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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
Why does your dog bark and lunge at other dogs on leash? Are you embarassed, frustrated, and anxious about walking your dog because of the way they act when they see another dog on the sidewalk? Rest assured, this problem is very common. If you are confused about the myriad of explanations and training protocols for helping your dog with this problem, this seminar is for you. We will introduce common reasons for the problem and describe what one should do and what one should not do to help. Please note this is a people-only seminar, and is designed to get you started in the right direction to addressing your dog’s problems, including how to select a dog training professional to help you.
The two hour seminar will be a combination of lecture, slides, video, and towards the end, moderated Q&A. Please note, this is a people-only seminar, so please leave your dogs at home.
Date: January 14, 2015
Location: 1108 Dundas Street West
Time: 7:30PM-9:00PM (1.5 hours)
Cost: $20 for one attendee, $30 total for two attendees from the same household, plus HST.
Pre-registration/pre-payment is encouraged to avoid disappointment due to capacity limitations – you can buy online via PayPal below. You can register on-site on January 14th if space is available; payment forms accepted are cash, Interac, Visa, or Mastercard.
Due to limited capacity we regret refunds are not available.
As we come close to five years of providing dog training services, I am more excited about what the future holds for When Hounds Fly than ever before.
We have a lot planned and I look forward to sharing more with you over the coming weeks.
The first bit of news is… no, this is not in fact us visiting a church community center… this is us after getting the keys to the additional training space we have signed the lease on! When we’re done, we’ll have 3000+ square feet dedicated to dog training excellence.
Perhaps you know the house on your street where as soon as you walk by, you are greeted by a frantic and not-so-friendly sounding bark and bump on a glass window?
Oh look, there’s that dog – he always barks at us when we walk by this house.
Many owners think that letting their dog stare out the window is a way to let their dog “enjoy” the view while they are left home alone and that it’s a form of relaxation. After all, we love sitting on our porches in the summer and letting the world pass us by, right?
Unfortunately, allowing your dog to stare out windows when unsupervised is potentially a very harmful activity, and in a relatively short amount of time, can cause your dog to bark and lunge aggressively at dogs and people on the street. It also prevents them from resting – they are always hyper vigilant for very long durations, every day, and unable to truly relax and de-stress.
Typically, a well-socialized and friendly dog is given access to their new window ledge in his new home (or sometimes even access to a window in a lower-storey condo). He sees a dog being walked on the street, and gets excited because he want to go visit the dog to socialize. But, he can’t! He’s stuck behind glass. He feels disappointed and also frustrated.
Every single day, he sits at the window, and classical conditioning is occurring. The sight of people walking by causes excitement, and then frustration at the fact he is stuck behind a glass window. Soon, instead of being happy to see a dog and person on the street, he immediately feels frustrated and eventually angry. This is called barrier frustration.
A lot of times, this conditioned emotional response to people and dogs on the street generalizes to not just when inside, but also when outside on a leash walk. Now, the dog that barks and lunges at things behind the window also does this when outside on leash walks.
After months or even years of this conditioning – the frustration builds up to a point where some dogs, if allowed to rush out the front door left ajar, will run out and actually bite someone walking by. After tens of thousands of people and dogs walking by, the frustration has transformed into serious aggression. This is also called “chain rage”, where dogs on tie outs in suburban and rural property become highly aggressive due to years of barrier frustration.
To avoid this problem, never allow your dog to have unsupervised access to look out windows, or even in the yard through fences. Don’t leave your dog in the yard all day while you’re at work. Instead, restrict access when they’re unsupervised through window coverings, privacy film, crating/confinement, or simply preventing access to the room these windows are in. When you’re with your dog by the window or yard, and they notice people and dogs walking by your property, mark and reinforce them with food, play, and praise, for calmly noticing passerbys, so you help train behavior and condition positive associations with passerbys.
Curious about the types of dogs that have taken classes at When Hounds Fly this year?
Below is a list of all the breed types (and counts) that have taken classes with us for the first time. This doesn’t include students that joined us in previous years and came back in 2013 for additional classes though.
Dogs without clear pedigree (i.e. owner specified as a “Beagle mix” or “Lab Mix”) and popular cross-breeds (i.e. Golden Retriver / Poodle mix, or Pug / Beagle mix) were simply categorized in the “Mixed” group.
