Tag Archives: dog training

The Evidence for Positive Reinforcement Training In Dogs

by Pippa Mattinson, author of Happy Puppy Handbook, Total Recall and The Labrador Handbook.

3255835495_1c6b6a5c7b_oOver the last few decades there has been a huge swing towards less punitive methods of dog training. Watching a modern trainer in action is a very different experience from watching old school traditionalists. Gone are the barked commands, the emphasis on ‘respect’ or ‘dominance’ and even intimidation. In many cases the use of punishment has been entirely replaced by the use of food and games.

Is the move to positive dog training a good thing?

But hang on a moment. Aren’t we being swept along in the latest ‘fad’ or ‘craze’. Isn’t this just a passing fashion?  How are we going to control our dogs when we run out of treats? And what if we don’t want to wave food around or to ‘beg’ or ‘plead’ with our dogs to come when we call them?

In fact, let’s lay it on the line. Do these new fangled methods of dog training even work?

Read on at The Happy Puppy Site …

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Every Trick is Magic–A Chance to Work With Mick and Lisa

Maisie, Mick, and Lisa--Click to visit our Youtube Channel, Mick's Tricks!

Maisie, Mick, and Lisa–Click to visit our Youtube Channel, Mick’s Tricks!

From what I hear, it isn’t enough for a writer to sit around writing alone. You have to force yourself to become an extrovert and network and platform and find ways to reclaim your introverted self in a snap and write in the cobwebby corners of your now extra-hectic life. If you’re like me, and find all that self-promotion queasy and sleazy, you find ways to promote not yourself but other people and passions you share. So I’ve been busy working behind the scenes on The Gloria Sirens, plugging away on Mick’s book, and letting Mick take me out in the world. He’s three now, going on four, and doing well. He’s a big brother to Maisie now, and he’s herding sheep, working his way through agility, counseling foster dogs, and helping me teach tricks at the Upper Suncoast Dog Training Club. With Mick and Maisie’s help, (they are working dogs, you know), I’ve braved the Youtube world, stumbling my way through videotaped tricks training lessons without knowing a thing about framing, lighting, editing, or sound. But it’s going all right (even though all of this is more and more unpaid work, such is the madness of love). I’m doing it because Mick’s tricks saved Mick’s life and I want to share what we learned so that your love for your dog might grow a little more fierce, a little more sweet, and a little sillier too. And we aren’t alone.

Trick Dogs are Cool

Trick Dogs are Cool

Trick training is an easy, convenient way to interact with your dog anywhere, anytime, and all you need are some treats and some know-how. Perhaps your dog is easily bored, or seems a little depressed, or distant. Maybe your dog’s been naughty, or you’ve grown discontent with your relationship for some reason–too much toilet-paper shredding, chronic weave-pole refusal, or a pathological Minecraft addiction (yours or your dog’s).

Maybe you’ve got a service dog and a few tricks would add so much charm. Imagine if your dog could shake a dialysis patient’s hand, give a child with leukemia a high-five, or even pray with patients?! Maybe you have an awesome agility or obedience dog but you’re both getting bored, or strained, or you want something you two can do in the living room without breaking a lamp.

Maybe you have multiple dogs and one’s been neglected. Maybe it’s your new puppy. Maybe it’s your retired agility or herding star, and you’re weary of feeling harried and sad. Well, if you can, shut the other dogs away for a few minutes right now. This is quality time to cherish your friend.

You can earn Tricks titles too. Click and Join us for Free.

You can earn Tricks titles too. Click and Join us for Free.

Get down on the ground and join us for some sweet interaction with your best friend. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned dog trainer, learning some charming tricks together can deepen your bond and soften your soul.

Or even give you some great new ideas and a belly laugh.

All it takes is two- to ten-minute sessions, your call. If you’re worried about overfeeding, you can use your dog’s regular food. If you hate how expensive dog treats have gotten, you can cut up some hotdogs or cheese or even use plain popcorn–stop making excuses and be creative! If your dog isn’t food-motivated, get a new squeak or tug toy and use it just for Tricks training–a special toy for a special time. And you don’t have to go it alone. You can work along with me on the Youtube channel or with other beginners in our Facebook group, Mick’s Tricks Spark Team.

One at a time, please!

One at a time, please!

The point is to share a goal with your dog. You two are in cahoots. Together you’re gonna nail roll over. Or you’re finally going to have a dog that can sit up and beg because it’s so darn cute and makes for great photos. Whatever your heart’s desire, this is one-on-one time. Eye-to-eye, here-and-now time. Low-pressure, high-value happiness time. It’s mindful moments you share with your best friend. It proves to the both of you that you are there–really there–for your dog. It doesn’t matter what the trick is or how quickly your dog learns it. All that matters is joy in your short time together.

That’s why every trick is magic.

Cracking up with Mick and Maisie

Cracking up with Mick and Maisie

You’ve Got A Friend

Seventeen months a shelter dog

Written by Terri Florentino & Mary Sweda

It was a warm night on the 1st of August when the police officer pulled into the parking lot of the local shelter. In the back of the police car there sat quietly an enormous, fawn colored, mastiff. She was an older girl, evident by the gray fur that covered her jowls with eyes so large, dark and soulful it was as if you could see right thru to her soul.

“C’mon old girl,” the police officer stated as he reached in to the back seat of the patrol car to pick up the leash that was already secured to the dogs collar.  “You’re such a good girl, I’m sure someone will be looking for you,” he said as he lured her from the vehicle and took her for a brief walk around. As they approached the overnight holding area for stray dogs the officer bent down next to the gentle giant and stroked his hand across the top of her head, she leaned closer, if just for a moment, appreciating the gentle touch. The officer stood up, put the secure combination into the lock and opened the door of the emergency night drop. “Good luck to you old friend,” he smiled as he led her into the kennel area and secured the door behind him. There she laid in the dark, alone, scared and confused.Maude13

Early the next morning as the sun rose the rays of light found a way to creep between the bars in the window and shine down on the old girl. Those soulful eyes peered up towards the light just as the door flung open. “Well now, what have we got here?” the staff member stated with a smile as she bent down to greet the gentle giant. The dog immediately stood up, stepped back and let out a great big defensive bark.  The young lady backed away, slightly startled by the dogs aggressiveness. “Eeeasy girl, I know you’re scared, settle down, it’ll be OK.”

Maude12

After some yummy treats and gentle persuasion the old dog made her way out of the night drop. She was moved to a secure area within the shelter that is not readily available to the public. There she would wait for her family, who would never come.

The old girl quickly became fond of one staff member in particular, her name’s Cyndy.  She primarily cares for the dogs that are kept in the temporary housing area. She’s patient, caring, gentle and kind. There’s also a devoted volunteer, her name is Marisa. Several times a week she’d come to the shelter to walk, brush and give her treats and love.  “You’ll need a name,” Marisa thought, “How about we call you Maude?” The old girl stood up, leaned into Marisa’s leg, glanced at her with those great big dark eyes and looked as if she had a smile on her face. “OK, Maude it’ll be then.” “What do you think if we call her Maude?” Marisa asked of Cyndy. “I think that’s a perfect name,” Cyndy smiled as she bent over, threw her arms around Maude’s neck and gave her a big squeeze. For the first time since her arrival at the shelter Maude wiggled her bob tail. Cyndy and Marisa laughed in amusement as Maude’s entire back end wiggled to and fro with delight.

 Cyndy with Maude

Maudecyndy

Maude was eventually moved to the adoption area where she quickly gained a fan club of volunteers, yet still no home.

Maude9

One couple in particular, George and Mary visited Maude often. In their own words this is their personal experience with her.

George and Mary,

It was almost a year ago when we first met Maude. We had seen her image posted on Facebook, along with her heartbreaking story.

This became a personal crusade for Mary. 

I was always terrified to enter a shelter. I didn’t think that I could face seeing the homeless animals and feeling that heartache, but her story, that face, those eyes would not let me turn away.  I also remembered what my brother Nick always said, “It’s not about you Mary, it’s about those less fortunate. The sadness and discomfort you feel for a short time will be temporary, nothing compared to the joy you can bring them each time you visit”.

So, I showed George her photo, and off we went.  When I first met Maude, she was in the main area of the shelter with the other dogs. I was able to walk right into her cage and hug her. She didn’t resist one bit, and I didn’t want to let her go. Since that day, George and I visited her 3 to 4 times a week. She was always so loving, such a snuggler!  Maude had such a goofy side…dropping and rolling with no warning on walks…really funny expressions..and boy she could be stubborn! She always cracked us up!  What a joy! For George, he made a best friend, he fell in love.  No matter how hectic his schedule, he made time for Maude nearly every Saturday and Sunday. He treasured his time with her…we both did.  It tore us apart not to take her with us every time we visited. However, Maude needed to go to a home absent of other animals and their two labs made that a practical impossibility.

