Webinar: Train Your Own Service Dog 101 – May 21, 7PM

Service animals can be life-changing, providing much-needed freedom to their handlers. Similar to a wheelchair or portable oxygen, service animals allow their handlers to participate fully in society by mitigating effects of a disability.

There are two common ways service dogs are trained:

  • By an organization, where they are raised from birth and trained to a very high level before being placed in a home
  • By an individual, who trains their own dog with the guidance of a trainer

Both of these methods are effective, and both are completely legal and legitimate ways to obtain a service dog.

This webinar will introduce the steps to the second method, answering questions such as:

  • Who could benefit from a dog that has been trained to perform assistance tasks?
  • What resources are required, and what are the qualities of someone who could be successful at training their own service dog?
  • What qualities are required for a dog to be successful at becoming a task-trained service dog?
  • What does a training program for an owner-trained service dog entail?
  • What are the laws regarding Service Dogs and Public Access in the Province of Ontario?

Capacity is limited to 100 on a first-come first serve basis – Please arrive punctually!

If we reach capacity or you miss the live event, don’t worry, we will be recording the webinar for viewing later.

Topic: Training Your Own Service Dog 101

Time: May 21, 2020 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Cost: Free

Join Zoom Meeting:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87439529722?pwd=TGRRZHRhSlF0U21ycHd5NzNyT2NZQT09

Meeting ID: 874 3952 9722
Password: 384125

My Dog is Bored and is Driving Me Crazy – Enrichment During Social Distancing / COVID-19

By Dr. Sarah Shapiro-Ward

Enrichment describes all the activities our dogs do which fulfill their mental, social and physical needs. Toronto dogs are typically accustomed to getting their social time through daycare, dog walkers, playdates and dog parks. Physical needs are typically met via hiking, playing fetch or walking around Toronto’s streets and green spaces. Mental enrichment comes from interacting with their humans, solving puzzles and exploring their environment through their noses. With many of these activities curtailed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, what can we do to ensure our dogs cope?

 

Nosework

Sniffing is one of the most mentally enriching activities for our dogs – after all their sense of smell is around 40 times stronger than ours is! It may be counter-intuitive, but walking more slowly and providing your dog with plenty of time to explore scents with their noses is more enriching than walking briskly. Get the most out of your limited outdoor time by allowing your dog time to sniff!

There are also plenty of ways to get your dog’s nose working at home. You can take a formal scent detection class with us, for example.

Alternatively, try playing the “find it” game:

Level 1 (easy): Put your dog in her crate or have somebody hold her while you hide several treats around the house. As you open the crate door cue “find it!” and sit back as your dog uses their nose to search out the treats. If they are struggling after 30 seconds, offer a hint by pointing to the treat. 

Level 2 (intermediate): Ask your dog for a down-stay out of sight while you hide the treats. Cue “find it!” to release her from the stay.

Level 3 (advanced): Conceal treats in challenging locations – under the doormat, behind the sofa cushion, on a raised shelf – get creative!

(PS: We’re launching our Scent Detection class for Virtual delivery very soon!)

Food Puzzles

Food Puzzles are a well-known way of providing some mental enrichment for your dog. These are toys with compartments for concealed food – your dog must figure out how to roll, knock, pull or push the toy so that it dispenses the food. Unfortunately, many of our dogs figure out their food puzzles in record time, and what was a mental challenge quickly becomes just another slow feeder. Keep your food puzzles fresh and interesting by mixing them up!

Training

Training is one of the best ways to keep your dog mentally stimulated, and it has the benefit of improving your dog’s behaviour! Consider replacing lost exercise time with a dedicated routine of training to keep your dog busy and challenged. Work on your dog’s basics by joining us for Foundation Skills Virtual classes (more information: https://sites.google.com/whenhoundsfly.com/virtual) or consider taking a more advanced class with us. During this time, we are allowing anyone to audit our classes on a Pay-What-You-Feel basis (and if your situation is that you can’t pay, that’s ok!)

