Andre Yeu is a professional dog trainer from Toronto, Canada, and the owner and head trainer at When Hounds Fly Dog Training.
He is a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner (KPA CTP) and also has his Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) designation.
Changes to our Booking Policy Effective Monday, June 8, 9:00AM
We’re just five days into our post-lockdown re-opening journey, and we thank everyone for their patience regarding getting into our classes.
We’re navigating uncharted waters and learning as we go. And, we realize that while in principle the 3-hour booking window made sense – to keep people from feeling conflicted about coming to class even though they might be symptomatic or Covid-19 positive, and to allow us to short-notice cancel classes if one of us became symptomatic or positive, we realize now that it makes it very difficult for our students to plan their programs, and it actually makes it very difficult for us to forecast demand for classes and modules.
So, learning from this, we’re making the following changes to our Booking Policy. This change will come into effect on Monday, June 8, at 9:00AM, to give everyone, including us, time to get ready.
A “skeleton” class calendar will be published four weeks in advance at a time for all our locations and our Virtual Classes.
The booking window will be extended to 14 full days before the start of a class, allowing people to plan two weeks at a time.
As slots become full, we will backfill additional spots to meet the needs of our students, or possibly remove unfilled spots that are not in demand. So, check periodically as additional spots are added, or as people withdraw and change their bookings.
The cancellation window will be set at 24 hours. Cancellations must be performed via self-service by students using their own logins; we will not accept emails requesting us to cancel on your behalf.
If you are unable to attend class due to any reason, and it is greater than 24 hours before the commencement of your class, please remove yourself via self-service to free up spots for other students.
With less than 24 hours notice, you cannot withdraw or reschedule or get your credit back, with one exception: You become Covid-19 symptomatic, or it is discovered you have been exposed to Covid-19, we will return a class credit at no penalty if the following three conditions are met:
You notify us via email prior to the start of the class you were to attend (not after) that you are at risk of transmitting Covid-19
You supply documentation of test results at a Covid-19 testing centre
You use self-service and remove yourself from any other classes that you may have booked that fall within the recommended 14 day self-isolation period
We hope that these changes in policy to our booking and cancellation window help everyone get into their classes, make it easier for us to anticipate demand (and schedule accordingly), and also still keep our classroom environment safe during this pandemic.
Thank you everyone for your support during this difficult time. For the last two months we have primarily been interacting with you via Virtual classes on Zoom, although in the last week and a bit we’ve had fun running Puppy Parties and seeing you all briefly during dropoff and pickup.
Our team met shortly after the province released guidance that during Phase One, our service is allowed to resume. Some of us live in multi-generational households with elderly, vulnerable persons. Some of us have partners with pre-existing medical conditions also putting them at risk. We have to balance our wish to reconnect in-person and meet the community’s needs with safety – not just of us, our loved ones, but also our community at large.
Starting Saturday, May 30th, we will slowly be resuming in-person classes. They will feel familiar, but they will also be different. We are also forced to mandate very specific requirements of our students to protect both you and us.
Please be patient if we are at capacity and you are unable to get in right away. We are testing demand and operational procedures, and navigating uncharted territory.
Rule One: Symptomatic or Vulnerable? Stay Home
Our instructors all have digital thermometers and will be self assessing for symptoms. If we’re symptomatic, we’re staying home. Do the same for us. Also, please, if you are a vulnerable person, please stay at home! Virtual classes are still going to run and you can still do Dropoffs for Puppy Parties. We care about your well-being.
Rule Two: Dog OK for Group Class?
Virtual classes allowed fearful, anxious, or even aggressive dogs to learn key foundation skills. In-Person group classes are not the right place for them and are not permitted – we reserve the right to make the decision to remove them from class. Home school them and they’ll be happier too.
Rule Three: Two Humans Per Dog / Same Household
Effective June 11, 2020, for each class, up to two humans per dog are permitted, from the same household(bubble) may attend. At least one must be an adult, and at least one must have attended Orientation (but ideally, both). The second human may be a child, however, please be considerate and mindful of our disruptive student policy. And, regardless of age, the facemask rule still applies.
Please wait curbside and at the start of your scheduled class, your instructor will come outside and cue everyone to enter one at a time. Shortly after the commencement of class, we will be locking our doors to prevent walk-ins and others that may enter the building and cause congestion in the entrance or waiting area. Please be on time as if you are late and the door is locked, you will not be permitted in your class, nor will you be given a makeup credit.
