How Do I Socialize My Puppy While Puppy Socialization Classes Are Suspended?

By Erin Britton:

COVID19 is disrupting more than just our human interaction; our dogs are affected too! Some puppies may be isolated during a critical socialization period. How can we continue to give our dogs adequate physical and mental stimulation, as well as positive socialization experiences during this time?

Socialization Done Right

Many people think of a pile of puppies running, wrestling, and playing when they think of socialization. In reality, teaching dogs to mind their social manners is only one part of proper socialization. 

Socialization done right teaches the puppy that the world they live in is safe and fun, through positive experiences with new sights, smells, noises, feelings, and environments.

If you are not currently affected by COVID-19, you MUST still bring your puppy out for socialization experiences:

  • Continue to bring your puppy on walks, exploring new areas, and seeing new dogs. Always supervise interactions closely, and be picky about which dogs your puppy will meet (do you know their vaccination and health status?)
  • Taking your puppy out for walks or outings each and every day still lets you expose them to other dogs in the following way:
    • Sight – Seeing various dogs, how they move, what they look like
    • Sounds – Hearing other dogs bark and make noises
    • Smell – Air scenting as they follow the trail of a dog that was by a few minutes ago
    • On-Leash Greetings – Best advice at this time from health officials would suggest this is not safe, as leashes could quickly get tangled, and then owner(s) would have to break social distancing guidelines to untangle leashes and dogs
  • As soon as permitted to by health authorities: Current Students and Alumni of When Hounds Fly can use our Facebook Group to set up play dates with other puppies from unaffected homes. Similarly, as soon as permitted, we will be hosting Puppy Parties for our students for supervised socialization sessions.
  • Puppies that have not completed their vaccinations can still observe other dogs at a safe distance. They should not be going into the dog park (which are closed at this time), but can be carried nearby to these environments and allowed to observe the sights, sounds, and smells of adult dogs.

 

From the American Veterinary Medicine Association:

  • If you are not ill with COVID-19, you can interact with your pet as you normally would, including walking, feeding, and playing. You should continue to practice good hygiene during those interactions (e.g., wash hands before and after interacting with your pet; ensure your pet is kept well-groomed; regularly clean your pet’s food and water bowls, bedding material, and toys).
  • Out of an abundance of caution, it is recommended that those ill with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. Have another member of your household take care of walking, feeding, and playing with your pet. If you have a service animal or you must care for your pet, then wear a facemask; don’t share food, kiss, or hug them; and wash your hands before and after any contact with them.

https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/animal-health-and-welfare/covid-19

Continue to use safety precautions when out with your puppy: 

  • Stay at a distance from people. Let the dogs interact on leash, if your puppy has sufficient vaccinations. Do not shake hands with other dog owners. 
  • Do not touch the other dog, unless necessary. 
  • Do not touch your face with unwashed hands (after coming close to other dogs and owners). Wearing gloves is a good physical reminder to not touch your face (even with gloves on!)
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after walks.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html

 

Every new puppy owner, whether affected by COVID19 or not, should practice a multitude of other socialization exercises that can be done in your home! The key is to expose your puppy to something new. It could be anything from a new surface (the bathroom floor) to your vacuum cleaner noise, from checking teeth and ears, to you wearing hats/scarves. In each case, the idea is for the puppy to be comfortable in that situation. 

 

Set Up for Success:

  • Know how to read puppy body language! If we don’t know what our puppy is telling us (I’m afraid vs. I’m fine), we run the risk of accidentally having a negative experience.
    • Need some help decoding your puppy’s body language? Check out this awesome website: ispeakdog.org
  • Allow your puppy to explore new things by choice. Do not force a puppy to go closer to things they are afraid of or unsure of. Allow them to back away if they want to.
  • Make the experience even MORE positive by giving your puppy treats and playing with them when they explore the new thing, hear the new thing, feel the new thing, etc.
  • To avoid creating fear, anxiety, and aggression problems, if your puppy is reacting with extreme fear with the new thing/situation, stop the exposure. 

 

Methods to Use

New sights, smells, and surfaces

Present a strange object such as a skateboard to the dog. At first, the dog may be scared of it, but when it musters enough courage to go closer to take a bit of a sniff, click, and then treat the dog for approaching it. 

Repeat this many times with this object, and many other objects, so that the dog’s confidence to explore increases. The same should be done for exploring surfaces and spaces, such as the bathroom floor, the stairs, crawling under chairs, etc. For people-shy dogs, this exercise can even be extended to being brave to go up and sniff strangers.