Set yourself specific training goals and celebrate with your pup when you reach them! Here are some training goal ideas:

  •       30 second down stay while I retrieve the tug rope from the other room
  •       Verbal cue differentiation: Dog lies down on “down” cue and sits on “sit” cue without mixing them up
  •       Recall from the other end of the house
  •       Leave-it, treat placed 10 cm away on the ground for 10 seconds
  •       Teach a new trick! E.g. roll over, play dead, fetch my TV remote, sit pretty etc

Dog Training During Social Distancing Covid 19 Toronto Shake a Paw

If you’re stuck for training ideas or struggling to meet your goals, we’d be delighted to help you via our 30 minute phone consultation service: https://www.whenhoundsfly.com/phone-consultation/
or Virtual In-Home Lessons https://www.whenhoundsfly.com/foundation-skills-in-home/

Canine Conditioning

Canine conditioning is a collection of exercises designed to increase your dog’s fitness, strength, body awareness (proprioception), and co-ordination. Many of these exercises can be done at home with some basic equipment.

Cavaletti poles: These are raised poles for your dog to step over at a walk or trot. This helps your dog develop a balanced gait and good coordination.

Balance Games: Teaching your dog to balance on wobbly surfaces or small platforms can strengthen muscles and improve body awareness.

Hind-end awareness: These exercises are designed to get your dog moving their hind quarters independently of their front legs. Two popular challenges are: Targeting a platform with rear paws only, commonly taught in dog agility to improve Dog Walk / A frame performance; and circling around a front-paw perch which can be used to teach heel position as shown in this video (Andre & Petey). Both exercises are excellent for body awareness and coordination.

There are plenty of other conditioning exercises out there to keep you & your dog busy!

Engagement Games

Engagement games foster our dog’s relationship with us through having fun together! These games include Fetch and Tug of War, but did you know there are lots of other engagement games to try?

Hide ‘n Seek: Hide from your dog in another room, closet, under the bed etc. Call them once and wait…. If they successfully find you, reward them with praise and a delicious treat! For an easy version of this, work with a partner to hold your dog as you hide. If your dog is more advanced, try putting them in a down-stay instead.

Come and Go: In this game, encourage your dog to run through your legs! Recall your dog, then toss a treat between your legs. Make the game harder by adding distance or more than one person! Here’s Stephanie and Mila demonstrating the game: 

Chase Me: Many of our dogs love to be chased, but we don’t encourage chasing your dog as this can adversely affect your recall. Did you know that chasing can be just as fun for your dog the other way around? Call your dog to your side and run away! When your dog catches up, praise and reward them. Playing chase-me this way around can actually improve your dog’s recall abilities!


In summary, with the requirements of social distancing, now’s the time to invest more in training and enrichment for your dog. Try some of these suggestions, or join us in the virtual classroom! After all, your dog’s can’t curl up with a book or binge watch a series on Netflix – it’s up to us!

 

Photo Credit: @bearthehappydog

How to Select a Dog Walker, Daycare, Groomer

Dogs in Dog Walker Van

Choosing a walker, groomer, or daycare for your dog can be a bit overwhelming. There are so many options out there, and because these professions aren’t regulated, anyone could call themselves an expert. The wrong choice could be bad news for the safety and well-being of your dog. From a dog trainer’s perspective, behavioural issues can develop or worsen if the dog is regularly exposed to a daycare, grooming, or walking experience that is less than ideal.

Along with reading reviews and trusting your gut, it’s important to also screen potential dog care services with some questions. We’ve compiled a handy list here of some questions we think are important from a behavioural soundness point of view. Feel free to pick and choose the questions you feel are most important, or go ahead and ask them all!

What are your staffing ratios?

Tons of dogs per staff member means a higher chance of things getting out of control, and fewer hands on deck if there is ever an emergency. For dog walkers in Toronto, the maximum is 6 dogs at a time. For daycares, while it does depend on the facility and specific dogs, one person watching 20 dogs is going to be risky.

What are your temperament assessments like?

The doggie friends your dog is spending time with at daycare or on walks will have an effect on his/her behaviour at home. If temperament assessments aren’t thorough, or aren’t even done at all, you might want to cross them off the list. An appropriate temperament assessment would tell the staff about your dog’s behaviour around strangers, other dogs, and maybe other stressors (loud sounds, etc).

What kind of behaviour could get a dog ejected?

A dog’s dangerous behaviour should never be tolerated in a daycare or walk environment. If a dog is aggressive or constantly in a state of high arousal, they should be transferred to a more appropriate service. Daycares and walkers should have a specific set of guidelines that regulate when a dog is bumped out of group walks or playtime.

What would you do if…. What is your procedure when….