Mary and George with Maude

Maude6

 

Maudegeorge

In the meantime,

A joint in her right front leg was swollen; it was causing her paw to curve to the right. She’d been this way since she was dropped off at the shelter.  “We’ll need to have her leg evaluated by a veterinarian,” advised the executive director of the shelter, so an appointment was made. We feared the worse, praying she did not have cancer. An x-ray, biopsy and bloodwork were performed. Thankfully her bloodwork was normal, the x-ray showed severe malformation to the right carpus and the biopsy concluded that no cancer was present. In fact under the microscopic interpretation new bone formation was present. Perhaps she was injured? We’ll never know for sure. We’re all elated that she didn’t have cancer.

Maude11

 Prayers were answered!

We prayed for that one person out there to give her the home she deserved.  Finally it happened.  Ed, the executive director gave us the call that she would be going home…sooner than we thought or were prepared for.  And we both cried…happy for her, so sad for us.  She had become like our own. But we knew it was for the best…and now she is the one and only with a great new family. She was always loved at the Griffin Pond Animal Shelter, but now she has a home of her own.

Maude with her new family

Maude8

Maude3

The gift,

Maude has given us a gift…she has led us to what is now such an important part of our lives…The Griffin Pond Animal Shelter.  We just walked several beauties this past Sunday, they all with their own  stories.  But no matter how sweet, no matter how many, there will never be another Maude.  She will be forever in our hearts.Maude10

The Moyer Menagerie, Part 3

Just Like A Feral Cat

By Terri Florentino

It was evening by the time Tillie and I pulled into my driveway. I would introduce my pack one at a time after Tillie and I had some time alone to take a walk and get better acquainted. I opened the back of my truck to find the little pup cowered in the back of the crate, trembling so badly her teeth were chattering. I wasn’t sure if she might react fearfully and attempt to bite, so I moved slowly as I reached into the crate. She continued to quiver as I clipped the leash onto her collar as she turned into a tiny ball in an attempt to make herself as small as possible. I couldn’t recall ever dealing with a dog that was as petrified as this little girl. It was a good thing I had a secure hold on the leash, as I picked her up out of the crate and gently placed her on the ground she immediately defaulted to her flight drive and attempted to scurry away. Her social skills, at best, were similar to that of a feral cat. I attached a 30ft line to her collar hoping some distance between the two of us might help her to relax and feel less threatened. There was almost never any tension on the line, 30ft wasn’t even enough to take off the edge. I decided to let my dog Scout out for a meet and greet. He was such a gentle soul, I Continue reading

Gracie – Our Life’s Journey

Trialing With Grace

By Judy Bonner

Gracie and I recently competed in the first east coast and the second in the country fully sanctioned NACSWTM  K9 Nose Work® Level 1 Element Specialty trials hosted by Sarah Woodruff of Paws N’ Sniff in Stroudsburg PA.

The Level 1 Interior Element Specialty trial was in the morning and the Level 1 Container Element Specialty trial was set to run in the afternoon.  I registered both dogs, Gracie and Banner, in both trials.  Gracie and Banner were both Continue reading

The Moyer Menagerie, Part 2

Luke, Fly & Tillie

Pam was barely able to speak in between her sobs. “Luke needs to have his eye removed. It’s swollen and painful.” The veterinarian had told her that he had cancer in his spleen that had gone to his brain. “I’m not convinced the cancer is anywhere but in his eye though, and I’d like to go for a second opinion and quickly. Can you recommend another doctor?” Continue reading

Mad About BCs

Four New Titles – AKC Agility 

 August 16-17, 2008
Another AKC Agility trial at New Hope Farms in Port Jervis, NY, this time hosted by Monticello Kennel Club…my favorite site, 19 miles from home :-)Token & Dandy both did well, with Dandy bringing home the most ribbons. Token qualified both days in Open FAST to finish hisOpen FAST title! We had a couple of rough runs & a couple of good ones with minor errors in Open JWW & Excellent Standard. So he came home with 2 Q’s and 2 Blue ribbons.
Dandy qualified in 5 out of his 6 classes, and finished 3 titles. He finished his Open Standard title with a 3rd place on Saturday (we had a wrong course, but still qualified) and made his debut in Excellent Standard on Sunday…a wrong course at a dogwalk/tunnel discrimination, but the rest was beautiful! I was already at the next obstacle by the time he finished the weaves, and also while he completed the Aframe, it was so cool to be able to handle him with the independent obstacle performance.
He finished his Novice FAST title with a 2nd place on Saturday, and got his first leg in Open FAST with a 1st place on Sunday! He qualified both days in Open JWW, with a 3rd place (a refusal since I momentarily forgot the course) and a 1st place, and finished his Open JWW title!

