Tag Archives: clicker training

More Than Obedience

A young woman came to me with her German Shepherd, Wheels. At less than a year old, Wheels had already bitten a half dozen times, with increasing severity. Wheels’s owners called up her breeder to seek help and express concern at his behaviour. Her breeder told her, “Wheels just needs to learn to stay and heel, if you teach him better obedience he won’t bite.”

This ill-conceived advice is ineffective, at best. At worst, it’s downright dangerous.

Obedience training is like woodworking: taught properly, it’s enjoyable, enriching, and has some useful results (a pretty table leg, a dog who walks politely).

Behaviour modification is like therapy. The objective is to manage and resolve deep-seated issues like anxiety and depression. Carving a nice table leg is of minimal benefit!

Just as you wouldn’t sit down with your woodworking instructor to talk about past traumas and current struggles, dogs in need of behaviour modification work can’t fully benefit from obedience training. Wheels needed a very different approach.

Understanding the difference between behaviour modification and obedience lies in understanding the mechanisms through which animals learn. Consequences are critical to learning, but we often place too heavy an emphasis on them and don’t fully understand how they function. Consequences are defined by their results – in other words, if you attempt to punish a dog and the dog continues to do the behaviour you intend to stop, you’re not actually punishing the behaviour! Whatever you’re doing as “punishment” – shouting, collar corrections, pinning the dog – is likely scary or painful, yet the dog isn’t making the necessary correlation for it to be an actual punishment.

Obedience training is based heavily in consequences. Obedience training that is enriching and valuable for a dog is based in positive reinforcement, such as dispensing food or toys or providing access to something your dogs wants as a reward. There is no punishment. However obedience training’s value is limited by its specific focus on the dog’s behaviour – whether  to reinforce “good” behaviour or punish ”bad.”

Understanding how behaviour fulfills an emotional need is critical to assessing problem behaviours and assembling an appropriate training plan. All this rests primarily on how associations are formed and, most importantly, understanding this as a largely unconscious and uncontrollable process. Behaviour that is born of emotional turmoil is not behaviour the dog can easily control, and thus is not subject to “obedience training.”

This explains why Wheels can have excellent leash manners when walking down the street with no other dogs around, but when he sees a dog he barks, lunges, and drags his owner down the street and continues to do so even after the other dog is long gone.

Wheels is triggered to an uncomfortable emotional high by the sight of the other dog, and even after the dog is gone his sympathetic nervous system remains engaged in a “fight or flight” response. This leash pulling may look like an obedience issue, but really it’s a much deeper issue.

A woodworking instructor can help you detail your table leg just so, but she can’t help you overcome OCD or an addiction. Woodworking can also be an enjoyable hobby to help you de-stress, but it is not the root of a therapeutic approach. Obedience training can help an owner give their dog valuable structure, but it does not, in and of itself, resolve behaviour problems.

A behaviour consultant, just like a therapist, understands how behaviour is a reflection of an emotional state as well as the intricacies of how that emotional state is reflected in an animal’s behaviour. Just like a therapist recommending woodworking as a hobby, a behaviour consultant may use obedience trained with positive reinforcement as a secondary strategy to get to the emotional root of the problem, but that will not be the sum total of the training.

Rather than focusing on stay and heel with Wheels’s owner, we focused on developing his ability to emotionally self-regulate in the presence of dogs and implemented strategies to help him recover after the turmoil of encountering a dog, creating a relaxed, calm, and positive association, and cultivated a sense of safety. We didn’t punish any “bad” behaviour; instead we got to the root of the problem behaviour through changing Wheels’s emotional state and associations with other dogs.

 

Do you need help with your dog? Let us know!

Smart Socialization Puppy Seminar

“Socialization: That just means having friends over and going to the dog park, right…?”

Think again!

You’ve probably heard about socialization, but do you really know what that means? Often, “common knowledge” approaches to socialization can do more damage than they do good.  Proper socialization is like a ‘behavioural vaccine’ that can protect your puppy from developing a multitude of behaviour problems as an adult.

  • Did you know that this “window of socialization” closes at a very young age?
  • Do you know what are you doing now that might be putting your puppy at risk as an adult?
  • Are you missing critical pieces of the socialization puzzle?

Come learn about Socialization, what it is, what you need to do, and what you need to avoid.

Upcoming Dates:

No planned dates at this time

This is a “people-only” seminar

Are you interested in joining Puppy Socialization Class with your puppy? Click here for more info!