Some good situations to ask about would be medical emergencies (“do you have a first aid kit?”), dog fights, dog gets loose, and dog “misbehaving”. This last one is particularly important – make sure you check with staff about what kind of dog training they ascribe to. Aversive training techniques, such as leash pops and squirt bottles, can leave you with a dog displaying deep-seated behaviour issues. The only situation where these kinds of methods would be reasonable to use would be in a life-threatening situation (a serious dog fight, or a biting dog that won’t let go).

What kind of training do your staff members receive?

Appropriate staff training is essential. Depending on the service, this could include basic first aid, dog fight interruption, dog body language, and basic behaviour theory. Policies around safety precautions should also be common knowledge to all staff members. For dog walkers, this could include safety straps on leashes, locking carabiners, and double attachment points.

Can I visit your facility?

In the case of groomers and daycares, a clean and tidy facility is a good sign. For daycares, facilities should have enough space for the number of dogs they take on at any one time. Crowded facilities increase the risk of accidents. Dogs should also have appropriate spaces to withdraw from the action if they need to (ex, a crate). Fencing and crates should be secure and free of any sharp edges.

 

While this list is in no way exhaustive, it should give you a good idea of the aspects of service providers that may have an impact on your dog’s behavioural wellness. You may have to shop around a bit for the right fit, but I promise it’s worth it!

(Photo Credit: A Couple of Mutts Dog Walking)

 

About the Author:

Claire is an Associate Instructor with When Hounds Fly Dog Training in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in the dog training world since 2015 and has loved every second of it.

Claire is the founder of Scout Me A Dog, a consulting service dedicated specifically to helping potential dog owners on the breed selection, breeder selection, and purchasing process.

Is my dog playing, bullying, or fighting?

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!

PDF: whf_appropriateplay

PNG: whf_approriateplay

When Can You Start Walking Your Dog Without a Leash?

A question we get a lot here at When Hounds Fly is “when can I start walking my dog off leash?”  It seems like it’s a goal for a lot of people – almost like a sign their dog is well trained, to be able to walk around the city without a leash on.  The answer we always give them?  Never.

We know they mean well, and they’re eager about training their dogs, and training them well, and we love seeing that effort.  But – for those of us living in Toronto (and all city folk) – never is the right answer.

Why is it so important to keep your dog on leash?  Let’s break it down.

What are the potential downsides to having your dog on a leash?

None.  Zip.  Zilch.  Your dog could care less; at least, assuming you’ve trained them to walk well on a leash.

What are the reasons to always have a leash on your dog?

  1. Safety.  You could have the best trained dog in the world, but you just never know.  What if your wonderful, smart dog just one time takes off after a squirrel or a cat and gets hit by a car?  Would you ever forgive yourself?  What if a car backfires and scares your dog, and your dog runs away?  It only takes one time, and no dog is perfect.
  2. In respect of other dogs.  One of the most common reasons we see clients for private lessons is because their dogs are leash reactive; ie. fearful, anxious, or aggressive towards other dogs while they are on leash.  One of the biggest complaints these clients have is that people let their off-leash dogs run up to their on-leash dogs, saying, “don’t worry, my dog is friendly!”  But the fact is, yours may be – but theirs isn’t.  Theirs is scared or aggressive.  And yours is at worst going to get injured (going back to the first point, safety) – potentially then developing their own fear or reactivity – or at best, will remain safe but set that reactive dog’s training that they’ve been working so hard on back.
  3. In respect of other people.  You love dogs.  That’s great; we do too.  But not everyone does.  Some people are scared of dogs, or have allergies, or have religious/cultural beliefs that mean that they don’t want to interact with your dog.  Letting your off leash dog charge up to them is incredibly insensitive.

 

City of Toronto Leash Dog In Public Poster

Leaving leashes off in non-designated areas is just plain selfish.  It might make you feel good and proud of how good your dog is, but your dog doesn’t care, and it is ultimately detrimental to everyone around you.  Want our city to be more dog friendly?  Be a good neighbour with your dog, and keep leashes on unless in off leash areas!

 

 

Why We Refuse to Board and Train

Just this month I was asked by two people (a fellow Karen Pryor Academy trainer, and a Toronto veterinarian) whether I do board and train or whether I had referrals for trainers that did.

