Welcome to my journey! This blog is about my adventures in dog training, pet therapy work, rescue work and life with my menagerie of animals. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Is your canine companion a 'Dog About Town'?

Can your dog watch politely as other dogs walk by? Can your dog pass by another dog and it's owner without coming unglued? Will your dog come to you even though there are some really fun looking geese waddling by? Will your dog lie quietly by your feet as you have a picnic with a friend who also happens to have a dog at their feet? If not don't despair! These are some of the things we at Sidekick Dog Training work on in our new Dogs About Town class. It's a really fun class and this week we will be practicing approaching other dogs and their owners politely as well as learning an important tool… the Emergency U-Turn. This may sound simple enough but have you ever tried to drag your dog one way while they are clambering to go the other way? Not easy right? The Emergency U-Turn is a great tool to have in situations that may be scary for your dog or potentially troublesome, like if there is a loose dog running around. Having your dogs attention even in these circumstances is imperative and that is what we help our students achieve in this class. We are also going to have a "practice picnic". Teaching the dogs to settle when we are seated even with other dogs and food close by helps make your dog a welcome addition around the community.
 As pets become a bigger part of our lives we naturally want to include them in our family activities, but an unruly dog is no fun to be around and makes for a stressful outing. Teaching our dogs polite public behavior can go a long way to keeping them included in the family fun. It can also help keep dogs in their homes rather than being given up as hopeless cases! Training in a fun and positive way increases your bond with your dog and keeps you and your dog engaged in life!
 If you don't think your dog is quite ready to be bombarded with heavy distractions there are many ways to get them ready; private lessons, smaller group classes, etc. whatever you choose you won't be sorry and your dog will be that much happier for it!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Are you having fun with your dog??

In answer to my own title question I would have to say that for the last two months I have NOT been having fun with my dog! I know, bad trainer, bad owner, bad friend! Life gets crazy sometimes and when school started for my children my life was no exception! I have been right out straight for two months. The only time I really spent with Beanie was during training class or pet therapy visits. Sure we live in the same home but my mind was always so preoccupied that it was a miracle I remembered to feed him!! Our training consisted of learning a routine that we were to perform with the other Sidekick trainers, needless to say at times it was very stressful and frustrating. If you've trained dogs for any amount of time (and if you haven't here's a little tip) you know that when you are stressed and frustrated your dog knows it and the whole training session is shot and not fun for either of you. Best case, you just have a poor session, worse case you chip away at your relationship. I should know better, Beanie is so tuned in to me that he shuts down when I get stressed and frustrated in a training session. I learned that early on in our training. We trained at a place he was not comfortable in and where they were trying to have me make him do things he didn't really want (or need) to do (this was NOT with Misti or Sidekick by the way) and so I had to consciously decide to teach him my way, teach him the things I thought were important and lower my expectations so we had success. It worked brilliantly and of course he passed his CGC and his Pet Therapy test! This routine was really straining us, not because it was hard but because I felt it had to be perfect! I have a Pyrenees, not a golden retriever or a german shepherd or a border collie, I am lucky Beanie does any of the stuff he does for me. Somewhere along the way to learning this routine I forgot that. Luckily I remembered in time to salvage our training and make the routine a success, but more importantly I had a wake up call that I need to be gentler to myself and to him and if it's not fun then we shouldn't be doing it or I need to figure out how to make it fun again! That is my responsibility as an owner and as his friend and trusted companion. Fun should be the next best thing in your relationship with your dog, right up there with love and trust! So go hug your dog and play a game, it won't be time wasted!
Here is the video of our routine: