Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind

Katie, Andre, and I recently met with Yariv Melamed, a dog trainer for Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind, while he was in town for work.

Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind in Beit Oved, Israel
Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind in Beit Oved, Israel.  Photo by Yariv Melamed.

In and of itself, this was pretty cool.  Meeting people who train working dogs in any field is always interesting.  Many working dog trainers still train using old fashioned methods (read: correction).  Here’s the cool thing about Yariv and the Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind: they switched over to exclusively clicker training five years ago.

Announcing the changes in training methods from correction training to clicker training took them four months.  They consulted clicker training experts such as Michele Pouliot (Director of R&D at Guide Dogs for the Blind, Karen Pryor Academy/ClickerExpo Faculty) for best practices. All the trainers got on board with the new methods.  The organization decided that positive reinforcement was the best and more humane method to train, and so they did it.  It’s really an inspiration; there are many other organizations closer to home who have more resources than the Israel Guide Dog Center who can’t be bothered to make those same changes, or who are in the process but are making very slow transitions.

This change in training methods is across the board.  The trainers on staff  are clicker trainers, and they check in monthly with their puppy raiser foster parents, who have the dogs for the first year of their lives.  Then they train with the clients who will ultimately get the dogs for several months, and check in once a year with the clients and their guide dogs.

The Israel Guide Dog Center did side by side tests of the old training methods versus the new, and found clicker training more effective and more precise.  Up to and including things like the dogs knowing exactly where to stop on curbs by the road, avoiding overhead branches, etc.

A typical sidewalk in Israel
A typical sidewalk in Israel

Here’s an added challenge: the picture above is a typical sidewalk in Israel.  They’re uneven, blocked by garbage and cars and treed, unpredictable.  And still, using clicker training and positive reinforcement, the Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind is able to train highly effective guide dogs.

Katie, Yariv, and I at our school
Katie, Yariv, and I at our school.

No more excuses… if they can do it, anyone can!

(Thank you for Shane and Nancy Spring, Cooper the Mini Golden Doodle’s parents, for the introduction to Yariv)

Volunteers Needed for University of Toronto Canine Cognition Lab

Dog CI Lever

Want to know more about how your dog thinks and learns? The Canine Cognition Lab at the University of Toronto (part of the Psychology department’s Computational Cognitive Development Lab) is looking for pet dogs and their owners to participate in fun studies examining what dogs understand about the physical and the social world.

We will be running some of our studies at When Hounds Fly on April 3, 10, 24 and May 1 2016, scheduling sessions between the hours of 3 – 8pm. Single-time participation and multi-day participation opportunities are available.

dog and tubes

Dog and Shelves

Dog CI Watching

Dog CI Lever

Dog CI Dial

All of our research takes the form of short, interactive games that are designed to be fun and engaging for dogs, such as interacting with puzzles and searching for treats. We record dogs’ actions and the choices they make in these tasks to learn more about what information they use to make decisions and solve problems.

To be eligible to participate your dog must:

1. be up to date on rabies vaccinations
2. be generally healthy at the time of participation
3. not have a record of aggression towards humans

For more information, or to sign your dog up to participate, email us on cocodev@psych.utoronto.ca, or call us at 416-946-3981.

We hope to meet you and your dog soon!

Canine Cognition Lab Research Team
Department of Psychology
University of Toronto

Computational Cognitive Development Lab

University of Toronto

School is in Session!

 

Why Positive Reinforcement?
Why Positive Reinforcement?

Earlier this month, we had the privilege of  being invited to do a lecture for a University of Toronto Introduction to Psychology for Ashley Waggoner Denton.  It is always an honour to be able to contribute to education and the scientific community; after all, where would dog trainers be today without the work of people like BF Skinner – who we have to thank for operant conditioning – and Ivan Pavlov and his dogs – who brought us classical conditioning?

operant-quadrants

Andre spoke to the class about Skinner and Pavlov, but also Keller Breland, one of the leaders in humane animal training, and Karen Pryor, founder of our alma mater and the woman who brought clicker training to dogs.  He also brought Petey, his senior beagle, to help him give visual demonstrations of the concepts that were being discussed.

Sit Pretty, Petey!
Sit Pretty, Petey!

Maybe it is just me, but it seemed like students in the lecture were more focused than I remember people being back in university… maybe the cute beagle had something to do with it!  He did get swarmed by adoring fans at the end of the lecture.  Hopefully the students enjoyed the class; maybe we have some future dog trainers in their midst!