My response to them was this:

“Most board and train facilities are terrible and rely on very harsh, physical punishment as their primary training tools. This includes choke chains, prong collars, and definitely shock collar training. This includes a number of popular board and trainers that operate in Toronto out of their homes.”

There are dozens of “dog trainers” operating in the GTA that train owner’s dogs without the owner present. And often enough, cases of abuse come to light. Two examples from recent history include:

Samantha Brown of Lead The Way Sam in Mississauga – Fined $2000 for causing distress to an animal

http://www.torontosun.com/news/torontoandgta/2010/03/03/13099826.html

Craig Wright of FACW K9 of Oshawa – Convincted of Animal Cruelty

http://www.durhamregion.com/news-story/4323863-oshawa-dog-trainer-convicted-of-animal-cruelty/

And the latest to emerge is the alleged cruelty inflicted upon a Toronto dog, White Socks:

justiceforwhitesocks

White Socks’ full story can be read here:

https://www.gofundme.com/uptqes

But in brief, in a mere 8 days of a board and train stay, there is clear visible evidence of:

  • Wounds to the neck area caused by either prong collar or shock collar (both tools were confirmed to be used)
  • Stress-induced colitis – White Socks did not eat for 7 days and was pooping blood
  • Starvation – In a mere 8 days he lost 4 lbs.

 

The owners pulled White Socks out on Day 8 of a 30 day stay and immediately sought veterinary care. Imagine what would have happened if he had remained for the entire 30 days…

For some reason, despite stories from 2010 and 2014 of cases such as those highlighted earlier, people continue to sign up their dogs for lengthy and costly board and train services. My intention in this blog post is to clearly argue why we do not support board and train services, nor offer them.

Board and Trainers Usually Rely on Harsh Physical Aversives

Board and Train services are popular amongst trainers that rely on shock collars and prong collars, because normal human beings that care about the welfare of animals would intervene and stop someone from using these tools on their beloved pet if they were there to bear witness. In a board and train facility, the training is done out of sight, so these trainers can inflict whatever level of aversive they feel necessary to get the job done. In the cases above, dogs suffer severe psychological and physical trauma. Dogs have even died in board and train facilities. Would you send your dog to a place like this where injury or death could occur?

Dog’s Do Not Generalize Well

If the training occurs on a barn or a house somewhere far away, the training done will not automatically translate back into your home, your property, and your neighbourhood. Therefore, the majority of the training should occur in the dog’s home and neighbourhood, which means the majority of the training needs to be done by the owner.

Behaviour Modification is a Lifestyle Change, Not a Procedure

Don’t like the fact your dog pulls on leash? If you walk your dog three times a day, it would only take a week or two of not reinforcing Loose-Leash Walking for all the board and train work to unravel. Your dog barks at strangers? Unless you continue to intervene and follow training protocols, any headway made in a few weeks of board and train will quickly dissipate.

This is why our focus as a dog training school is to teach owners how to train their dogs. It must become second nature to the owners how to reinforce desirable behaviour and become a lifestyle change for long-term behaviour change to occur. A couple of hours of “handover” training done at the end of a board and train is not enough to time for behaviour change in the owner to stick.

In Board and Train, The Dog’s Best Interest Comes Last

If I were taking $3000 from an owner and board and training a dog, I would feel immense pressure to “get the job done” and return a fixed dog. Unfortunately, dogs are not cars, and I cannot accurately predict how much time and effort is required to make improvement. If towards the end of a board and train session, I’ve failed to make good progress, I would feel pressured to rush and push the dog beyond what is appropriate, safe, or humane.

How long does it take to improve behaviour in a dog? The answer is, however long it takes. Board and train puts immense pressure on a trainer, sets expectations for the owner far too high, and the one who suffers for that is the dog.

When we help owners and their dogs, sometimes we see immense improvements in just a week or two (of the owner working daily on their own). In other cases, it’s a process that lasts the entire dog’s life. To impose timeframes and expectations is in conflict with our code of ethics to have the animal’s best interests at heart.

Working With Owners is Reinforcing for Us!

Instructors at When Hounds Fly are dog people for sure – but we’re also into people. Coaching people to become excellent dog trainers, seeing their progress, and hearing firsthand of the improvements they see in their relationships with their dogs – thanks to their own hard work – that’s what motivates us to keep on working.


