Friday, March 20, 2015

Fun Agility Class in Milton Ontario

Do you want to have some fun with your dog, and gain focus and confidence from them? Check out our Fun Agility Intro Class starting April 18th, 11:30-12:30. Class runs for 6, one hour sessions. Cost is $195 plus HST.

We do require that the dogs who join are non-aggressive and have a basic understanding of sit, down, stay and come under distration. This class offers a wonderful way to work both the dogs mind and body, and a tired dog is a happy dog with a happy owner.

We see a lot of fantastic changes in this class from both dogs and owners. This is a postive reinforcement based class, with emphasis on engagement and fun.

Feel free to contact me for more information or visit the website for details

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Holding a Sit ... Dog & Puppy Training in Milton Ontario

I am often asked by my clients, is it ok to let their dog lay down during a sit/stay or long sit. And the answer I give is this:

If you plan on competing in obedience, rally-o or protection sports, then there are specific requirements that would make it beneficial for the dog to hold the sit position. If they don't or can't, an NQ (non-qualifying score) will follow in competition, resulting in failure during that particular run.

Now that being said, 98% of the owners coming in for training will never show an interest in competing in dog sports. What I maintain to be the most important aspect of staying is holding the place, rather than the specific position. If I ask a dog to sit, and they do so, but after 20 seconds or longer, they decide to lay down because the dog figures we're going to be a while, there is no point in nagging them for perfection, when in essence, they are doing what we asked, by holding their place beside us. The same thing goes for the sit/stay at a distance. As long as the dog comprehends the initial difference between the two commands, down and sit, and does both independently when asked, it doesn't matter if they slide out to get more comfortable.

There are two items that we have to watch however, one being the "dive and go", the squigglers who were asked to sit/stay, and do the dive in order to crawl forward. The other being the confusion of commands at the get go. We don't want sit to mean down, as there are times that a sit can be more useful then a down, and we want to make sure that the two are clearly defined. These are the only times that I will fix a dogs position back to a sit, and typically it just means the dog needs more work/help in that particular area.

Of course standing up is a big no no, and I'm sticky on the getting up into a sit while the dog is suppose to be maintaining a down, I just won't allow that, but I will save that for another day.

So bottom line, if your plans do not include compeition level obedience, don't sweat the small stuff. If your dog is compliant, engaging and working for you, response should be the goal, not absolute perfection.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Why isn't my dog perfect? Dog Training Milton Ontario

Perfection, as defined in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary:

1:  the quality or state of being perfect: as
     a :  freedom from fault or defect :  flawlessness
     b :  maturity
     c :  the quality or state of being saintly 
2   a :  an exemplification of supreme excellence
     b :  an unsurpassable degree of accuracy or excellence 
So, let's ask the question again; why isn't my dog perfect?
Well, to answer honestly we, as humans are not perfect, so I often wonder why so many desire supreme perfection from their canine companions. To say we want perfect dogs is a flawed statement. A better ideal to strive for is "I want the perfect dog for me". The difference in the wording is this; the perfect dog for me will still have flaws, but I can live with and tolerate those flaws because the dog fits my lifestyle, family and goals so well. 
Because each dog is different, has a unique temperament, a different learning curve and different physical abilities, we need to understand that perfection is impossible, but finding or achieving the perfect dog for me is not impossible.

In pushing our dogs to meet the definition of perfection (supreme excellence, without fault or defect), we loose sight of relationship, which is so much higher on the ladder of importance when dealing with our family dogs. Pushing for perfection in your dogs ultimately sets you up for failure, because there is no such thing as a perfect dog. Stress ensues and relationships breakdown. When the relationship breaks down you loose communication and trust which, in turn, will put a damper on any forward momentum in your training.
So instead of focusing on trying to make your dog perfect, as in free from fault or defect, focus on the relationship, the good points, and of course, make sure to train your dog which increases communication ability, and developes a better bond. Not only will this help build a better, healthier relationship, but it will help shape the perfect dog for you.