Congratulations to New Therapy Dogs Percy and Sydney

Congratulations to Percy (When Hounds Fly Dundas West Alumni) and Sydney (When Hounds Fly North Toronto Alumni) for becoming our latest two alumni to become certified St John Ambulance Therapy Dogs! Sydney was already certified as a CKC Canine Good Neighbour as well.

Besides having the right temperament (not all dogs are suited for therapy dog work and that’s ok!), taking our Canine Good Neighbour prep class is an excellent way to learn the training skills needed to excel at the examination and tests.

Percy
Percy

 

Sydney
Sydney

Our New Location at 1036 Pape Avenue

Reception and Waiting Area

In the last six years, over 3000 dogs (and their owners!) have taken classes with When Hounds Fly.

We’re proud to announce that our 3500 square foot facility in Pape Village (1036 Pape Avenue) is now open, and accepting new students.

About Our Facility in Pape Village

Our latest facility is our most spacious to date, and is fully climate controlled, well ventilated, brightly lit, and clean. We’ve organized it ground up based on our knowledge of how to deliver 5-star dog training class experiences for our students.

Reception and Waiting Area
Reception and Waiting Area
Treat Pouches, Clickers, and Harnesses for Sale
Treat Pouches, Clickers, and Harnesses for Sale
Our spacious, matted, bright and clean training hall
Our spacious, matted, bright and clean training hall

Conveniently located in Pape Village (at Pape and Cosburn), this centrally located space is ideal if you live in Riverdale, Leslieville, The Danforth, East York, The Beach, Leaside, Rosedale, Cabbagetown, and The Distrillery District. We’re just minutes off of the Don Valley Parkway.

About our Instructors:

To ensure that our new students get the exact same quality of instruction that we’ve become famous for, one of our most senior instructors, Katie Hood, will be teaching all of our Puppy Socialization and Foundation Skills classes at Pape Village. While we are ramping up, our new students here will benefit from smaller class sizes (which means a semi-private lesson experience, and lots of attention), and a very wide range of available class date and times.

Katie Hood, KPA-CTP
Katie Hood, KPA-CTP teaches classes at our new Pape Village location

About Pape Village:

Pape Village is a quiet, modest neighbourhood showing sparks of incredible growth and change! When Hounds Fly is pleased to be part of an emerging community of new, exciting shops and services in this neighbourhood. With a good supply of reasonably-priced detached homes in the neighbourhood and good schools nearby, it’s quickly becoming a choice location for young families to live in.

Some of the awesome spots we’ve discovered since opening up include:

My Dog Spot

Owner Peggy Liang’s cute and bright grooming space and boutique is an ideal place to take your pup for a trim and a treat. Christine Ford of ohmydog dog walking takes Joey, her Westie, all the way to Peggy, even though Christine lives in Queen West/Trinity Bellwoods.

My Dog Spot, 911 Pape Avenue
My Dog Spot, 911 Pape Avenue

Danforth Veterinary Clinic

Dr. Judy Au and Dr. Jackie Elmhirst are just a block south of us. Danforth Veterinary Clinic has been serving the community of Pape Village for over 15 years.

Danforth Veterinary Clinic, 966 Pape Avenue.
Danforth Veterinary Clinic, 966 Pape Avenue.

Goat Coffee Co.

When you’re done classes, make sure to visit Goat Coffee Co. (one of the Top 10 most Instagrammable Cafes according to BlogTO). It’s quickly becoming our preferred meeting and work space when we’re not teaching classes.

 

[message_box title=”See You At Pape Village!” color=”green”]After determining which program is right for you and your dog, fill out an enrollment form and we look forward to seeing you at our newest facility![/message_box]

New Puppy Help! Expert Advice from When Hounds Fly Dog Training

Congratulations on your new addition!

Bringing home a new puppy is a big event and it’s your job to raise them to be confident and successful in the world. Having helped over 3000 dogs (and their owners) since 2010, we’ve been asked a lot of questions from new puppy owners over the years.

German Shepherd and Doberman Puppy Play

 

 

 

 

 

Here are answers to the top 5 questions we’re asked:

How do I teach my puppy to eliminate outside?

corgi_puppyWhen your puppy eliminates outside, throw a party! Wait until they’ve finished (so you don’t distract them), praise them, pet them, and give them a treat. Take your puppy outside often – every two hours to start. In addition, take them outside after any of these events:

  • Exuberant activity
  • Drinking water
  • Waking up
  • Eating food

 

If you can’t supervise your puppy directly, confine them so your puppy can’t wander throughout your home and have accidents. If your puppy does have an accident, stay calm, wait for them to finish and take them outside to ensure they don’t have to go anymore.