 

Here’s a great look at creating a positive experience with the vacuum cleaner:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCNAv5aETho

 

Scary sounds

Sound Sensitivity is another key area to work on. Anxiety around thunderstorms and fireworks can be crippling. Use YouTube sound clips to socialize your puppy to scary sounds. Play the sound at a low volume, and feed, play, and engage with your puppy. When the sound stops, stop feeding!

We love the Sound Proof Puppy Training App! It has a great variety of sound clips to help you create positive experiences for your puppy. https://www.facebook.com/SoundProofPuppyTraining/

 

Grooming and Handling

Touch your dog or restrain your dog. If your dog remains calm, click, and then feed a

treat. If your dog flinches, pulls away, or generally seems uncomfortable, stop, and try again but

using a milder, gentler version of what you did previously. 

 

Looking for inspiration?

Check out this puppy socialization checklist, from Dr. Sophia Yin.

https://drsophiayin.com/app/uploads/2015/12/Socialization_Checklist.pdf

 

Other resources:

https://drsophiayin.com/blog/entry/puppy-socialization-stop-fear-before-it-starts/

https://www.clickertraining.com/dont-socialize-the-dog

 

In Summary…

In brief, during this period where Puppy Socialization group classes are suspended, you still have a lot of work to do. Puppies running around and playing with each other only represents a portion of the important work you are responsible for doing. You should still be teaching basic foundation behaviours, and you’ll want some advice on topics like nipping and biting, so that’s what our Virtual Classes, Phone Consultations, and 1-on-1 Lessons (Both in-person and virtual) are for. Take advantage of your free time and get to work!

 

When Hounds Fly’s Core Values

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.

YES, Above All, Positive Reinforcement

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.

Clicker Training a Donkey…

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.

Invited to speak at University of Toronto Psychology courses

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.

HAVE FUN
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.

WELCOME DIVERSITY
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, disability, race, or place of origin.

At ClickerExpo 2019

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.

When we eat together, it’s vegetarian or vegan, every time!

 

Starting January 2020! Puppy Socialization Classes at Wellesley Animal Hospital

Wellesley Animal Hospital x When Hounds Fly

We are very excited to announce that we have partnered with Wellesley Animal Hospital to expand our reach and offer our Puppy Socialization classes on Sunday afternoons at their clinic at 535 Yonge Street.

Sessions start in January 2020, and we will be running a limited number of classes only on Sunday afternoons. So, to avoid disappointment, if you’d like to enroll your puppy you are expecting to join your family in January, please reserve your spot right away.

Of course, we will be continuing our daily Puppy Socialization class schedule at our Dundas West and Pape Village facility, but for those of you who live right in the core, this may be a very convenient option for you to also consider!

Get the details, and apply for admission:

whenhoundsfly.com/wellesley

Going to Training Camp! Fenzi Dog Sports Academy 2018

Fenzi Dog Sports Academy

When Hounds Fly is closed from Thursday May 31 to Monday June 4 inclusive because most of us will be attending the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy Training Camp 2018 in Wilmington, Ohio!

We look forward to learning from the brightest minds in Dog Sports training from disciplines such as Agility, Obedience, Nosework, and Canine Freestyle.

We are never satisfied; always trying to level up 🙂

In the meantime, please note that we will generally NOT be checking emails or admissions forms, so please be patient and we’ll be getting back to your inquiries after June 4th.

In the meantime, this weekend, check out:

Dundas West Fest Saturday June 2

Pape Village SummerFest Saturday June 2

2019 Winter Small Dog Socials (Updated)

In 2019, we are pleased to resume Small Dog Social play groups for alumni and dogs that are currently enrolled in classes at When Hounds Fly! This is an excellent opportunity to socialize and exercise your dog off leash in a safe, clean and supervised environment.

Play groups will be 45 minutes in length and supervised by an experienced associate instructor.

Cost is $20 per dog per session with a maximum of 5 dogs per play group.

Play groups are suitable for:

  • Alumni and Current Students Only
  • Dogs under 20 lbs
  • Dogs that are up to date on vaccinations (3rd booster minimum)
  • Neutered or Spayed if over 7 months
  • Dogs that are well socialized. Dogs that are disruptive, display bullying or aggressive behaviours will be asked to leave.
  • Dogs that hump other dogs excessively will be asked to leave.
  • Dogs that mark/pee constantly will be asked to leave.

Pre-registration and pre-payment is required for all participants. Due to limited space, no refunds will be offered for missed classes and cancellations must be no later than 24 hours before the scheduled play group.