Rule Six: Wear Facemasks At All Times
Although our classrooms are relatively large, from time to time, physical distancing will be breached. We are also staying indoors in a confined space (although we will maximize ventilation from outdoors as much as possible) for a duration of close to an hour, while talking. To mitigate the risks of droplets projecting while speaking in an enclosed space, where physical distance recommendations may be breached from time to time, we are mandating the wearing of a facemask (medical or non-medical is fine) at all times by all participants. Without a facemask, you will not be permitted in your class, nor will you be given a makeup credit.
Rule Seven: Sit and Stay (Physical Distancing)
Students will be given a station to work in and we ask that unless otherwise instructed, please remain in your station and refrain from visiting other students, or coming up directly to the instructor.
Rule Eight: Use Positive Reinforcement
Rude or inconsiderate behaviour affects the classroom experience for other students and the instructor, and won’t be tolerated!
We believe that the best way to teach and reinforce desired behaviour is through positive reinforcement – for people, that’s about expressing your needs clearly, and also being considerate, gracious, and patient.
As we got ready to celebrate our 10th year in operations, our team got together to reflect on what we do, how we do it, and what’s important to us. We collaboratively defined a list of core values that we’d like to share for all to see, and hold us accountable to:
In our conduct, we strive to uphold the following values:
ABOVE ALL, POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT
We believe Positive Reinforcement is the most effective way to change behaviour, therefore, it is core to our dog training curriculum, but also how we seek to change behaviour in our clients, ourselves, and each other.
ALWAYS LEVELLING UP
We endeavour to make every aspect of our company better tomorrow than it was today. That extends to our curriculum, our knowledge, our skills, our operations, and our facilities.
ELEVATE THE PROFESSION
We regard ourselves as professionals that conduct ourselves with honesty, integrity, and autonomy. We aim to raise the bar by which the community at-large regards the dog training profession.
ALL FOR ONE, ONE FOR ALL
We believe that we are stronger and better together as a team, than individuals. We endeavour to strengthen our bonds as a team.
Our work should be enjoyable and we should always try to have fun in our work both in the classroom, with our clients 1-on-1, and working (and playing!) with each other.
HEALTH AND WELLNESS
To meet our promises to our clients and each other, we invest in lifestyle choices that promote health and wellness.
We welcome all people to be their authentic selves both in our classroom and on our team. This includes, but is not limited to, welcoming people of all age, creed, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, ability, race, or place of origin.
IF YOU CAN CLICKER TRAIN IT, DON’T EAT IT
We believe that humane training is just as important as a healthy diet, physical exercise, a loving home, and veterinary care. Our commitment to animal welfare extends to the treatment of other species, which is why many of our staff and volunteers are vegetarian or vegan.
In our field, there is consensus amongst those that study the science, that aversive training methods are harmful, and that we should all endeavor to use as much positive reinforcement as possible when teaching our animals.
It is a myth that there is “a divide” amongst experts when it comes to training our dogs. Because if you look at what the science says, look at what the research says, and what the evidence says, there is no debate.
Your Facts are Just Your Opinion
“I don’t believe in climate change, it’s just a theory!”
“I don’t believe in evolution, it’s just a belief!”
“I don’t believe in using positive reinforcement, its just one of many ways to train a dog!”
What needs to be made clear, and in firm language, is that there are hard facts that dictate our bias towards using positive reinforcement. If you understand these facts, then the path is clear.
Positive Reinforcement-based training achieves better results and also does not cause elevated stress or anxiety. So, if you’re choosing how to teach your dog to sit, stay, and walk nice on a leash, why wouldn’t you choose the method that is both effective but also brings joy to your dog and doesn’t make them depressed?
Fact 2: When using confrontational or aversive methods to train aggressive pets, veterinary researchers have found that most of these pets will continue to be aggressive (Herron, Frances S. Shofer and Ilana R. Reisner)
Dogs that are aggressive towards people or other animals are usually acting out of fear, so the science suggests we should use systematic desensitization, counter-conditioning, and the differential reinforcement of incompatible behaviours. We teach dogs how to feel at ease in situations, without the threats of a prong collar or shock collar.
The science supports our practice as well – We setup educational environments to avoid triggering the fight-or-flight response. Learners (dogs included, of course) learn best when their parasympathetic nervous system is active (the rest and digest response) – this cannot be possible under the threat of a leash correction or shock.
The claim that “red zone” or “aggressive” dogs cannot be helped unless you use harsh training techniques is perhaps the most harmful of all of the incorrect information out there today.
One of the benefits of working with people who take an interest in science is they usually understand how to construct logical arguments. On the flipside, those who operate “intuitively” usually are very difficult to talk to because they lack the ability to construct a cohesive argument.
