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.
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.
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:
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.
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!
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.
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!)
Here are two books that we consider to be the absolute gold-standard in puppy raising/training books today.
We’re sharing this because we want to make sure that our prospective students get started on the right foot. Many of the best selling books on dog training are actually full of inaccurate information, or place the emphasis on often irrelevant concerns.
Unfortunately, neither of these outstanding books are available at your local bookstore. Fortunately, both are easy to order, and both are available as eBooks.
Our Top Pick – Puppy Start Right by Kenneth Martin, DVM, and Debbie Martin, RVT, VTS (Behavior)
Ideal for puppies and dogs of all ages, this book is a must-have resource for dog trainers, puppy socialization class instructors, and dog parents.
Whether you are raising a new puppy or have an adolescent or adult dog, Puppy Start Right can help solve many common nuisance behaviors. Puppy Start Right is a positive approach to problem-solving, prevention, and training—without the use of punishment.
Foundation training exercises are perfect for the household companion dog or the future star in competitive dog sports. Exercises include teaching your dog to focus and offer attention, targeting behaviors including a place or bed cue, the recall, sits and downs (stay cues), loose-leash walking, and the “bring,” “drop it,” and “leave it” cues. Enjoy step-by-step instructions with corresponding photos!
A Close Second – Available as an eBook! – Perfect Puppy in 7 Days by Sophia Yin, DVM
With 176 pages and over 400 photos, Dr. Yin explains why puppies do what they do, how even minor modifications in their environment and your inter- actions can dramatically affect their behavior, and how quickly they can learn when you set them up for success. This visual guide provides readers with a step-by-step plan for bonding with their pup, learning to communicate clearly, and providing the pup with essential life skills.
How Your Puppy Developed Before You Got Her
Why Start Training So Soon
A Foolproof Potty Training Program
Dr.Yin’sLearn to Earn Program for Puppies
Socializing Your Pup to Dogs, People, and Handling
A responsible and conscientious dog owner selects all their dog care professionals (veterinarian, trainer, groomer, etc.) with care. There is, however, one professional, that needs to be chosen more carefully than any. Yes, even over your dog trainer. That’s your dog walker.
Dog walkers spend a considerable amount of time with your dog. So much of the physical and mental well-being of your dog is dependent on how your dog walker operates his or her business and what their knowledge of dog behavior is like. Unfortunately, many dog walkers that I see would not meet my expectations – I would not put my own dogs in the care of most of the dog walkers I see out there.
I have the luxury of working mostly evenings and weekends – so I take my boys out for walks during the same hours that most dog owners are at work. I walk amongst the dog walkers. I’m often confused for them.
In recent months, some of the things I’ve witnessed include:
– Constant leash corrections – I was picking up Chase (the Jack Russell that I was training for eTalk) and in the span of just a thirty second elevator ride with a dog walker, I counted twenty leash corrections on a Golden Retriever puppy that must have only been 14 weeks old. All the dog was doing was sniffing, or looking around. By the end of the week, if you extrapolate that, that puppy will have received approximately 2000 leash corrections – and not once been taught what to actually do (how about asking the puppy to sit?)
– Violent “alpha rolling” – at Cherry Beach I witnessed a dog walker tackle and then sit on a Chocolate Lab. The dog walker must have been around 200 lbs in weight. Besides creating a dog that is afraid of people/physical touch, that kind of crushing weight can break bones or at minimum cause stress and damage to the spine.
– Bored, unexercised dogs – I see dog walkers that take their groups to the same boring concrete tennis court day in, day out. The dogs don’t even move anymore. They just sit there bored out of their mind. Mentally unstimulated, physically unexercised. What a waste. The worst offender I’ve seen is a dog walker that takes a group of dogs on a leash walk around a 400 meter oval track round and round for an hour – it’s the saddest group of dogs I’ve ever seen.
– Related to boredom – wandering dogs. I go to the dog park armed with amazing treats and squeeky balls, and I’ve worked hard to pump up my dogs’ motivation for toys. They fetch. They chase me down when I hide or run away. Often, a “stray” dog from a dog walker’s group will notice us having so much fun and latch on and try to hang out with us. I’ve left Cherry Beach and headed to the parking lot and have had dogs follow me out – dog walker nowhere to be seen.
Bored dogs at off leash dog parks make their own fun. If they’re not chasing balls or sticks or moving around, I’m fairly certain they’ll end up bothering other owners and other dogs. That’s how inappropriate play, bullying, and eventually fighting breaks out. Dogs that are subjected to physical punishment, especially when delivered by the unskilled hands of a dog walker (you can’t possible time punishment correctly if you’re in charge of six dogs) will eventually develop fear and aggression. In both cases I would rather see the dog stay at home for nine hours a day.
But, enough with the negative! There is hope… there are good dog walkers out there. They are in the minority so I hope you are lucky enough to have one. Last summer, I tagged along with Julie (she is a dog walker by day, and has two employees that walks dogs for her as well) because I wanted to learn a bit about what good dog walkers do, and also improve my own skills in handling multiple dogs at once off leash. I brought my video camera and here’s a montage of what a brilliant group dog walk should look like:
Good dog walkers:
Bring treats. Every day these people are with your dog for about two hours. There are many opportunities where your dogs will do something brilliant – that behavior should be reinforced, so it is repeated. Julie reinforces dogs for making good choices – especially recall.
Get them hooked on fetch. Three great things come from fetch. Gives physical exercise, conditioning a new reinforcer (dogs that’ll do anything for the ball to be thrown), and keeps them busy and out of trouble.
Keep moving. No sitting on a park bench checking text messages, while your dog harasses other dogs due to boredom and causes fights.
Consider mental stimulation. A leash walk around and around the same block is about as exciting as going on a treadmill, as is going to the same fenced in box five days a week. Your dog walker should mix it up regularly.
Pay attention and avoid problems. Strange dog with testicles on a pinch collar hard staring at your dogs coming this way? Recall your dogs and move away quickly. Every other person and dog is a potential risk that requires assessment and the best solution to problems is to avoid them altogether.
Realize they’re not a dog trainer. Julie is, but most aren’t. I recently received an email from a great dog walker I know. She included her client, and described her dog’s recent displays of aggression, and asked for help. A professional knows their limits.
If you’re considering a dog walker, or currently have one, ask hard questions and get good answers. A bad choice – your dog will suffer and you will see the behavioural fallout. A good choice – you’ll see countless benefits, such as improved off-leash recall and a tired, relaxed dog.