In summary – board and train? Don’t do it! Most positive reinforcement trainers don’t offer it as a service, for the reasons above. Let us teach you how to train your dog, and you’ll see how it’s not a chore – it’s actually a lot of fun!

 

P.S. – One exception to our board and train rule is at Canine Country Kennels in Barrie, their board and train is done by Katherine Ferger, who is a very experienced Karen Pryor Academy trainer. However, as mentioned in the article, for the benefits to stick, the owners have to learn how to be excellent clicker trainers at home as well.

If Not You, Then Who?

Dear Dog Training Professional:

If I know you’re good, you’ve gotten referrals from me.

I don’t travel far to see clients, and neither do the other trainers here. My general rule of thumb is, if I can’t bike there in 20 minutes from one of our locations, then it’s too far. I have my reasons – carbon footprint (I bike to most of my appointments), spending time helping people and their dogs (not stuck in traffic), amongst others.

As a result, over the last six years, I’ve maintained relationships with dog training professionals across the Toronto area, and this is why we refer people to dog trainers, behaviour consultants, and if appropriate, veterinary behaviourists in North York, Richmond Hill, Mississauga, and beyond.

I attend the same continuing education seminars they attend. They take many of the same online courses I have. They’ve read the same books. They have completed programs with the Pat Miller Academy, Karen Pryor Academy, or Jean Donaldson’s Academy For Dog Trainers.

By what they blog about, post on Facebook, and the education they have, I know they are good. That’s why I refer people to them.

Referrals Gone Wrong

Recently, I referred group class clients of ours to a dog trainer colleague who operates north of the 401 (beyond where we travel for in-home lessons). She provided private lessons in-home for a variety of things, including basic clicker training, and some help getting their dog to be less anxious in busy traffic using basic desensitization and counter-conditioning protocols. Our clients spoke highly of HER services.

I was, however, surprised to hear that when our mutual client’s dog had nipped a stranger entering the house, the colleague who I referred to them said it was beyond her level of expertise and comfort, and instead, referred to ANOTHER trainer with experience with “aggression” issues.

The OTHER trainer told the client that the reason why their dog nipped a stranger in the house is because he is coddled excessively.

… wait just a minute?

The Four Stages of Competence

Why did she (who I will call Dog Trainer Colleague Who Undersells Themselves), who actually HAS this knowledge, second-guess herself and question her own abilities?

Why did she pass off our client to such a Dog Trainer Charlatan? It takes only a small amount of knowledge around learning theory (specifically, associative learning in this case) to know that coddling does not contribute to a dog nipping a stranger in the house.

Why do these Dog Trainer Charlatans have such confidence to take on cases involving fear and aggression, when they are so ignorant of even undergraduate level psychology?

It’s because the more you know, the less you feel you know.

And the less you know, the more likely you are to feel like you know everything.

The Four Stages of Competence is a learning model developed in the 1970s that I frequently think about when learning any new skill. These are definitions both textbook but also with some of my own opinion added in. The stages are:

  1. Unconscious Incompetence – The individual does not understand or know of something, or recognize there is any knowledge deficit. They are blissfully unaware of their own incompetence and as a result are grossly overconfident.
  2. Conscious Incompetence – The individual does not understand something, but is conscious of the fact there is a knowledge and skill deficit. They are aware of their own incompetence and as a result, can self-assess what he or she is capable of doing, or not capable of doing.
  3. Conscious Competence – The individual has acquired the knowledge and skill to perform the tasks in question, but it’s new, so it requires a lot of concentration. It needs to be broken down into small steps as executed, and as a result, not a lot of deviation, experimentation occurs when performing the task.
  4. Unconscious Competence – Mastery achieved through thousands of hours of practice. Tasks can be done effortlessly and because of this, it’s possible for the individual to deviate, experiment, and innovate as they perform their craft.

 

Dog Trainer Charlatan – Has been stuck in Stage 1 for so long, they are blissfully unaware of the fact they are ignorant beyond belief, and BELIEVE they are qualified to help people with dogs with serious issues, and tell people so. They’re totally unaware they are unqualified and basically just making shit up and winging it.

Dog Trainer Colleague Who Undersells Themselves – Is really in Stage 3 or possibly Stage 4, but for whatever reason, is stuck on the self-doubt associated with Stage 2. They know their stuff, but is hesitant because of their mindset or perhaps lack of a support system.