Training for Distractions

The Training for Distractions Program is perfect for your dog if you:

  • Have a dog who is distracted by food/toys/environment, and other dogs and people, but is friendly and is not reactive (see below)
  • Want better reliability and compliance in the face of distractions
  • Want your dog to make better choices without nagging her
  • Want training strategies that are applicable to all distractions

Requirements and Prerequisites:

  • Dogs absolutely must be comfortable with other dogs and humans. This class is not for dogs with social difficulties including: barking, lunging, growling, stiff approaches, snarking/snapping upon greeting a dog, hard stares at dogs, etc. If this describes your dog, please see below for options.
  • This class requires a consistent handler to attend all classes. Pairs of handlers are welcome, but both should come to all classes.
  • Dogs must have had received all puppy vaccinations + Rabies
  • Completion of a foundation program at Scratch and Sniff Canine Services OR an equivalent from another school if owners/dogs have a solid understanding of clicker training and prerequisite behaviours.
  • Owners who have not trained at Scratch and Sniff Canine Services previously will be required to attend a free assessment and Orientation Webinar session prior to class
  • Experience with positive training (both dog and human), and at least an introduction of the following:
        • Zen or Leave it (impulse control around food in hand)
        • Sit (verbal cue or hand signal)
        • Down (verbal cue or hand signal)
        • Stay
        • Loose leash walking basics
        • Hand target/touch

Does your dog have “Big Feelings”? Is she reactive, worried, or intense in her reactions? Check out our Private Training and Behaviour Consulting. If you’re unsure, contact the office to set up a free assessment.

Pricing and Schedule

$260+HST

7 classes, starting Wed Oct 10 2018, 8:30-9:30pm

Oct 10, 17, 24, *Skip Oct 31!*, Nov 7, 14, 21, 28

IMPORTANT! This class will start at 37 Chapel Lane (Oct 10, 17, 24) and will relocate to the new facility at 340 Southgate Dr (Nov 7, 14, 21, 28). There will be no class on Oct 31 due to the facility move.

Make up classes: Make-up sessions are offered at a discounted rate of $30/half hour and must be completed the same week as the class that is missed (subject to private session policy) – this is required only for the first half of the program and option for the second half. This is to ensure that the class runs smoothly for all students.

Book your spot now!

An assessment may be required, free of charge, to ensure this class is suitable. Contact the office with questions.

We are currently experiencing some tech issues that may result in the class not showing as available. Contact the office – there are spaces left in class!


Brain Training Series

All too often, “training the dog” is about dealing with the habits we don’t like. Isn’t it time to train for fun, for enrichment, and for relationship?

The Brain Training Series focuses on increasing your dog’s receptivity to you and capacity to learn in order to work through various stages of difficulty and complexity of FUN tricks and behaviours.

The topics covered will range from perfecting individual training exercises to advanced training concepts, such as cuing, shaping and behaviour chains. Behaviours and concepts will increase in difficulty as you progress through the various Grades of this series.

The Brain Training Series can best be described as a “souped-up tricks class”!

A sneak peak at the behaviours… unroll a carpet, ring a bell, blow bubbles under water, “puppy dog eyes”, karate kicks, jump through a hoop… progress through all the grade levels to learn all this and more!

Schedule

Check back soon!
This class will be an all-levels linear program, no longer open enrolment.

Pre-Requisites

Dogs and owners should:

  • Have basic experience with clicker training
  • Know basic obedience behaviours such as sit, down, stay and a hand target
  • View the Orientation Webinar if you haven’t trained with us before

What’s your prior experience?

  • Graduates of any group program with Scratch and Sniff Canine Services are welcome to join the Brain Training Series.
  • If we’ve worked privately to address fear, reactivity or aggression, or you are concerned about your dog’s behaviour, please contact the office prior to registering.
  • If you’ve taken classes elsewhere, please contact the office prior to purchasing the program to ensure it is right for you.
  • This class requires a consistent handler to attend all classes. Pairs of handlers are welcome, but both should come to all classes.

Pricing

Check back soon!

 

Behaviour Consultation and Private Training

Learn the least invasive, minimally aversive, positive reinforcement-based methods to resolve your dog’s behaviour problems. Learn more about our training, and prepare for your private training, by viewing the free Orientation Webinar!


Behaviour Consultations

Emily, a certified dog behaviour consultant, will guide you through the resolution of your dog’s problem behaviours. Consults include discussion, demonstration and hands-on work with your dog, a completely personalized training plan, and ample resources and follow-up. See below for in-home travel restrictions.