Usually, what you are presented with is a lot of logical fallacies and some pseudo-science:
“OMG you would rather have the dog die than give a single harsh correction?” (No, those aren’t the only options usually, thank you Mr. False Dilemma)
“I’ve saved X-number of dogs using e-collars, they are lifesaving” (Thank you, Ms. Anecdotal Evidence, I was also spanked as a child, I turned out OK…)
Credibility Should Be More Than Number of Instagram Followers
At When Hounds Fly, we don’t rely on tradition, intuition, one’s personal experience alone, or other unproven methods. Our approach relies on scientific evidence for guidance and decision making. With the proliferation of knowledge that is available, one can’t be expected to know everything about everything, therefore, we learn from people who:
Have Ph.Ds in relevant fields (Psychology, Neuroscience, Biology, Veterinary Medicine)
Have written published papers or books on the subject
Have received training, supervision, or endorsement from others with a similar background
Have credentials that are difficult to obtain and demonstrate a high level of knowledge (i.e. a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist, requires one to have a doctoral degree, usually veterinary medicine, plus five years of experience working in applied animal behavior)
The problem with the world we live in today is that the largest distributors of information – Google (and YouTube), Facebook (and Instagram), and Twitter, are for-profit organizations that generate revenue by keeping users addicted to their platforms.
On Instagram, a dog rescue group with 10,000 followers has more clout than a Veterinary Behaviorist with only 1000 followers, and when the rescue’s social media manager, who relies on intuition and anecdotal evidence only, suggests that “Balanced Training, using all training tools equally, is the best way”, that makes it seem like there’s a debate, when in fact there should be none. But, in the eyes of Facebook and Instagram’s algorithm… it’s fit for publishing and promoting on your feed, and there’s no mechanism for verifying whether it’s the truth.
My wish for 2020 is that proponents of aversive training methods be relegated to the same category as anti-vaxxers, climate-change deniers, flat-earthers, or Holocaust deniers. Just look at the science, and it’s clear that their messages do not belong on the same footing as practices like ours which are evidence-based.
Do your own research, look into the credibility of the presenter, and where the evidence comes from – and do not assume that what appears on your social media feed is truth, because some of it is probably harmful or just plain incorrect.
We own a total of three Ecovacs Deebot N79 / N79S robot vacuum cleaners and we use them daily at When Hounds Fly.
As a dog training school, upwards of 30 different dogs may come per day for classes. It’s a LOT of fur and dander and lint and sand and dust!
Despite this, our N79s were giving us great service for many months until suddenly they all started giving the “Red Auto Light / Four Beep” error.
They would run for about 2 minutes and suddenly stop dead in its tracks and give off the error.
Initially our research showed it was a battery issue. So, we spend weeks playing with charging dock positions, cleaning the charge contacts, etc. and nothing seemed to stick.
After a while I had a guess that it was due to hair/fur accumulation in the beater brush and after giving it a thorough cleaning, I was really happy to see the robots perform again good as new.
All it takes is removal of four tiny phillips screws (Update on 6/20/2019 – You don’t actually have to unscrew the clean that piece, it’s not critical), and a flathead screw driver to help with removing the front wheel. I shot a video of me cleaning one of our Deebot N79 vacuums for you to see.
Hope this helps and keeps your Deebot working for many years to come and out of the landfill!
*Update on 6/20/2019* – One of our three Deebots actually stopped working, even after thorough cleaning. I logged a ticket with Ecovacs support and after going through some basic troubleshooting, they authorized me to send it back for a warranty replacement. But, before going through that hassle, honestly, just try thoroughly cleaning your Deebot and you may be surprised!*
In our Puppy Socialization classes, one of the lessons we try to teach new puppy owners is how to recognize the signs of appropriate and healthy play between dogs.
On one hand, we have some owners that are “helicopter parents” and at the onset of anything more physical than polite sniffing, they feel like their dogs are in mortal danger.
On the otherhand, we have some owners who believe their dog who is bullying or over-aroused is just playing with good intentions, and we are being too uptight. “Let dogs be dogs, let them work it out”, they’d say.
As instructors, our job is to either help those who are worried feel safe that their dog is having a good time – yes that includes facial and ear nips and tumbling and wrestling.
Our job is also to identify when a dog is getting overaroused, or is *not* picking up on the cutoff (please stop!) signals of other dogs and to interrupt or time-out.
To help our students (and anyone, anywhere!) we commissioned Hyedie Hashimoto to create an infographic. Please download a copy and print it off for your dog training facility, dog daycare, dog park – wherever it might be useful!
A couple of weeks ago I received an email from Gary and Bill, past students of ours…
Back at the end of February 2017, you may recall, you came over to our house to help us with Sandy, whom we rescued in November. He was a terrified little guy – frightened of everything and everyone.