Note: This is not the same as perfect scores in dog sports, but building a better relationship, and minimizing the intense desire to acheive absolute perfection in your dog can actually help performance scores - think stress relief.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Dog Training Obedience Classes in Milton

Our Smart Dogs Basic Group Class starting in April is now open for registration!

Basic (Beginner) Obedience:

April 18th Saturday - 10:00-11:00am (7 spots available)
April 23 Thursday - 7:00-8:00pm (7 spots available)

Smart Dogs Basics

Smart Dog Basics group class will help teach you how to gain control of your canine companion under distraction with all of the basics of obedience - come, stay, sit, down, stand, heel, leave it, off. We work on engagement with your dog, focus and attention, and we offer the only video homework options in our area! We also save time for question and answer including topics like house training, crate training and other "typical doggy issues". We want our students to succeed.

This is A MUST for all dogs, the most important class that you need to take! If you want a dog who listens to you, responds under distraction, and is a joy to be around, this is the class you want. This is a one size fits all class, all ages, all breeds and all sizes welcome!

  • 18 weeks and up - puppies must have their vaccinations completed.
  • Homework is required to be completed.
  • Equipment required: 6 foot leash, training collar and treats.
  • Prerequisite: None
  • $220.00 + HST -  1 session once a week for 7 weeks - 1 hour for each session. The test is optional but MUST be passed in order to receive a certificate and move on to Bootcamp Class.
Please contact us for more information or to sign up. $50.00 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your spot.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

R+C+R+C = R : the formula for a good dog

The secret to creating a good dog is a simple formula; R+C+R+C=R. And what, might you ask, does this formula stand for? Is it scientific? Is it math? Does it make the magic powder that, when applied, creates a well behaved dog?

Unfortunately, it is a formula that requires work as, to my knowledge, there are no magic powders that have been developed (yet). The formula requires dedication, and diligence, but when applied, can help to achieve the dog that you’ve always wanted.

So what do the letters stand for? Well, they stand for four of the most important components to canine ownership.

I will go over them in order, and expand upon their meaning, so that you can start to implement the formula in your daily life with your dogs.

R – Relationship

You need to build a relationship with your dog, but this doesn’t mean constantly showering them with affection and attention. This means doing things with your dog, spending time with them in meaningful, constructive ways. Take your dog for a walk, or a hike, play fetch or tug with your dog, incorporate training in all aspects of their life, regardless of how you train or what methods that you use.  Work on engagement and focus skills, make yourself interesting and important for your dog. Teach your dog tricks, teach your dog to fetch you a beer or a bottle of wine. Spend time just being with your dog, even if it’s a lazy Sunday, and you’re watching a movie, or you just want to hang out on the park bench for a while and watch the seagulls fight amongst each other. Teach your dog that the relationship matters. If you don’t have a relationship, you will never move forward with training. With certain dogs, and certain temperaments, it may take a longer period to build that relationship. With other dogs, it takes all of 10 minutes to put the first blocks of the relationship together. What ever type of dog you have, keep at it, and keep at it for the rest of your dog’s life. Trust me, your dog will thank you.

C – Consistency

Consistency is something I tend to force feed my clients. If you are not consistent, your dog will not understand what is expected of him/her. This goes for both obedience training (or what ever type of training that you do with your dog) and every day life rules.

This first example is in regards to simple, every day life rules. If you allow your dog to jump on you when you’re wearing a shirt that you used to change the oil in your car, but then get mad at him/her for jumping on you while you’re wearing your fancy duds on the way out for dinner, and then go back to allowing jumping when you’re lounging around in your sweat suit after a hard day at work, you are being unclear and inconsistent. The dog doesn’t know the difference between your outfits, nor do they care if you are on your way out to impress your new lady or man friend. You are setting them up for failure and confusion by your inconsistency. If you do not want your dog to jump, do not allow it period, regardless of what you decide with be your outfit for the day.

