Tag Archives: dog training

All Ages Life Skills – Program Options

Our popular Life Skills program is now offered in multiple formats! This program is perfect for puppies, new dogs, adolescents, and new adoptions. We cover all “the basics” of manners training and easier living with your dog! You can find full content details on each program webpage.

Virtual Life Skills

Virtual Life Skills is perfect for pandemic safety, for those living outside of Guelph, and owners with hectic or unpredictable schedules! Get started on-demand and receive personal feedback on your training for the duration of the 8-week program.

In-Person Life Skills

In-Person Life Skills is great for those living in or near Guelph who enjoy the accountability that comes with a in-person, weekly interaction, and whose schedule allows for consecutive classes for this six-week program.

Puppy Party: Socialization & Play Group Drop-off

THIS is what you get to bring home from a Puppy Party!

A Puppy Party: Socialization & Play Drop-off is the ideal way to socialize your puppy while social distancing!

Drop your pup off at our door, and we’ll take your puppy for 90min of play, fun, socialization, confidence building and more. At the end of the Puppy Party, come back to our door for a no-contact pick up of your zonked out puppy.

Wondering about letting your 8wk old pup out to play? Check out this position statement from the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behaviour.

The Details:

  • For puppies to start between 8-18wks, until they age out of the program (dependant on size, development, and play skills)
  • Puppies must:
    • be up-to-date on age-appropriate vaccinations
    • be appropriately dewormed
    • have appropriate documentation, as outlined below
    • have been adopted/home at least 7 days prior to the Puppy Party

Important Health Requirement:

Before your puppy can attend her first Puppy Party, health documentation is STRICTLY required. The following must be in place:

  • Vaccination of at least ONE set of age appropriate vaccines, including Parvo-Distemper
  • Deworming

We can accept the following forms of documentation:

  • A clear photo or scan of your puppy’s vet papers, showing vaccination and deworming
  • An email from your local vet clinic stating that your puppy has received the above

Take note that if this isn’t received prior to your first Puppy Party, your puppy will not be able to attend and credit cannot be transferred.

Pricing

Standard Pricing: $30+HST per session

SPECIAL DISCOUNT for puppies in our training classes: $20+HST per session
Join the All-Ages Life Skills Program, or Private Training to access this discount! (Discounts cannot be applied retroactively)

Register Here!

Follow the below steps to register for Puppy Parties!

  1. Email the required Health Documentation (above) to the office.
  2. Book your Play Group below!
    If there are two groups available:
    – For SHY or SMALL puppies: Book the EARLY group
    – For BOLD or LARGE puppies: Book the LATER group
    Your puppy may need to be moved between groups depending on the other puppies present in each
    – If your group isn’t on the schedule, contact the office
  3. Send payment via email money transfer to complete registration. Your booking is tentative until payment is received.
  4. Check your email for instructions.

Book Your Puppy Party!

If a party is full contact the office to be put on the waitlist!

VIRTUAL All-Ages Life Skills

Dog training in the age of Social Distancing…
it CAN be done!

The COVID-19 pandemic has created lots of barriers in our lives, but luckily we can achieve the same great training results with the wonders of modern technology!

Virtual Life Skills is an all-ages manners and obedience program, appropriate for puppies and adult dogs alike – with the BONUS All Things Puppy Classroom for puppies under 6mo!

Who says learning can’t happen on the couch?

We will cover topics including:

  • Come when called
  • Settle and stay on a mat
  • Polite leash walking
  • Dealing with distractions
  • Polite greetings with people
  • Prevent running out the front door
  • Impulse control around food
  • Preventing “Counter surfing”
  • And more!

See what students say about virtual training!

How Does Virtual Training Work?

Using a virtual classroom called Google Classrooms, you will be guided through training exercises with video demonstrations, verbal descriptions and written instructions. You will also receive entirely personalized feedback on your training from your instructor! This is NOT just a video tutorial.

Each exercise is broken down into easy-to-follow steps, and you will receive personalized support and guidance as you train your dog.

  • Train at your own pace and on your own schedule
  • Join class any time
  • Eight weeks access to dynamic content and personal guidance and training support
  • Access to the handy reference manual after your program is completed which includes written and video instructions for all training exercises

Technology requirements are:

  • A basic understanding of computer/internet use, including recording a video
  • Internet capacity that allows for watching and uploading videos
  • A computer, phone or tablet that:
    • Has a microphone
    • Has a camera
    • Can connect to the internet

Read the FAQ for more important details

The All Things Puppy Classroom!

Puppy students get a special discount on Puppy Parties: Socialization and Play Group Drop-off! Click the link for more info!

Puppy students receive FREE access to the All Things Puppy Classroom for information on socialization and problem prevention that is specific to puppies – including guidance on nipping, house training, crate training and more!

Want to try out Google Classroom?

You’re welcome to access the test classroom and familiarize yourself with how the platform works. Simply:

Watch this demo of Virtual Life Skills!
(Note: the platform and content is the same, however now you can progress through at your own pace. This video will be updated to reflect this shortly!)

Register for Virtual Life Skills!

This program is not interchangeable with the in-person Life Skills Program. You cannot transfer between programs after registration.

$239+HST

Start on demand!

IN-PERSON All-Ages Life Skills

Life Skills is an all-ages manners and obedience program, appropriate for puppies, adolescents and adult dogs alike.

We will cover topics such as:

  • Come when called
  • Settle and stay on a mat
  • Polite leash walking
  • Dealing with distractions
  • Polite greetings with people
  • Prevent running out the front door
  • Impulse control around food
  • Prevent “Counter surfing”
  • And more!

What you get…

  • Orientation Webinar to watch before getting started
  • Six weekly group classes with a flexible start date
  • Life Skills Online Resource Classroom including videos of training exercises and bonus material
  • If there is a COVID related closure, illness or quarantine, you will be transferred directly to Virtual Life Skills to seamlessly complete the program!

Puppies! You get all of the above PLUS:

  • Access to the All Things Puppy Classroom for quick answers on common puppy issues, such as house training, nipping, crate training and more
  • Puppy Play & Socialization A 30% discount on the Puppy Party: Socialization and Play Drop-off

Flexible Start Date

You can start class any time space is available!

  1. Submit the registration form below and specify your preferred class day
  2. Once your start date is selected, submit payment within 24hrs to confirm your spot
  3. Attend SIX consecutive weeks of in-person training classes with your dog

COVID-19 Precautions

  • Masks that cover the nose/mouth and without vents are strictly mandatory when indoors and sanitizer is provided, as directed by WDG Public Health. No vented masks or bandanas.
  • Small group class size and limited attendance
  • Frequent cleaning and disinfection of the premises
  • Social/Physical Distancing in effect
  • Puppy Party Drop-offs prevent contact between owners while maintaining socialization benefits for your puppy. Drop off your pup, play and socialization will be managed by your trainer, and you bring home a tired puppy!
  • In the event of a COVID-related closure, illness, or quarantine that prevents either the running or attendance of in-person classes, all students will immediately transition seamlessly into the Virtual Life Skills Program to complete their program in an online format including personal feedback and guidance.

What you need to know:

For more information, read the Group Class FAQs:

  • Masks are mandatory, and must cover the nose and mouth, no vents or bandanas. Virtual or outdoor private training is the best option for those who are uncomfortable in or unable to wear a mask.
  • One handler per dog is permitted in the facility in order to allow for distancing. Family members may switch off each class.
  • In case of any COVID-related closure or absence, including illness, quarantine or isolation, all students will transfer to the Virtual Life Skills Program to complete the remainder of the program, and receive a bonus 30min ZOOM coaching session. No refund, credit or other service will be provided in this circumstance.
  • Your program will run for six consecutive weeks from the confirmed start date (save for clearly stated holidays/cancellations). Make up classes are not available, however you will have access to class instructions in order to keep up.
  • Your new dog/puppy must be living with you for at least 7 days prior to your first class.
  • Documentation of vaccination (Parvo/Distemper, Rabies if applicable) is required for ALL dogs.
  • Because COVID symptoms mimic regular cold and flu, should your instructor become ill class will be cancelled and run an extra week in length. Please leave an extra week of availability after your program to accommodate possibility of this safety procedure.

Read the FAQ here.

Register for Life Skills Here!