Sadly we lost our Sandy on Tuesday November 21st from his congestive heart failure. We are heart-broken … but Sandy left this world a very confident dog; his fears, for the most part, a thing of the past. No more barking at cars, noises, other dogs or people. In large part we have you to thank for this- for teaching us how best to help him.
As we now reflect on the final year of his life he spent with us, we wanted you to know how much we appreciated all your help and guidance with Sandy. And we know, Sandy thanks you too.
Gary, Bill & Joey
Gary and Bill adopted Sandy just a year ago at the ripe old age of 9 years. In the year they cared for him, they not only gave him a loving home but also the gift of confidence. He used to bark and lunge at any dog or person on the street. But thanks to their hard work and commitment to desensitization and counter-conditioning, by this past summer, Sandy was able to take classes with us and meet people and dogs at the school and in their neighbourhood.
Please consider not only adopting and rescuing your next dog, but also consider taking a second look at the older ones too. Of all the dogs in need of homes, they need our compassion the most. They often gave their unconditional love to their owners only to find themselves abandoned in their final years. So, like Gary and Bill, let’s help and make a senior dog’s final years the best ones.
I started When Hounds Fly Dog Training in January 2010 as an experiment to see whether dog training services – specifically, centered around Clicker Training, could become a full-time career for me.
At the time, most of the dog training schools operating in Toronto were part-time businesses, where the instructors drew their primary income from either white-collar day jobs, or made the majority of their income through other dog-related services (such as dog walking).
Fast forward to 2017 and When Hounds Fly now has four employees (if you include myself), three of whom work full time, doing dog training and behaviour consulting. So, the experiment paid off!
Our Past Instructors
One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced in growing this company is finding qualified people that met my high standards for instructors. In the early days, I was extremely lucky and qualified people found me. My early part-time instructors came already knowledgeable, already experienced, no training or skills development required.
By 2014, I realized that the odds of just finding qualified people who would apply for either part or full-time positions as instructors were extremely low. So, I turned my attention towards helping mentor and coach people who were passionate about our mission, so that in the end, they could hopefully be instructors at our school.
Katie and Verena were the first two people that I can say that I taught everything I knew to. All the insight and experience I had accumulated to date, I tried my best to impart to them to help them become as complete as possible. They have both since moved away from Toronto and I know they are out there doing excellent work in the field.
From 2016 onwards, I’ve been focusing my energies on personally developing talented people to help meet the needs of our community.
Now, having spent years working with people and mentoring them, my goal is to transition towards developing qualified dog training professionals in-house.
Tim Alameciak had volunteered for nearly a year as a classroom assistant, and his own quest for knowledge and self-study gave him the foundational knowledge needed to be an instructor for our team.
And, most recently, Kelsey Edwards, another one of our year-long volunteers is next. Through our own internal training workshops, 1-on-1 coaching sessions, and guided self-study and reading lists, she leveled up to a point where her knowledge rivals that of those who graduate from recognized dog trainer certification programs.
Classroom Assistants and Volunteers
Over the years, we have had many people inquire about volunteering at our school to gain experience. Some stay as few as a couple of weeks and then stop showing up. Others have been extremely committed (and through hard work, ended up being instructors here).
In 2012 we had a Working Holiday Visa visitor from Japan, Megumi Yamanaka, volunteer as a classroom assistant for a year( Unfortunately I never got a picture with her). She is teaching dog training back home now.
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In recent years, Monisa Nandi, Stephanie Tran, and Megan Taylor have volunteered as classroom assistants with us – long enough for us to say that they’ve learned a lot and we’ve trusted them with different aspects of teaching and working directly with our clients.
And, Claire Kilburn volunteered with us for over a year while completing high school. She’s studying at McGill now, but works remotely as our admin assistant, and this last summer, she had the opportunity to teach both in the classroom and also be our representative and instructor at Paws in the Park.
There are some people who have volunteered with us for a month or two, once a week and now go around saying they apprenticed under me, which is a big misrepresentation (the first few months are just cleaning up messes and filling up water bowls… it’s a long time before I let people even answer simple questions or speak in class.
These days, so many people don’t stick with things or put in the hard work. Everyone wants shortcuts…
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While I am still very much involved directly in teaching (both group classes, and private lessons), I am transitioning towards skills development for our team – both our instructors and our volunteer classroom assistants. I’m getting good at it, and in the end, our community will benefit from a greater number of highly qualified dog training professionals.
To our committed volunteers, past and present – I wanted to express my gratitude to you and also complement you for your commitment to the process. Thank you!!!