This second example is in regards to obedience training. If you are working on the stay, for instance, and you are strict with your rules on Tuesday and require that your dog must wait for your release in order to get up, but for some reason, you are lax in your requirements on Wednesday, and allow the dog to decide when they will move from the stay, you are sending the wrong, unclear, inconsistent message. If you want your dog to have a solid stay, you must be consistent in the rules for your training, not wishy washy just because you don’t have the patience on a certain day, or the kids are demanding dinner while you practice, or your dog fetched you too many beers the night before. Be consistent and clear, that is the only way to be fair and ensure your dog will understand what is being asked of him/her.

R – Rules

Ah yes, the word that some shy away from and even revolt against. The word that “requires”. The word that creates order and clarity of behaviour. Rules for your dog are VERY important for them to become acceptable members of society. Sure, we can let dogs be dogs, but we can’t let them be dogs without some clear lines that they shouldn’t cross. If you make a rule, stick to it if you want your dog to follow it (remember, consistency). If you decide that you’d prefer your dog not be on the sofa, then make it a clear rule. If you’d prefer that your dog did not jump on guests (which is preferred), then be ready to enforce it. If you’ve decided that you’d rather your dog not fly out the front door every time it opens, make sure you make it very clear to your dog. If you want to teach the dog that it’s actually your house, and not theirs (no matter how much they try and convince you that they make the mortgage payments), require that your dog work for you. There is lot’s of other fair and clear rules that you can set in place to help your dog become the best they can be. Dogs like to know where they stand, and what they can and can not get away with, so help them understand by implementing rules that suit your lifestyle. Without rules, chaos ensues, and chaos breeds stress, fear, frustration and anxiety.

C – Consequences

Now, some will look at the above word and automatically think something negative. This is definitely not the case here. A consequence can be either negative or positive, depending on what you are trying to achieve. A positive consequence can be an addition of a reward, or removal of pressure. A negative consequence can be an addition of a correction or a removal of a reward. When teaching and working with your dog, there should be a balance of consequences, though not all dogs are alike or require the same type of consequences. Some dogs work better with addition of reward, others work better with removal of pressure, and others still will do great with both. There should be a consequence to your dogs behaviour, positive to increase the good things, and negative to decrease the not so good things. Some sort of consequence should be in place in order to clearly let the dog know that they are doing a great job, or that they are breaking one of your rules. If you have clear, consistent consequences your dogs will learn faster and achieve more understanding during their training and every day life.

R+C+R+C does equal something very important. It equals …


Now, respect must run both ways, dog to human, and human to dog, but if you apply the above, you will most certainly earn your dogs respect, and respect is what keeps a relationship healthy and thriving. Respect is also what keeps your dog following the rules and helps to maintain any training that you put in.

Simple stuff. And keep it simple. Don’t over complicate, be clear, be fair, be consistent and be present. I hope this helps you to enjoy your dog in a more meaningful, healthy way.

*Please note: this article should in no way replace proper training of your dog, and if you are experiencing any behavioural issues, please consult a professional in your area.

© Smart Dogs Canine Training 2015 – no part of this article can be reproduced without written permission

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Are you exciting enough for your puppy? Puppy Training in Milton

 New puppies are so very exciting. They bring a whole new dynamic to a household, not to mention a whole new level of entertainment. Unfortunately, often we, as owners, are not exciting enough to ebb any interest out of our pups after the first couple weeks of ownership. It's usually around the time that the puppies realize they actually have a mind of their own, and don't necessarily have to trail us around and hang on our every word. This is often the time that new owners get frustrated because their pups have tuned them out, and are making their own decisions, good or bad, instead of listening to mom or dad (sounds familier if you have kids).

The problem tends to be a lack of interest in us, a lack of engagement, and owners pushing the pups into too much distraction, expecting the pup to be right on point with the owner, without laying any good ground work.

As with all dog training, we need to start with as little distraction as possible, and build the pup up from there. Yes, it is extremely important to get your puppies out and socialized with many new places, people and things. However, to expect your pup not to pull you in these socialization situations, to listen intently to your every word, and to put you above all else in the environment, is setting yourself and your pup up for failure if you haven't done the ground work.