Do not punish your puppy! Punishing your puppy for accidents will scare them from eliminating while you are watching, which includes outdoors.

What do I do if my puppy cries when left alone?

You should avoid rushing back to your puppy if they cry when left alone, but it’s better to go slowly so they don’t cry at all. Get your puppy used to being alone by confining them briefly when you are still at home so they are calm while being physically separated from you.
Create a “safe place” for your puppy like a crate, exercise pen, or baby-gated area of your home
Put them in their safe place with something good to eat like a kong with wet food or a favourite chew item.

Once they’re busy with their item, try short departures from them. Answer emails, put on the laundry, or other chores around the house to help build your puppy’s confidence at being separated from you. These short departures set them up to succeed when you actually leave the house.

Ouch! How do I get my puppy to stop biting me?

sheepdog_puppy_nippingWhen your puppy is in a biting mood, redirect them to appropriate items to bite (plush toys, tug ropes, bones, chews, etc). You can teach your puppy to bite less by saying “Ouch!” when they bite too hard. If they are too excited, you may need to calm them down with some quiet time in their safe space. Lastly, never play games where you deliberately encourage your puppy to bite
your hands. It’s normal for puppies to nip, and later, as their puppy teeth fall out, they will stop nipping altogether.

How do I teach my puppy to walk nicely on a leash?

Praise and treat your puppy whenever they are walking nicely with you. Puppies need to be taught
how to walk on a leash and may frequently refuse to move. If your puppy tends to freeze, return to their side and encourage them to come with you instead of pulling them along. You may also pick them up, walk a few steps, and put them down again. Most puppies improve quickly.

When should I start training my puppy?

boston_terrier_puppyRight away! It’s much easier to teach your puppy good manners and establish good habits now, rather than having to correct unwanted behaviour later. Also, puppies have a crucial socialization period between 8 – 16 weeks of age where they need to experience new people, places, things, and other dogs. Enroll in a puppy socialization class that offers a safe, controlled environment where the focus is on careful socialization and play.

 

 

Why Choose When Hounds Fly?

Start ANY time – We accept new students at any time, so you can start socializing your new puppy right away.

Flexible Schedules – Puppy Socialization classes are scheduled multiple days and times a week – mix and match classes for greater flexibility.

Convenient Locations – Puppy Socialization classes are held at our Dundas West, Pape Village, and North Toronto locations.

Outstanding Training and Effective Results – Our method (clicker training) is safe for all family members, strengthens (not damages) your relationship with your dog, and is scientifically proven to be the most effective.

Top Instructors – All instructors are Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partners, or have their CPDT-KA designation.

 

About When Hounds Fly Puppy Socialization Classes:

This class is for prepared puppy owners that planned ahead and understand that the critical socialization period of a puppy is between 8 to 16 weeks. They know that during this developmental period, carefully implemented socialization experiences towards people, other dogs, and the sights and sounds of urban living will significantly reduce the likelihood of fear, anxiety, and aggression issues arising later in life. These owners understand that prior to complete vaccination, their puppy needs to have a rich socialization history and that a well-run puppy socialization class is a key component of that. This class is designed for these owners and their puppies.

Each class will consist of three components – 1) Structured, supervised, and healthy socialization opportunities, both on and off-leash for the puppies in the classroom 2) Weekly socialization topics and best-practice advice and practical exercises 3) Very basic clicker training exercises.

 

OK, I Want to Learn More.

 

Top 5 Tips for New Rescue Dog Owners

We are strong advocates of rescuing dogs. Some argue that older rescue dogs come with more issues than getting a new puppy, but in our experience, most rescue dogs are friendly, easily trainable, and can quickly become excellent companions.

Lucille was adopted at the age of 5 from the Oakville/Milton Humane Society. After completing Foundation Skills and Canine Good Neighbour classes, she recently passed her St. John's Therapy Dog exam! Here she is pictured at work with her therapy dog ID badge.
Lucille was adopted at the age of 5 from the Oakville/Milton Humane Society. After completing Foundation Skills and Canine Good Neighbour classes, she recently passed her St. John’s Therapy Dog exam! Here she is pictured at work with her therapy dog ID badge.

A common question we are asked is, “What should I do once my rescue dog comes home?”

Here are five recommendations for new rescue dog owners.