Schedule:
Tuesdays at 6pm
Wednesdays at 6pm
Each class runs 50-60min in length

Start any time space is available and attend six consecutive weeks of class. Your start date will be confirmed upon registration, or contact the office for availability.

Pricing: $269+HST
Payment must be received within 24hrs in order to confirm the time slot offered to you, and vaccination documents must be received prior to your first class

Read the FAQ here.

Train Like a Trainer!

Have you ever wondered how a trainer does it? Trainers aren’t hiding their magic wands from you! The steps below outline a few of the things great trainers do to help their dogs flourish and become the best dog they can be.  

Don’t be stingy!

Training is not minimum wage work! Don’t expect your dog to work for less than you do at your job. Being stingy with reinforcements is a sure-fire way to minimize learning and demotivate your dog. 

Reinforcement is feedback for your dog, letting her know she is on the right track. If you don’t provide reinforcements often enough, your dog will not be clear on the task. This is equivalent to emailing your boss for clarification on a project and not getting a reply for a week. If you don’t provide a sufficiently valuable reinforcement, your dog will not be motivated to stick with the training session. Would you clean my eavestroughs in exchange for a bag of used tissues? 

Your dog needs the information and motivation that generous reinforcement provides. Expecting your dog to work for free or for minimum wage will damage your training goal. 

Think ahead

Proactively planning your training sessions is key to success. Before even looking at your dog, chop your treats to the size of a pea, have your clicker on a wrist coil, and arrange a pouch at your side so you can quickly access treats – like a cowboy drawing his gun from his holster in an old western flick. Prepare any props you may need during the session, and place them off to the side of your training space until you are ready to use them. 

Fumbling around by breaking up too-large treats, dropping your clicker, and spending an extra three seconds digging around in a poorly designed pouch are all ways to disrupt the flow of a training session – and ultimately lose your dog’s focus. Keeping a flow of clear feedback depends on your smart preparation ahead of the training session.

Clarity and structure

One of the best ways to set your dog up for success is to have a single focus during a training session and keeping it short (five minutes), especially if you are introducing a new behaviour or concept. If you are introducing “lie down,” for example, focus only on lying down. Do not also teach sit from the down during the same session. Lure or hand signal for down, reinforce, and then toss a treat a foot or two away. Your dog will stand up to get that treat – and be ready for another trial of lying down. If you allow your dog to focus on one single exercise at a time, your dog will acquire that skill faster.

Your dog isn’t GIVING you a hard time, she’s HAVING a hard time

Sometimes the best laid plans can go awry because your dog is worried, overstimulated, or otherwise stressed. A critical skill for trainers is being able to recognize when their dog’s emotional response is blocking her ability to acquire a skill and then adjusting the training session accordingly. This might mean ditching your original plan in order to help your dog cope with a specific trigger or new environment, training in a different location, or perhaps even delaying the session to another time, when your dog is feeling better. 

Setting priorities and realistic goals

Particularly in cases of behaviour modification for stress-based problems, many dogs will have very real limitations. Becoming a therapy dog in a children’s hospital is not a realistic goal for a dog with a history of biting children, but this doesn’t mean that the dog and owner can’t have a full and meaningful life together! 

Sometimes the popular notion of a “good dog” is way off base. Decide what really matters to you and train for that! 

A dog who happily jumps to greet people isn’t a bad dog, and an owner may actually choose not to train “four-on-the-floor” for greetings. This owner is well within her rights to own a dog who jumps up to greet as long as she’s mindful to manage her dog around people who do not want to be jumped on (for example, asking if the person is okay being jumped on and using leashes or gates to prevent access if they do not consent). 

The owner may make this decision because she enjoys the enthusiastic greeting, or she may just be working on other issues that take priority over jumping up. As long as everyone involved, including the dog, is happy with the outcome, this is perfectly okay. (This would, of course, not apply to situations where a dog is stressed or a risk to others, or where the dog’s behaviour infringes on another person’s rights.)

Don’t blame the dog 

Blaming the dog for poor training results is equivalent to expecting your dog to train herself. If your dog is not doing what you ask, your dog either doesn’t understand or isn’t motivated (or both!). Luckily, you can acquire the skills necessary to change both of these situations! 