For dogs who:

    • Have bitten or are at risk of biting a person, dog or other animal
    • Show aggressive or reactive displays in response to people, dogs or other animals
    • Panic when left alone/separation anxiety (bark, howl, house soil, drool, destructive chewing when alone)
    • Are fearful, scared or anxious in response to people, dogs or other animals
    • Are fearful, scared or anxious in response to sounds, objects, or storms
    • Are protective/possessive of/aggressive around food, toys, bed, or other objects (resource guarding)
    • Do not like to be touched, handled or groomed
    • Have other similar issues rooted in emotional distress

Private Training for Manners, Obedience and Puppies

Private training for manners and obedience is tailored to your specific needs. We will work on exercises where you need them in daily life with your dog, whether in your home, in the park, or your neighbourhood. Private sessions come complete with notes, handouts and follow-up. See below for in-home travel restrictions.

You are also encouraged to consider group classes, such as the Puppy Socialization and Life Skills programs.

For dogs who:

    • Ignore their owner and will not comply with requests
    • Will not come or stay when asked
    • Jump up to greet people
    • Pull on leash when out for a walk
    • Run out the front door without permission (door dashing)
    • Want to chase inappropriate targets
    • Puppy concerns, including nipping, teething, chewing, house training, crate training, alone training, socialization guidance, problem prevention, etc.

Private Training Services and Pricing

• Initial Session 2hr session 

$185+HST
Purchase Now

After completing this session, you may choose to continue with Single Sessions or the Package of Five. This session must be used within 90 days of purchase. Purchase is required in advance in order to hold session time.

• Package of Five – 5hr total 

$450+HST (Save $50!)
Purchase Now

After completing the Initial Session you are welcome to purchase a Package of Five at a discount.  All five sessions must be completed within six months of payment. Purchase is required in advance in order to hold session time.

• Single session 60min

$100+HST
Purchase Now

After completing the Initial Session you are welcome to purchase Single SessionsThis session must be used within 90 days of purchase. Purchase is required in advance in order to hold session time.

• Puppy Class Add-On 60min 

$80+HST (Save $20!)
Purchase Now *current puppy students only

This session is available exclusively to current students of our Puppy Socialization Class and must be purchased and used before your last puppy class. Purchase is required in advance in order to hold session time.




Behaviour Consultation and Private Training Purchase

  1. Contact the office for the behaviour questionnaire (alert us if you are outside of Guelph if you require in-home training, travel area is limited and fees may apply)
  2. Read Private Session Policy and Private Training FAQ, and view the free Orientation Webinar.
  3. Purchase your session to reserve your appointment booking
  4. Schedule appointments directly with the office

*TravelService Area for dog training in guelph fees apply to a limited distance outside of this service area, contact the office to see if travel to your home is possible. In-school training is always an option.

Please read private session policy prior to payment. This page includes general information, policy, and waiver. The Private Training FAQ addresses frequently asked questions.

Seeing Success

How you define success determines its existence; it doesn’t exist until you learn to see it. Success is critical to dog training, but like the mechanics of training, seeing success is a skill that requires development – both in definition and process. Whether or not a person can acknowledge success and what they expect it to look like has profound implications for the outcome of and commitment to training.

In which scenario is this little person most likely to succeed?

 

Criteria and Success Continue reading Seeing Success

Group Training FAQ

Click the arrow to learn more.

I’ve reviewed the Orientation Webinar and want to register for a group class… how do I do that?

Ensure that you are making the correct class selection, and contact the office if you have any questions. Make your purchase from the online store and start booking your program! You’re welcome to send an EMT to info@scratchandsniff.ca if you prefer that to credit card payments in the store. Cash and cheque payments must be received in person prior to your first class.

When is group training the best option?

Group classes are ideal for dogs who are friendly/tolerant of people and other dogs and require training in manners/obedience. (The only exception is any program where behaviour modification is a primary focus.) There is an assortment of training programs offered at Scratch and Sniff Canine Services. The two foundation programs, Puppy Socialization and Life Skills, run in a “modular” enrolment format and are constantly on the calendar (see below). Students may join these classes at any time. Specialty classes are offered routinely and on a rotating basis. Use the drop-down menu to view more information on the program that most interests you.

How do “Mix and Match”/modular classes work?

Click here for full details on how this unique and flexible enrolment works – including booking, cancellation and puppy class age limits.

When do group classes run?

Foundation group classes run constantly in several time slots each week, Monday/Wednesday/Saturday. Viewing the Orientation Webinar is required in advance of joining class. Specialty Class start dates are specified on each webpage.

What happens when the school is closed?

