Thursday, November 18, 2010

I am second.

No, really, we are 2nd . . . on WFAA's A-List!  Please vote for us daily to get us back to #1!  It seems to work best if you click the link: then hit the big yellow vote button, then log in either via facebook or your email account info.  You can then log out, type the name of the business and repeat.  Thanks loyal fans!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Think outside the box . . .

Dog training is just about one of the most frustrating industries to be in due to the fact that one trainer could be polar opposite of another.  At least in most lines of work there are more facts that you can't refute so one may be slightly different but comes back to one basic fact.  Dog training is filled with a lot of bad advice, good advice and "who told you that?" advice.  Because dogs are animals and we can't actually talk to them and find out what they are thinking, it makes it very difficult to know what is actually right and what is actually wrong.

Many trainers use the "well it works for me" approach and others are completely science-based.  But what is science-based dog training?  That's also a revolving door of this and that.  It has been scientifically proven that the old "Alpha dogs rule" theory is wrong and using this thinking for raising and training a dog can often be disastrous.  But it was so drilled in folks heads in the 60s and 70s that it's hard to think that now the scientists say, "Oops, we were wrong, forget what we said . . ."  

Many trainers still use the techniques used many moons ago on dogs and see results, so they keep doing it.  Sure, this type of training yields what looks like instant results, but the truth is that it doesn't fix anything long term and more often that not it causes either more behavior problems than you started with or escalates the issue you started with.

I've found that over the years dog training isn't always, teach the dog this, make him stop doing that.  Often it's much more thinking than that and you have to use your noggin to think outside the box.  There is no black and white for dog training if you want a dog that is really good, really willing and really ready to be your friend.

I must admit that I was prompted to write this particular post after lying in bed at night thinking about a particular client I have been working with.  This particular dog has shown some aggression toward his owners as well as others.  After going in and meeting with the owners, the dog and getting a history I realized that this dog is only aggressive because of the way it has been handled, raised and supposedly "trained".  It's all wrong, so wrong that now the dog is becoming quite nasty.  This dog is the true example for why you can't use physical punishment or "alpha rolls" on dogs.  They don't work and often you create a real problem.  Did I mention this dog isn't even a year old yet?

I also had an epiphany when I asked my Jack Russell, Trevor to sit and stay as I opened the back door to let my Great Dane outside.  I didn't want Trevor to go out so I wanted him to stay back.  Trevor gladly sits and stays but he scoots and trembles, and he's almost nervous about it if asked to do it in certain areas.  He is great at it when I put him in a visual tool.  If I tell him to stay in his doggie bed, he'll stay like a champ.  He's funny like that.  Out in the middle of the floor--not so good, sitting in his dog bed--great!  I had to think outside the box.  What would have been most people's first reaction to their dog not staying?-- Most would correct him for not staying in the middle of the floor.  My reaction--just put him in a dog bed where I know he'll do a great sit-stay.  All I say is, "Trevor can you get in your bed?"  He goes to his bed, sits and stays there until I say, "okay!"  Problem solved, dog receives praise and avoids any "punishment".  Perfect-o! (I just took this photo literally for this paragraph--isn't he cute?!)

I also remember when I took my BC/Aussie, Noah, to a farm with goats to test his herding abilities. He loved it!  He was put in a round pen with 4 goats.  He was afraid of them at first and then suddenly they shifted and he immediately started to herd them.  While he wasn't graceful about it or great at it, he was herding them and having the best time of his life.  He barked and barked and barked at those goats.  The lady that owns the farm was out there with him and she turns to me and says, "He's too vocal," then turns to Noah and says, "Shut up!"  It drove her mad that he wouldn't stop barking at those goats.  I just laughed.  I thought she was an idiot.

Noah barks all the time in play.  He's not a vocal dog otherwise.  But play and fun he barks.  He has the best time when he's doing it too.  I never try to stop him.  I don't care if he barks when playing or expelling energy.  Have you ever been to an agility trial?  Many dogs bark as they go from one obstacle to another--they are having the time of their lives out there!  Why try to shut them up?  Who cares.  When we got in the car to head home from Noah's exhausting, yet fun, goat herding my husband says, "I guess we need to teach Noah to be a little quieter?"  I said, "Nope. She needs to learn how to let a dog be a dog in the right situations!"   That may have quite possibly been the best day of his doggie life so far,  but would he have felt that way if I had corrected him the whole time and told him to keep quiet?  I doubt it.  . . . . Noah slept for 2 full days after that night.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Let the adventure begin!

If you follow me on Facebook you've seen my "advertisement" for our new program--The Outdoor Adventures Program, which has been inspired by Kimberly Burgan Dog Training's program by the same name in Austin.  I want to elaborate on the program as we've had some questions from several doggie parents.

First, yes you are correct, we do encourage dog owners to be part of their dog's training program.  So we have had the question--well then why are you offering this program where you come to the home and train the dog while the owner is out, gone to work, busy, etc.?   The answer is this: dogs need training and mental stimulation on a daily basis.  If the owner isn't home to give it then we will be there to do that.  After years of dog training we find that many dog owners just don't know where to start or what to do.  We also see people working longer hours and utilizing doggie daycares more often--something we really don't recommend.  This program is designed to keep your dog on the right track and get their physical and mental demands met in the best way possible--through training, games, fun and physical activities!

We also want to be very clear that this isn't a fix-it-all program (no program is).  We don't just come in, fix the issues and you're good to go.  You will be part of your dog's training, we'll just be there to give your dog the boost and you will keep up what we do when we aren't there!

Other questions we've been asked--is this really for my dog?  The truth is that this program would benefit any dog or puppy.  If you can give your dog the gift of a training professional to come in, take them out, work their little legs and brain, then don't hesitate for any reason!

If you have a puppy (under 6 months) then socialization and spot-on, good training is critical!  This program can help with 1) helping your pup's potty training stay on track, 2) teaching good habits and basic commands and 3) taking your puppy to socialize him properly to places, people and other things.

If you already have a dog walker this program will be more beneficial because we will make your dog use his noggin too, not just his legs! -- This program is truly beneficial for any and all dogs!  We personalize the program to meet each dog and his owner's needs.

Have other questions or feel like starting this program?  Fill out our online questionnaire and we'll be in touch!