It’s tough running the two of them, I either have ring conflicts, or just a few dogs in between them…but all in all, a good weekend with a few Q’s, a few titles, and lots of fun runs.

September 5-7, 2008 – New USDAA Titles!

September brought us another 3-day 3-ring USDAA Agility Trial at the Blackthorne in East Durham, NY, hosted by Y Agility. Despite some heat & humidity, rain & wind, we managed to have a rather successful weekend.

Token did some nice work in his Masters classes, though not without the usual glitches & bobbles. He did qualify in Friday’s Master Gamblers with a 3rd place. And in Sunday’s Masters Standard class, he qualified with a 2nd place in a large competive 26″ class. The 186 yard course had a standard course time of 58 seconds, and Token ran it cleanly in 41.39 seconds. This was his 5th Q in Masters Standard, finishing his SAM (Standard Agility Master) title.
Dandy had a very busy weekend in the Advanced classes, and did an amazing job. He was in 4 classes on Friday, 5 on Saturday & 3 on Sunday. That’s asking alot of a young dog who just turned 22 months old today! But he rose to the occassion. We didn’t qualify in Advanced Gamblers or Jumpers due to one or two errors in each. But he qualified in both Advanced Snooker classes, earning a 1st place & a 2nd place, and finished his AS (Advanced Snooker) title. We ran Advanced Pairs with a fellow flyball enthusiast, a Dutch Shepherd named Brink, and we qualified with a 2nd place (missed 1st place by 0.03 seconds ). I entered Dandy in his first ever Grand Prix, just to see how he’d do on a more difficult course, and while he did not qualify, he only had 10 faults (missed weave entry, and one bar down). Other than those 2 errors, he ran beautifully, and I was very pleased with his run!
Dandy’s big news of the weekend is that he qualified all 3 days in Advanced Standard, all First Places, to finish his AAD (Advanced Agility Dog) title!
So Dandy will now be running in Masters along with his dad Token! I have no great expectations and will not be putting pressure on him to qualify, we are just ready to take our training to the next level and continue our journey. The building of skills is just beginning with Dandy, and it is a work in progress with Token; between training the dogs and improving MY handling skills, we always have things to work on…but that’s what keeps it interesting! 🙂

Dandy Joins Token in Masters!

On Sunday, September 14, 2008, we went to a USDAA trial in Honey Brook, PA, hosted by Flexible Flyers. It turned out to be about THE hottest day of the year…in the 90’s and so humid…I no sooner got there at 7:45 am (after leaving the house at 5am) and I started to think I should have stayed home. But this was a moment in personal history…it was the first time for me running both Token and his son Dandy in Masters in USDAA. They were both entered in the 26″ class so I only had a handful of dogs in between. Token ran first so Dandy had the benefit of my working out the glitches on Token’s run. First class was Masters Standard, and it was a tough one. Again, maybe I should have stayed home There were multiple handling options in several spots on the course so I was having a tough time deciding how to handle it.
Token was up first, and he really did a wonderful job…we didn’t qualify due to one refusal at a jump that I should have supported just a little bit more…but he did his job beautifully, and with 5 faults he still managed a 4th place. Several dogs later, and I’m up with Dandy. I knew what worked with Token, so I kept my plan the same except to make sure I supported that one jump enough. I also had Dandy hold his contacts and I kept the run conservative. Over the last jump, and we were clean! Dandy’s first time in Masters, and he qualified in Standard!!! I was so proud of him!!! And the icing on the cake: Dandy took 1st place in 26″! Even with our conservative approach, he was 10 seconds under standard course time.
My first time running Dandy & Token in the same class, and even though I only got the Q with Dandy, both father & son were in the placements 🙂
Next was Master Pairs. Dandy broke his stay for the first time, to my shock & surprise 😉 and we got a refusal…But we had a very experienced partner who ran clean, and Dandy earned a Q in Pairs with a 3rd place! Token’s run is one we’re not talking about 😉
Jumpers was the last class of the day, and we were all fried from the heat & humidity. I sent Dandy off course (my brain was VERY fried!), and Token knocked just one bar. So close yet so far 😉
Next trial…USDAA September 27-28…I can’t wait! These two dogs are such fun to run!

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