  1. Keep it quiet: We know that getting a new dog is exciting and you want to show them off to everyone you know, but it’s crucial for your new dog to have a quiet first week. They are adapting to a new environment, new schedule, new everything – that’s already a lot of stress. They don’t need to be overwhelmed by extra stressors, such as dozens of visitors there to see them, or to be taken to a dozen new places within the first few days of being with you.
  2. Create a “Safe Place”: Make sure your home is ready for your new dog by putting away potential destructive chewing items like shoes, and socks on the floor. Remove accessible food from the counter to prevent counter surfing. Ensure your dog has a safe place to hang out in, whether it’s a crate, an exercise pen, or an area of the house closed off by baby gates. You can put their toys there, have a bed ready, and make sure it’s dog proofed for when they need to be confined.
  3. Practice short departures: Some people will take time off work or bring their dog home on a weekend when they have lots of time to dedicate to their transition, but remember your dog needs to get used to being alone because for many the work week is coming! While it’s good to have some flexibility when your new dog arrives, don’t spend every hour by their side. Give them a meal in a food dispensing toy or freeze some wet food/peanut butter in a kong and while they’re engaged with it, step out for a couple of minutes, do a short errand, or go for a run. Get them used to departures as a time of relaxation associated with a high value food reward.
  4. Set them up to succeed: Instead of trying to test your dog’s skills by putting them in situations they may not be ready for, work on reinforcing the behaviours you want to see in your dog. For example, instead of taking your dog off leash to see what their recall is like (and have them run away), try them on a long line (20 to 30 foot leash) and reward them for returning to you. Work up to off leash activity. Don’t take chances with your dog’s behaviour as they are still new to you.
  5. Implement safety protocols: Many new rescue dogs are lost and never found again within days of adoption – they slip their collars and bolt, jump over a low gate, or squeeze through a front door and bolt. Make sure your dog’s collar is fit appropriately (only 2 fingers should fit in between the collar and their neck) and their harness is fit equally as snug. Review the safety of your yard and monitor their time there – dogs can dig out, or squeeze through small gaps. Crate or leash your new dog if you need to answer your front door.

 

Once your dog has settled in and is used to your routine, you can start to be able to predict how they will respond in situations and really get to know your new dog. Once that’s happened, you should sign them up for a group class to improve their manners and to develop a bond with your new addition.

 

Congratulations to Rachael Johnston

Rachael Johnston

Congratulations to our most senior instructor, Rachael Johnston, for passing her CPDT-KA examination with an excellent score of 90%. She now joins a very small number of dog trainers in Ontario that are both Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partners and have their CPDT-KA designation.

Rachael Johnston

We never doubted that she would easily pass with flying colours. She is, after all, When Hounds Fly’s most experienced dog training instructor. She began her career in the early 2000s, first graduating from a dog trainer academy that used correction training, but abandoned those techniques quickly because of the negative effects it had both on her and the dogs.

In 2003, she became a volunteer, mentor, and eventually, an instructor, at Sit Happens in Calgary. In 2009, she graduated from the Karen Pryor Academy, studying under Helix Fairweather. We were lucky to bring her onto our instructing staff in 2012 as she moved to Toronto. She’s been teaching on Thursdays and Sundays ever since.

With that many years experience and education, it’s no wonder she makes teaching class look effortless!

Congratulations again, Rachael!

 

#clickertraining with Rachael in #puppy class. #moosonee rescue #dogsofwhf

A video posted by When Hounds Fly (@whenhoundsfly) on

Lecturing at Ryerson on Behaviorism

Toronto Ryerson - Undergraduate Psychology Class Lecture

Petey and I were invited to lecture to a class of psychology undergrads on behaviorism! As a dog trainer that focuses on the practical application of the principles of operant conditioning, I owe a great deal to the academic world, and it was an honour to be able to pay it back (in my own little way).  Perhaps one of these students will end up producing a thesis that will help us better understand our dogs one day.

Here is a little clip of my talk. The historical aspects of behaviorism, and the jargon isn’t something I use regularly, so I hope I did it justice! Unfortunately, my camera got full just as we were about to play 101 Things to Do With a Box with Petey.

Thanks to Dr. Lucy McGarry for the opportunity. Her students were very engaged and asked excellent, thoughtful questions.

Toronto Ryerson - Undergraduate Psychology Class Lecture

School Closed January 21-28

ClickerExpo Portland

Our instructors, Katie Hood, Rachael Johnston, and Andre Yeu are attending ClickerExpo in Portland and as a result the school is closed for classes from January 21-28 (all locations, all classes).

We will be processing all enrollment forms during this period although our response will be slower. Emails inquiries sent to info@whenhoundsfly.com will also be responded to but with a delay. Phone/voicemails will not be checked.

We look forward to coming back with new information to further develop our skill and the effectiveness of all our programs!