Apologies there were a few very rare breeds that were missing from our database, and we may have missed one or two really obscure breeds.
The Top 5
#5 – Beagle (9 in total)
#4 – Boston Terrier (9 in total)
#3 – Australian Shepherd (9 in total)
#2 – Labrador Retriever (12 in total)
#1 – Golden Retriever (15 in total)
Dog Breed – Full List and Count
Afghan Hound 1
Airedale Terrier 1
Akita Inu 1
Australian Cattle Dog 1
Australian Shepherd 9
Belgian Shepherd Dog 1
Berger Picard 1
Bernese Mountain Dog 4
Bichon Frisé 1
Black Russian Terrier 1
Border Collie 4
Border Terrier 5
Boston Terrier 9
Brittany Spaniel 3
Brussels Griffon 2
Cairn Terrier 2
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel 2
Chihuahua (Short Coat) 4
Chow Chow 1
Coton de Tulear 3
Doberman Pinscher 4
Dogue de Bordeaux 1
Dutch Shepherd Dog 1
English Cocker Spaniel 1
English Springer Spaniel 3
Flat-Coated Retriever 1
Fox Terrier (Smooth) 1
French Bulldog 4
German Shepherd Dog 8
German Shorthaired Pointer 2
Golden Retriever 15
Great Dane 4
Icelandic Sheepdog 1
Italian Greyhound 4
Jack Russell Terrier 2
Labrador Retriever 12
Lagotto Romagnolo 1
Lakeland Terrier 3
Miniature Pinscher 1
Miniature Schnauzer 4
Nova Scotia Duck-Tolling Retriever 2
Old English Sheepdog 2
Poodle (Miniature) 1
Poodle (Standard) 2
Poodle (Toy) 2
Portuguese Water Dog 6
Rhodesian Ridgeback 4
Shetland Sheepdog 1
Shiba Inu 4
Shih Tzu 4
Siberian Husky 5
Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier 5
Vizsla (Smooth-Haired) 6
Welsh Corgi (Pembroke) 3
Welsh Terrier 1
West Highland White Terrier 2
Yorkshire Terrier 3
Saturday Afternoon, 3:00PM, Trinity Bellwoods Dog Bowl
This weekend I caught up with a couple that had taken group classes in the summer. Their roughly two year old rescue lab mix had been doing great. Right after adoption, leash pulling was their major problem, and they were proud (and I was pleasantly surprised!) that just six months later, the dog walked on a loose leash, even on the way to the dog park, and all they did to create that was click then treat for walking on a loose leash (They were able to totally fade out food reinforcement for leash walking very quickly they remarked).
They hired me for a private lesson because they observed and their dog walker observed that their dog was being rude with other dogs at the dog park. First, lots of mounting and humping. Second, chasing down and harassing dogs that were nervous or had “given up”. Third, grappling other dogs by their collars during wrestling.
Our appointment was for 3pm on Saturday afternoon, and after meeting at the school, we walked towards Trinity Bellwoods to enter the dog bowl – the official off-leash area for dogs in the park, so I could observe their dog’s behaviour and offer suggestions on what to do to improve it.
We started off by having her to some basic exercises (sit, down, offering attention, etc.) and then we released her to go play.
She found a Golden Retriever and proceeded to wrestle, and very quickly mounted and humped him. “Too bad!” I said, as I went to get her, moved her away by her harness, and leashed her up. Timeout time.
We tried again in a minute, and this time she ran into the mix of dogs at the park. Within a few seconds, a Doberman, German Shepherd, and Rottie mix started chasing her. It was starting to look ugly. She ran and ran, and eventually came to a halt, and offered appeasement signals (c-shaped spine, head low, whale eye, pinned ears) and the pack of three dogs wouldn’t let up. I ran into the group and physically shielded her from all three, and the owner of the Doberman saw me do this and proceeded to collect his dog. The remaining two dogs moved on by themselves. Their owners were absent.
I moved with my clients’ to the other side of the bowl and we let her go again. This time, she found a slightly smaller mixed breed dog and started giving chase. She was now chasing down a dog and making him feel uncomfortable! The same appeasement signals were being offered. We jumped in and quickly timed out our dog. What a hypocrite, we all thought!
