording in the bylaw to make dog visits to the schools and municipal buildings allowable with permission. 

Feel free to comment here, let me know what you think and/or how you would like to get involved!  :-)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Proposed new By-Laws in Concord

The proposed changes are as follows.

There will be a meeting on Tuesday, January 28th at 7:30 at the Hunt Gym to discuss these proposed changes.

Please pay attention to all of the items in red, as those represent the biggest changes:

REVISED DOG BYLAW  (revised 12/12/13)
Article ____: To determine whether the Town will vote to delete the existing Concord Dog Bylaw in its entirety, and replace it with the following:
Section 1. Licensing
The owner of a dog that is six months of age or older shall cause it to be licensed annually, in accordance with M.G.L. Ch. 140, §137 and §138. The license year is January 1 through December 31. Dogs over six months of age should be licensed within 30 days of moving to Concord. A late fee will be applied if a dog six months of age or older is not licensed by March 31. No fee shall be charged for a license issued under this section for a service animal as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act or regulations promulgated thereunder. Proof of valid rabies vaccination is required for licensing. The owner of a licensed dog shall keep affixed around the dog’s neck or body, a collar or harness to which the license tag shall be securely attached. If the tag becomes lost, the owner shall immediately secure a substitute tag from the licensing authority.

Section 2. Vaccination Requirement
Whoever is the owner of a dog six months of age or older shall cause such dog to be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian, in accordance with the provisions of M.G.L. Ch. 140, §145B. An exemption from this requirement may be granted for any dog which has not yet attained the age of six months, or any dog declared exempt upon presentation of a veterinarian’s certificate stating that because of an infirmity, other physical condition or regimen of therapy, that inoculation is thereby deemed inadvisable.

Section 3. Control of Dogs
No owner of a dog shall permit such dog:
1. to be outside the confines of the property of the owner unless the dog is held firmly on a leash or under effective and direct voice control of its owner or keeper; persons walking three or more dogs on public ways, sidewalks, trails or other Town-owned property shall have all their dogs leashed at all times;
2. to disturb the peace or quiet of any neighborhood or endanger the safety of any person by biting, barking excessively, howling, chasing, or in any other manner;
3. to run at large on Town-owned land, out of the owner’s or keeper’s direct control by voice or lead at any time;
4. to be unleashed while walking or running on a public sidewalk or at a public gathering, including organized athletic events;
5. to chase a vehicle on any way open to the public travel;
6. to dig holes or otherwise cause damage to any Town-owned land or property, or to interfere with mowing or field maintenance activities;
to worry, kill, maim or otherwise injure another’s fowl, livestock or domesticated animal;
7. to harass, kill, maim, or otherwise injure wildlife;
8. to be in a school or municipal building;
9. to be within the boundaries of Town cemetery property, with the exception of a dog in attendance at an owner’s funeral service and held firmly on a leash;
10. to be within any public children’s playground;
Dogs shall be held firmly on a leash while at Emerson Field on Mondays through Fridays, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, from late June through late August due to summer camp activities.
The provisions of Section 3, subsections i through k shall not apply to dogs properly trained as service animals to assist persons with disabilities.

4. Dog Litter
Every dog owner or keeper is responsible for expeditiously removing any dog feces the dog deposits anywhere except on its owner’s private property, or on other private property with the property owner’s permission. Any owner or keeper walking a dog off the owner’s property is required to have the means for removing any dog feces left by such dog and must properly dispose of such waste. This provision does not apply to any assistance dog while it is performing its duties, if the owner of the assistance dog is unable to remove the dog litter. Depositing dog litter in a public catch basin, storm drain, or on public land is specifically prohibited.

Section 5. Confinement of Dogs
The Animal Control Officer may impound any dog found to be in violation of any section of this bylaw, and on doing so shall immediately notify the owner of such impoundment, if ascertainable from some device on the dog. The owner may redeem the dog upon reimbursing the Animal Control Officer for maintenance, and on licensing the dog if it is unlicensed. Any dog so impounded and unredeemed after seven days may be disposed of as provided in M.G.L. Chapter 140, §151A.

Section 6. Non-Criminal Disposition of Violations
The owner of a dog who violates any section of this bylaw shall be subject to a fine for each offense as specified in Appendix A of the Regulations for the Enforcement of Town Bylaws under M.G.L. Chapter 40, §21D and the Bylaw for Non-Criminal Disposition of Violations adopted under Article 47 of the 1984 Town Meeting, as amended. The Enforcement Agency may issue a separate and additional fine each day for a continuing or recurring violation.

Section 7. Definition of Owner
As used herein, the word “owner” includes the owner of the dog or a person who has the care and custody of the dog (even temporarily). The latter includes a commercial dog walker or other person engaged in the business of exercising or handling dogs owned by another, using public land, and who receives compensation for this work.
(end of Dog Bylaw)
and to determine whether the Town will vote to amend Appendix A of the Regulations for the Enforcement of Town Bylaws and the Bylaw for Non-Criminal Disposition of Violations by changing the “Enforcement Agency” for the Dog Bylaw to read as follows: Animal Control Officer, Police Officers or other Designees of the Town Manager or take any other action relative thereto.