Tag Archives: dog training

Orientation Webinar

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

View as the prerequisite for group classes, a supplemental class for 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 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!

 

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

Control Unleashed: Creating a Focused and Confident Dog

CU book coverControl Unleashed is a 7-week program developed by Leslie McDevitt to help dogs who are easily aroused, stressed or shut down. The program, originally developed for competitive sport dogs, has been adapted exclusively to meet the needs of dog owners and their pets at Scratch and Sniff Canine Services. Control Unleashed aims to reduce emotional volatility. Other dogs are the primary distraction/trigger we will focus on in this class, but the skills learned have a broad application.

Continue reading Control Unleashed: Creating a Focused and Confident Dog

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.

Private Training FAQ

Private dog training for fear, reactivity, aggression, manners, obedience and puppies.

When is private training the best option?

Private training is the best option for dealing with issues of  reactivity, fear and aggression. It is also the best option for manners/obedience for owners wanting to pursue focused training on a single topic, prefer one-on-one training and for those owners with schedules that cannot accommodate the group class program.

How much does private training cost?

All pricing is listed on the Private Training webpage.

Where are you located? What is your service area?

Private training is offered in your home or at the facility. The school is located at 340 Southgate Drive #3, Guelph. There is a map of the service area for in home sessions on the Private Training page. Contact the office to find out if travel to your location can be accommodated, and to determine any applicable travel fees.

What are your hours?

Private training may be booked during days, evenings or Saturday afternoon. Specific availability varies by week.

What is your booking/cancellation policy?

Payment must be made within two days to hold your appointment time. Notice of cancellation/rebook must be made 48 hours in advance or there is a full charge for the missed session. Please read full policy here.

How many sessions/how long does it take to solve my problem?

The length of time or number of sessions that it will take to solve the issue is very much dependent on the issue, the owner and the dog. For example, an owner looking to teach a non-aggressive dog to settle at the sound of a door bell may take only a couple of sessions, however working through multiple issues involving fear or aggression will take multiple sessions. There is a discount available on multi-session packages, as outlined on the Private Training webpage. Owners acquire skills at different rates of speed and this in turn affects the dog’s progress.

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 one’s own behaviour inasmuch as it affects the dog. I will guarantee that you will receive up-to-date information and instruction on force-free training methodology, support, guidance and consideration of the wants and needs of you and your dog.

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. My “dream client” is engaged, actively listens and assimilates information, asks lots of 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, and I can’t do it without you!

What do I need to prepare for my session?

  • Completed Behaviour Questionnaire
    • This will be sent to you via email. Complete in detail it on your computer and return it via email in advance of your session. Do not print, complete by hand or save it as a PDF. If you experience technical difficulties please contact the office.
  • Treats
    • Prepare extraordinary treats, the smellier/grosser the better. For example: sandwich meats, dehydrated organ meats, cooked and chopped lean meat from the butcher, or tripe treats
    • NO veggies, fruit, kibble, hard biscuits, etc.
    • Chop treats no larger than the size of a pea (or smaller for tiny dogs)
    • Minimum 300 pieces
    • Choose treats that will not upset your dog’s stomach
  • Pouch
    • Purchase a fanny pack, a treat pouch from the pet store, or a rock climbing chalk pouch, or notify your trainer and one will be available for purchase.
    • NO pockets and over-the-shoulder type bags
  • Equipment
    • Have ready your regular walking equipment (leash, harness, etc) as well as any favourite toys. You may be required to use a different type of equipment, as determined in your session.
  • Feeding/Exercise
    • If the session falls near a meal time, please feed only a very small portion of the meal earlier than usual. Cut back on all meals to accommodate the extra calories of training treats.
    • Exercise your dog appropriately prior to your session, however be sure not to exhaust your dog.
  • For dogs who are not friendly with people
    • For in-home sessions please secure your dog in a room out of sight from the front entrance. (i.e. in a room with a door closed, not in a crate in the front entry way). Ensure that your dog is not able to open the door or otherwise escape or injure her/himself. You may be asked to meet your instructor outside the home, ensure that your dog is not able to access windows and become agitated.
    • For in-school sessions please discuss this with your trainer prior to your session.

What methods do you use for behaviour modification training?

Respect for the dog’s physical, mental and emotional well-being is a foremost priority in any training at Scratch and Sniff Canine Services. Behaviour modification training focus on creating good associations with a trigger and teaching the dog how to make good choices, particularly when under stress. This training is not about controlling the dog, it is about returning agency to the dog. A dog who feels in control of herself feels safe and secure, thus removing the root cause of most behaviour issues (fear, anxiety, stress, over-arousal, etc). Our goal is to demonstrate to your dog that she is able to make choices and more importantly to teach her how to make good ones. It is important to note that the dog is never pushed to react and then punished; modern behaviour modification training must be conducted sub-threshold in order for a dog’s behavioural and emotional reactions to change. (Learn more about what “threshold” is.)

Primary protocols include:

Positive Reinforcement

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 (“here’s what you get if you perform”). Consequences occur after the behaviour has happened, as opposed to a lure (or “bribe”) which is used first in order to prompt a behaviour. Lures have their place, however must be used properly and do not play a significant role in behaviour modification training. Positive reinforcement is an over-arching theme of training and provides a foundation to change a dog’s behavioural and emotional reaction to a trigger.

Classical Counter Conditioning

Classical counter conditioning is an element of classical conditioning, also known as Pavlovian conditioning. This focuses not on behaviour but on emotional response. The dog is exposed to the trigger sub-threshold (dog notices but does not react) and this exposure is paired or associated with “good stuff” and pleasant experiences. This acts to change a dog’s emotional response by changing the meaning of the trigger.

Desensitization

Desensitization involves incremental, sub-threshold exposure to a trigger. Desensitization is used in conjunction with other methods and is an element of any training that exposes a dog to a trigger sub-threshold. Note that desensitization is not flooding! Flooding is a very detrimental method that involves exposing a dog to the trigger at great intensity, usually for a prolonged period. Imagine having a deathly fear of scorpions and being locked in a small box filled with them! Flooding often provokes a “freeze” response (“learned helplessness”), similar to a mouse that has been caught by a cat. This is not indicative of relaxation, and the dog is not calm. For more information on this, please read this article.

Behaviour Adjustment Training

Behaviour Adjustment Training is a low-stress, effective protocol designed by Grisha Stewart for fear, reactivity and aggression. It works by exposing the dog sub-threshold to the trigger and using a functional reward, most often distance from the trigger, to reinforce socially appropriate behaviours. The foundation of BAT training lies in the owner learning to read their dog’s body language and teaching the dog how to deal with stressful or uncomfortable situations using non-confrontational means.

The Real Cost of Separation Anxiety

Separation Anxiety is a fairly common behaviour problem that can affect any breed of dog. At its worst it is a full fledged panic disorder causing self-injury and extreme destruction of property. On the milder end, separation anxiety is distressing for the dog and can result in disruption for neighbours due to barking. It’s not uncommon to see this crop up in older puppies who never received proper “alone training” as a youngster, as well as shelter/rescue dogs who have had their lives shuffled through rehoming. Continue reading The Real Cost of Separation Anxiety