Off in the distance, the three dogs that were bullying my clients’ dog were doing it to somebody else’s dog, but this time, no one was intervening. We had enough distance so I wasn’t concerned about my clients’ dog’s well being. But somebody’s dog was not very happy.
On the way out, our clients’ dog went to visit the German Shepherd. He told her off, hard, just because she entered his space. She got the hint and we moved on. Another dog went to visit the German Shepherd, and he got told off. I quickly realized that the Shepherd was resource guarding his owners. Yet they had brought their resource guarding dog and were just sitting around the dog bowl thinking nothing of it.
THIS is What Goes On?
I don’t go to these parks with my own dogs. I forget what goes on in places like this. Enclosed spaces devoid of anything interesting where too many dogs hang out – understimulated by the environment, but overaroused by other dogs. Too many people think that these dogs are playing and having fun. They were not. There was serious bullying and overarousal going on.
Today at lunch something connected. I get a lot of aggression cases where clients report that their dog was “well socialized” and spent a lot of time at the dog park. What I came to realize is all the owners with their dogs at the dog bowl that day were there because they really think that’s what the definition of dog socialization is, and that’s what dog play looks like.
If you took the average dog and had them stay in a poisoned environment like that for any length of time for weeks or months, I would be surprised if that dog did not develop an aggression problem. All that happens is dogs get bullied, these dogs learn that other dogs can be dangerous or threatening, my owners don’t help me at all, and the only way to get relief is to fight for it.
THIS is Normal
This is a video from a nearby park of two dogs meeting. One is trying a bit too hard. (OK, mine, the Beagle). The other dog offers some calming signals (head turn, look away, lay down) to communicate some discomfort. For the most part the Beagle backs off and the video ends with him reciprocating a head turn. After that the two just went off and did their own thing.
This is a video of Rachael taking a group of dogs out for a hike. This would be a great example of an alternative to being taken to a concrete, paved dog run.
THIS is NOT Healthy – But Sadly Normal at Dog Parks
In this above video by Sue Sternberg, you can see a small dog doing appeasement gestures and clearly asking for help. Owner intervention is required immediately. If I owned the little dog I would body-block him and even just pick him up and immediately leave the park. If this dog is repeatedly taken to the dog park and experiences this, I have no doubt he will develop a serious dog aggression problem very quickly.
“Oh, but that’s how dogs play”
“My dog likes playing rough”
“Your dog needs to toughen up!”
“Let them work it out.”
Too commonly heard at places like the dog bowl. All wrong. That’s why I don’t go to places like that anymore, especially when it is busy.
Recognize Oncoming Disasters When You See Them
This is why I cringe a little when I hear of my clients’ taking their puppies to the dog park. I hope they have learned what we have taught them in puppy class, so they can identify what is good play and what is bullying. I also hope that they don’t unlearn due to the off-repeated mantras that well-intentioned but really uneducated owners parrot at dog parks. This Saturday afternoon at the dog bowl was a mess. Recognize a disaster in the making when you see it and keep your dog safe. Socialize, don’t traumatize your dog.
(Updated – Nov 19: A couple of commenters with a good eye did point out that the original video I used from puppy class wasn’t the best example. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WehLVdUPHpc – Things pointed out were tail tucked, trying to climb into person’s legs etc. for relief. So I am switching it out for another video that is a better example, I hope. The Springer and Beagle were good friends by the end of class and in future socialization classes though, so don’t worry about her!)
I went to visit Marcel’s home for a private lesson to help his new family help him adjust to city living. He is very excited when he sees other dogs on his walks. He’s getting better but it’s going to take time.
As I approached their home and locked up my bike, I saw this illustration taped to their home’s front door.
Please think about it when you are out walking your dog. Dogs that are reactive and are in training are loved terribly by their families and they deserve our consideration. When people let their dogs rush up without permission (usually off-leash) and set off dogs like Marcel, I just don’t think they understand how it makes their owners feel. Keeping your dog on-leash and in-control in public spaces, and asking permission before allowing your dog to say hello – it is a small courtesy that goes a long way.