If your dog isn’t behaving as you’d like, take a step back before you get frustrated and inclined to point blame, and assess your training. Hiring a skilled professional dog trainer is a valuable step in rectifying why you’re not getting the results you want. 

Get the most out of the coaching by fully incorporating the trainer’s feedback and asking targeted questions. Just as raising a child doesn’t make you a child psychologist, having raised a dog in past doesn’t necessarily prepare you for the training challenges you face with your current dog.

Do the legwork

Think – Plan – Do is critical to a constructive approach to dog training. It is easy to get stuck on one of those steps and forget that doing the work is as critical as planning for it. “Practise makes perfect” isn’t as accurate as “perfect practise makes perfect” – if you don’t do the work, you don’t get the results!

Agility (And Then Some!)

Agility is a fantastic activity to build your dog’s confidence, teach her to look to you for direction, and simply have fun. And this program does just that!

Agility (And Then Some!) is geared towards owners having fun with their dogs. The equipment is modified to meet each dog’s skill level, confidence and physical ability, including younger and older dogs. There’s no need for you or your dog to be a top athlete to join class!

In addition to the usual agility obstacles, this program also includes additional exercises and creative obstacles added to each level to make this class so much more than a typical agility class!

Requirements and Prerequisites:

  • Dogs must be up-to-date on all vaccines as recommended by your veterinarian
  • 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. (note: see important prerequisite behaviours, below)
  • Owners who have not trained at Scratch and Sniff Canine Services previously will be required to view the Orientation Webinar session prior to class, and possibly attend a free assessment
  • Prerequisite training skills (taught with positive reinforcement/clicker):
    • Hand target (touch)
    • Basic skills in recall, sit, leash walking, leave it/’doggy zen’
    • Must be able to work off leash behind barriers and pass other dogs on leash in a controlled manner – all obstacles are completed off leash.
  • Refunds and credit are not available for Specialty Classes.

Safety Precautions

  • Masks that cover the nose/mouth and without vents are strictly mandatory when indoors and sanitizer is provided, as directed by WDG Public Health
  • Small group class size and limited attendance – one person per dog
  • Frequent cleaning and disinfection of the premises
  • Social/Physical Distancing in effect at all times

Class will not be cancelled for routine winter weather or typical snowfall – students will be alerted if poor weather results in cancellation.

Should a COVID-related closure occur in the duration of these programs, they will be put on hold until deemed safe to reopen. No alternative will be provided in this circumstance.

Register for Level ONE

LEVEL ONE starting Monday Sept 28th, 6-7pm
$275+HST
*Class will not run on Thanksgiving Monday

Register for Level TWO

LEVEL TWO starting Monday Sept 28th, 7:30-8:30pm
$275+HST
*Class will not run on Thanksgiving Monday

Orientation Webinar

The Orientation Webinar is a free, no-obligation webinar that is open to everyone.

View as the prerequisite for group classes and private training – or simply to see what we’re all about!

Register below to receive an email immediately with details and links to view, and you can get started in class immediately!

Get Started!

Register below by clicking on the bold date and receive full instructions via auto-email.  Contact the office if you don’t immediately see an email.

Note: The date noted is for admin purposes only. Select the bolded date and register to receive an email with full instructions on how to get started in class.

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 must be comfortable with other dogs and humans. This class is not for dogs with significant social difficulties including: barking/lunging, snarking/snapping upon greeting a dog,  etc. If this describes your dog, please see below for options.
  • Dogs must be up-to-date on all vaccinations as recommended by your veterinarian
  • 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 may 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 and Down (verbal cue or hand signal)
        • Stay basics
        • Loose leash walking basics
        • Hand target/touch
        • If you have most but not all prerequisites, please contact the office to discuss

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

Monday Nov 9th, running 7 consecutive weeks (see below for dates)
$315+HST ($355.95)

* Due to similarities between COVID and common cold symptoms, if your instructor is ill with a suspected cold your program will be extended by a week past the holidays, with the last class occurring Jan 4th.

Should COVID closures impact operation, this program will be put on hold and will resume after the closure in the same time slot. Other accommodations, including credit or refund, are not available.

Make-up sessions for missed classes 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).

Book your spot now!