Play Groups will be offered on select Sundays at both our Dundas West and Pape Village locations:

 

Dundas West Small Dog Socials Calendar

2019 Dundas West dates: January 27, February 3, 17, and 24 at 2pm

Pape Village Small Dog Socials

2019 Pape Village dates: February 10, March 3rd at 3pm

To sign up:

If you attended in 2018, your login is still there!  If you forgot the password, simply reset it and get started.

If you are alumni and have not attended, you’ll need a password to make an account and signup.  Please email the office at info@whenhoundsfly.com for that password.

Credits can be bought online once you have your login, and you can book your pup in!

Gratitude and My Next Challenge

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.

Karen Pryor Visits When Hounds Fly
2011 – Julie Posluns, Mirkka Koivusalo, and Emily Fisher, my first group of talented instructors
Rachael Johnston
2012 – Rachael Johnston joined us (And she’s been with us since)
Alexa Mareschal
2013 – Alexa Mareschal joined us briefly – she had worked in the US at the head office of PetCo on their national training office. She’s a lawyer now in Salt Lake City…
2017 – Sara Russell joined our team early this year, already completing her KPA-CTP and coming with years of experience in the field.

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.

2014-2016 – Verena Schleich and Katie Hood became instructors at When Hounds Fly while volunteering and assisting classes and completing their Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner programs.

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.

2017 – Tim Alamenciak
2017 – Kelsey Edwards

From 2016 onwards, I’ve been focusing my energies on personally developing talented people to help meet the needs of our community.

In the past, I left the formal education to organizations such as the Karen Pryor Academy, Pat Miller Peaceable Paws, or Jean Donaldson’s Academy for Dog Trainers.

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.


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.

Claire Kilburn at Paws in the Park

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…

My Next Challenge

 

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!!!

 

 

Sincerely,

Andre Yeu

Work with the Toronto Humane Society

This year, we’ve had the opportunity to work with the Toronto Humane Society in a variety of ways. One of our missions is to improve the welfare of animals (in particular, dogs), so it was our pleasure to offer our expertise and services to them.

Andre Yeu had the opportunity to provide clicker training seminars to a variety of THS staff (Animal Care Workers, Supervisors, and their Canine Behaviour Team):

Rachael Johnston has had the opportunity to provide consulting services to discuss behaviour modification for a number of dogs under the care of the Canine Behaviour Team at THS.

And this summer, we were invited to offer complementary mini-training sessions at Paws in the Park,

THS’ annual fundraiser and adoption festival.

 

We hope to have future opportunities to work with the Toronto Humane Society to share our knowledge of humane training methods and clicker training again in the future!

ClickerExpo 2017

We – Rachael, Andre, and Verena – just got back from Portland, Oregon, where we spend 4 days at ClickerExpo – a huge conference for clicker trainers, run by the Karen Pryor Academy, where all three of us studied.  It was a truly amazing experience, spending four straight days surrounded by clicker trainers of all walks of life and experience levels.

We spent one full day doing chicken camp – in which we clicker trained chickens with Terry Ryan.  This should be on every dog trainer’s bucket list.  It’s an excellent way to brush up on your precision and timing, with a less forgiving animal than a dog.

Three days were then spend back to back in labs and seminars, with presenters like Kathy Sdao, Dr. Susan G. Friedman, Ken Ramirez, Michele Pouliot, Sarah Owings, Laura VanArendonk Baugh, Hannah Branigan, Jesus Rosales-Ruiz, and more.

I think it’s fair to say that  we all came back better trainers – and teachers – than we were when we left.

Rachael, Verena, and Andre in Portland
Chicken Camp Attendees
Andre and his Chicken (Photography by: Marty Strausbaugh)
Terry Ryan & Verena
First Night of Expo Meet and Greet
Working with Chickens! (Andre on left, Rachael on right)
Andre, Verena, and Rachael with our Chickens

Closed for Continuing Education January 25 to 31st

Dear Prospect Students –

Thanks for visiting our web site!

Our commitment to excellent dog training means despite working with over 4000 dogs (and their families) for the last 7 years, we continue to invest in education and are never done learning.

Instructors at When Hounds Fly are away for a week to attend ClickerExpo in Portland, Oregon. Please note our school is closed for all current students from January 25 to 31st.

DSCF1058-300x225DSCF1075-300x225DSCF1087-300x225

Our administrative staff are responding to New Student Enrollment Forms/Class Registrations during our closure, but our response may be delayed.

Inquiries or special requests may not be responded to till we resume operations in February.

Thanks for your understanding and we will see you in February!

Sincerely,

The teaching staff at When Hounds Fly