All scheduled closures, for example holidays and continuing education events, will be blocked off on the schedule and noted on the side menu on the webpage.

If there is an unscheduled closure, for example due to extreme weather or illness on the part of the instructor, individuals affected will be contacted. The unique and flexible enrolment format means you’ll always be able to make up classes.

How do I find out more about a program?

You will find detailed descriptions on each program in the Group Class drop down menu in the side menu bar.

Do you offer a guarantee?

In order to remain in compliance with the CCPDT Code of Ethics, I do not offer a guarantee.  A trainer teaches an owner how to train their dog; thus, asking a trainer for a guarantee isn’t asking for a guarantee on training methods, it’s asking for a guarantee on the one’s own behaviour inasmuch as it affects the dog. A guarantee is simply a marketing tactic – buyer beware!

What is the owner’s role in training?

Your role is invaluable! Your job will be to assure that you understand the information given to you and adhere to the training protocols laid out for you and your dog. The most successful owner is engaged, actively listens and assimilates information, asks lots of on-topic questions and requests clarification when necessary, frequently gives and requests feedback, and is overall an active partner in training. I want to work with you to help you and your dog – your dog and I can’t do it without you!

What methods of training do you use in group classes?

Respect for the dog’s physical, mental and emotional well-being is a top priority in any training at Scratch and Sniff Canine Services. Positive Reinforcement refers to a type of consequence: offering the dog something they want in order to increase the frequency of a behaviour. This is not a bribe because the dog is not shown up-front the “thing” they want. Consequences occur after the behaviour has happened, as opposed to a lure (or “bribe”) which is used in order to prompt a behaviour. Lures have their place, however must be used properly and must be faded out of training as soon as possible.

In class, students will learn how to “shape” behaviour, to properly use and fade a lure, to add a cue (the word “sit” for example), to capture behaviour, to properly reinforce a behaviour and to effectively manage and prevent reinforcement for undesirable behaviours. Rather than resorting to corrections to stop unwanted behaviours, owners will be coached thorough how to effectively teach an incompatible behaviour that will have the added benefit of preventing unwanted behaviours (for example, a dog cannot simultaneously sit and jump). Specific behaviours or issues addressed in each class are detailed on program webpages, found in the drop down menu above.

Sniffer Dogs Program

Scent detection is an up-and-coming sport that’s seen a recent surge in popularity in Canada. The goal is to teach your dog to search for a particular scent, and then alert you to its location. The scent can be hidden anywhere from in one of multiple containers, to an interior room, a vehicle, or the outside of a building. This is a great way to mentally exhaust your dog, and truly learn to appreciate the unique abilities of our dogs.

The training taught in class is similar to what is used to teach working detection dogs, including bed bug dogs, border patrol dogs, conservation dogs, and drug dogs. There are also some similarities to other scent sports, such as tracking and search and rescue.

This is a fantastic way to tire out your pooch, and your dog will love it!

Program Details

$300+ HST, 8 consecutive weeks

Cost includes a Scent Kit.  Maximum FOUR dogs per class.

The next class starts Wed Aug 1st, 8:30-9:30pm

Be sure that you are available for every class and complete your homework. In case of unforeseen circumstances, make-up sessions are offered at a discounted rate of $30/half hour and should be completed the same week as the class that is missed (subject to private session policy).

 Requirements

    • This class requires a consistent handler to attend all classes. Pairs of handlers are welcome, but both should come to all classes.
    • Dogs must not be a risk to people or dogs, and must be comfortable in a group class environment. Dogs with minor social issues may be accepted if the class is suitable to their behavioural needs.
    • Dogs must have received their complete puppy vaccinations and be a minimum of 16 weeks
    • For dogs over 6 months – proof of Rabies vaccination by a veterinarian is required
    • Do not attend with a dog who is sick, including vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, sneezing, lethargy or fever
    • Submitting registration/payment indicates acceptance of the group class policy

Prerequisites: Dogs and owners must have basic clicker training skills as taught in the Puppy Socialization or Life Skills programs.

  • Prerequisite behaviours
    • Hand Target
  • Materials
    • Training supplies as outlined in your handouts.
    • A Scent Kit is included in the cost of the class
    • Students will be required to purchase three identical Tupperware-type containers suitable to the size of their dog. Requirements will be reviewed at the first class.
  • If you have not attended classes at Scratch and Sniff Canine Services, please review the above prerequisite behaviours and contact the office to arrange for a free assessment, and view the free Orientation Webinar prior to starting class.


Click “Continue” to enrol in this class! If you have questions, please contact the office prior to enrolment.