And what is ground work, you might ask? Ground work is the intial stages of training to teach your pup that you are something interesting, you are something rewarding, and you are fun. It doesn't have to start with sit, down and stay. You can start with simple steps of teaching your pup their name and attention, and meal time is the perfect time for this. Utilizing LOTS of movement, rewarding attention with food, being fun and rewarding name response are great ways of teaching your pup to interact and engage with you. You can work on such things as following a lure to circle around, luring simple sits and downs, luring the pup onto pillows, teaching the pup to follow you and stay focused. Make your releases fun, rewarding and attention grabbing. Capturing attention and rewarding is key in gaining a dog who wants to pay attention to you, rather than you having to beg them to.

When you see your pup start to click at home, you can start moving your training around so that the pup understands that it's good to pay attention to you where ever they are. If you started in the kitchen, move your work to the living room or basement. If weather permits, the backyard works well for a next step up. When you see that you've got your pups focus in the backyard, you can try the front sidewalk, the park at a distance from activities etc.

Typically this type of training is limited to simple and quick training sessions, but it can also be VERY useful in real life, distracting situations with young puppies. It helps to teach and reinforce that you are better than the dog across the road, you are more fun than the bunny that just ran in front of them, you are more engaging than the neighbour down the street and you are more exciting than the gum on the sidewalk.

With young puppies, namely those under the age of 18 weeks, training should be lots of fun, and very rewarding in order to keep them coming back for more, and the oppostunity to engage your pup is just that. It also allows for a great introduction to simple obedience commands, the process of luring and/or shaping and starts the relationship off on the right foot. It can be started as soon as your pup is comfortably settled in your home, and can be utilized throughout your dogs life.

Remember, keep it fun, keep moving and keep it rewarding and your pup will be begging you for more!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Indoor Activities to Get Your Dog Through the Cold Days - Dog Trainer Milton

Well the cold snap is back again, and there are lots of times in the extreme cold that we do not want to take our dogs out long. So what do do about exercise?

There are many different ways to keep your dog active over the winter months, indoors, large or small.
Number one is practice the training you have started with your dog - set aside 10-20 minutes and go over your sits, downs, stays, comes and heeling. Work on perfecting it under low distraction in your home. When you work your dogs mind alongside their body, they use more energy, feel more satisfied, and I always note that when you do "mind work" in addition to body work, the dogs get way more of a workout.

Number two, teach your dog some new commands and/or tricks. Anything they can learn, no matter how silly it may seem, will benefit your canine companion in both the communication and brain work department. Use their meals as the perfect time to teach new things - get them working for their supper!

Number three, and an awesome one I play frequently, teach your dog to "find". This is a great game if you don't have an area to play fetch in your house. The dog can be either toy or food motivated. Start by having someone hold the dog , or put them in a sit stay, and hide a toy as they watch. Upon release, tell them to "find it". Repeat this process multiple times until the dog catches on to the meaning of the command. Once they do, have them stay or be held in another room or out of view. Hide the toy or treat, go back to them, release and tell them to "find it". You can help if they get stumped. This is a great game for both mind and body work, and fun, fun, fun for drivey dogs.

Number four, if you have the space for fetch, bows the time to teach them in a controlled setting to "fetch" and "give". If your dog isn't a natural fetcher, start on leash . With this game, and with the below game, your dog needs to be taught a proper "give " or "drop it".

And number five, tug! Yes, I said it, and don't believe those that would refrain from having your dog play tug. It's a great game, and can be used to teach self control. Rules need to be implemented, and as above, your dog needs to be taught a solid "give" or "out" before fully engaging, and they should be able to show some self control without re-biting when you've paused. Patience is key, you can work the trade off (tug for treat or other toy), when teaching "give", or you can work the statue (hold very still, with tug against your body, hands on both sides, wait for release, then reward). Key is to be fun while engaging and calm when teaching the "give". This game still offers both mind and body work, gets the heart rate up, and you can throw some obedience or tricks into the game.

There are other ways to keep your dog active is the freezing whether, but these are our favourites that we wanted to share.

Most importantly, Have fun with your dogs!!