This phenomenon (Underqualified people being overly confident in their ability / Qualified people being under-confident) is actually a *thing* – the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which unskilled persons mistakenly assess their ability to be much higher than it really is. The collary effect – highly skilled persons underestimate their relative competence.

What Does This Mean For Consumers?

If a dog owner has a serious issue on their hands (example: Dog has bitten neighbour, Level 3 bite, puncture) and they contact 5 dog trainers – I’d bet that 3 of these trainers will have sufficient qualifications and skills, and 2 of these trainers will be unskilled charlatans.

The odds of this dog owner ending up one of the unqualified 2 is very high.

The first 3 trainers are the most qualified, but because of their knowledge, they are thoughtful in their self-assessment and may be reluctant to take cases like this because they’ve yet to earn enough CEUs (Continuing Education Units) from seminars on people-directed aggression, or haven’t done their Level 3 workshop yet with Pat Miller, or would want to have an Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB) supervising their consultation, but don’t have one in their network.

The last 2 charlatans are blissfully ignorant – they’ve watched all four seasons of The Dog Whisperer, had some feral dogs growing up and “tamed” them, and don’t know what they don’t even know.

The sad truth of the matter is, based on the cognitive biases of all 5 trainers, it’s likely this dog is going to end up with the least qualified person available to help it. Those that are good enough believe they aren’t good enough, and those that are unqualified think they are qualified.

Charlatans Take Any Dog, All Cases, No Challenge Too Great!

If you are that dog training professional that has invested the time and actually understands concepts like desensitization, associative learning, and abides by frameworks such as Dr. Susan Friedman’s Humane Hierarchy, I’m writing this for YOU.

I respect you may have limits to the types of cases you take on, but you need to understand what happens when you say no.

The consumer (and their dogs) end up with unqualified hacks that employ harsh aversives, flooding, and just downright crappy behaviour modification. In the most frightening cases, they believe they are qualified to help dogs with cognitive and neurological disorders. Here are some examples of their expertise in action:


Over-threshold exposures, many leash corrections (mild but ineffective aversives), flooding (dog forced to stay in area until it is physically exhausted)


Fearful dogs forced outside, any option to flee removed. Flooding and learned helplessness. Sensitization is likely to occur, including new stimulus (children walking on the street may now exhibit a fear response)


Aggressive dogs subjected to triggers at full intensity, then hit with very severe aversives. Aggressive displays suppressed, now strangers get to pet the dog (and get bit in the face since all warning signs have been punished). This trainer may know how to title a dog in Schutzhund, but he has a lot to learn about behaviour modification.

If Not You, Then Who?

If we do not step up and help dogs with fear, anxiety, and aggression issues, dogs with these issues end up with these people. The misguided belief that you need to use aversives to stop aggressive behavior will build momentum, since the only people that end up taking these cases only know how to use flooding and aversives.

Please take a moment to reflect on your own knowledge and skill. Even if you are less experienced, your advice is unlikely to cause harm, whereas the dogs suffering under the hand of these charlatans can end up much worse. Look for mentors, organizations, and your own alumni groups where you can get help when you are stuck, and don’t be afraid to be stuck and get help – it’s the only way you’ll grow.

If you are reading this because you own a dog with a serious problem and you’re looking for a professional to help, I hope this article was helpful as well. For you, I have some videos of what I consider good behaviour modification below.

 

 

Sincerely,

Andre Yeu, CPDT-KA, KPA CTP

 

Examples of Good Behaviour Modification:

Systematic Desensitization and Counter-Conditioning to change a dog’s emotional response to scooters.


Protocol for Relaxation for Fearful Dogs- Using classical conditioning to condition calm feelings on a mat, and bringing that mat to progressively difficult scenarios while remaining under threshold (desensitization/counter-conditioning)


Nail Trims – Using clicker training (operant conditioning, R+ quadrant) to shape a willing nail-trim from this dog that formerly had to be tackled and held wearing leather gauntlets because he bit people trying to cut his nails. All while under threshold.


Dog Reactivity – Engage-Disengage, using clicker training (operant conditioning, R+ quadrant) to train an incompatible behaviour to lunge, pull, and bite other dogs. All while under threshold.

 

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.

 

My Dog Barks at Dogs and People Out The Window

dogs barking at people and dogs through window

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?

dogs barking at people and dogs through 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.