Tag Archives: dog training

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.

Meet Braxton, Mila, Lucy, Walnut and Willow in the Small Pup Group…
and Hank, Hazel, Bowie and Theodore in the Large Pup group!

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:

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

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.

Schedule and Pricing

You can find the schedule at the bottom of this page.

Standard Pricing: $30+HST per session

Special price for puppies in our training classes: $20+HST per session
Join the All-Ages Life Skills Program (Virtual or in-person), or Private Training to access this discount!

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! Select the group based on the size of your puppy. If you’re unsure, contact the office for guidance.
  3. Send payment to the office via email money transfer to complete registration. Your booking is only tentative until payment is received.
  4. Check your email for instructions.

Select Your Puppy Party:

Click here if you have a small or shy puppy!

Click here if you have a medium or large puppy!

VIRTUAL All-Ages Life Skills

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

The COVID-19 pandemic has closed down our in-person classes, but we can achieve the same great 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 a BONUS Puppy Package 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 have a weekly introduction to new exercises with video demonstrations, verbal descriptions and written instructions.

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

  • Work at your own pace and on your own schedule!
  • Join class any time
  • Lessons are posted weekly and homework is reviewed on week days
  • Eight+ weeks access to dynamic content and personal guidance and training support
  • Access program content after your program is completed

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 Puppy Package

Puppy students get a special discount on Puppy Parties: Socialization and Play Group Drop-off!

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 test 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!

Register here!

$239+HST $209+HST until June 1st!

Select your start date and complete the registration form

Notice: There will be a holiday closure from July 25th through Aug 9th. Feedback will be on hold during this time, and you will maintain access to the course materials. This will not affect students in the June 1st course start date, all other students will have an additional two weeks on their programs.

IN-PERSON All-Ages Life Skills

Life Skills is an all-ages manners and obedience program, appropriate for puppies, adolescents and adult dogs alike. Take a look below for details on the Puppy Socialization Life Skills Package!

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
  • Preventing “Counter surfing”
  • And more!

Package Options

Life Skills Package:

  • Orientation Webinar to watch before getting started
  • Six group classes with a flexible start date
  • Life Skills Program Manual including videos of training exercises
  • If you need a make-up class, stay caught up with Virtual Life Skills

Puppy Socialization Life Skills Package:

Available to pups aged 16wks and under. You get all of the above PLUS:

  • Access to the All Things Puppy Classroom for quick reference on common puppy issues, such as house training, nipping, crate training and more
  • Puppy Play & Socialization A discount on the Puppy Party: Socialization and Play Drop-off for your puppy to attend during your program and until s/he ages out

Flexible Start Date

You can start class any time space is available! No need to wait for a new session. All you need to do is:

  1. Choose your start date with the office
  2. Submit full registration and payment within 24hrs to confirm your start date
  3. Attend 6 consecutive weeks of in-person training classes with your dog

Join the Virtual Life Skills Program, and transfer into the In-Person Life Skills program as soon as the program starts!

COVID-19 Precautions

  • Small group class size and limited attendance as recommended by Public Health recommendations
  • Frequent cleaning and disinfection of the premises
  • Increased ventilation for indoor classes
  • Social/Physical Distancing in effect
  • Puppy Party Drop-offs prevent contact between owners during high-contact play, 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 shutdown or illness, all students will transition seamlessly into the Virtual Life Skills Program

Schedule and Pricing

TBA when the facility reopens. Join the Virtual Life Skills Program, and transfer into the In-Person Life Skills program as soon as the program starts!

Join class ANY TIME and attend 6 consecutive classes to complete your program. Access your program manual and webinar(s) any time.

Register Here!

  1. Submit the intake form below by clicking on the 30th/31st (NOTE: this date does not represent your start date)
  2. We’ll be in touch shortly with instructions!

Join the newsletter for an alert when the In-Person Life Skills Program begins enrolment – OR join the Virtual Life Skills Program, and transfer into the In-Person Life Skills program as soon as the program starts!

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.

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

Level One: Schedule

$275+HST
Starting Monday Feb 24 2020, 8:45pm-9:45pm

Level One: Book Your Spot!

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 (Socially Distanced) 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.
  • This class requires a consistent handler to attend all classes. Pairs of handlers are welcome.
  • 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

$275+HST
Starting Monday June 8, 6-7pm

7 Consecutive weeks, virtual/in-person combined format
VIRTUAL Lessons: June 8, 15, 22, 29
IN-PERSON Lessons: July 6, 13, 20 (rain date Aug 10th, or decided upon as a group)

Note: This program is a combined virtual and in-person class. The in-person portion will take place at the facility likely outdoors, located at 340 Southgate Drive Guelph. 

Make up classes: During the ZOOM lessons, absent students will receive a link to watch the recorded lesson. Read the Virtual Training FAQ for important information about technology requirements.

Alternately, 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).

Book your spot now!

VIRTUAL 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.

How it Works

The Series has five programs you can choose from, outlined below. In each program, we will introduce a Base Behaviour that we will then turn into a wide variety of tricks. Each program will also include an optional assortment of other tricks to add variety to the central theme.

These programs can be taken in any order, and you can also attend one program multiple times to learn additional new tricks! Check the bottom of this page to see which program is on the schedule next!

You will need to acquire your own props for some of these tricks, some props will be available to borrow for use during in-person classes. Prop requirement will be reviewed in class.

“Boot-Scootin’ Back-up Challenge”
Base Behaviour: Back up to step on an object
Example of tricks: long distance reverse, karate kick, backward circle around you, weave through your legs backward, half-hand stand, and more…

“Snoot-Boop Challenge”
Base Behaviour: Nose touch to object
Example of tricks: close a cupboard, target stick, ring a bell, bowling, unroll a carpet, volley ball, put on your harness, and more…

“Snoot-Push Challenge”
Base Behaviour: Nose push (freeze in position)
Example of tricks: blowing bubbles in water, kiss like a seal, puppy dog eyes, finger-moustache, show your front teeth, “The Snoot Challenge”, and more…

“Hold My Beer Challenge”
Base Behaviour: Hold an object
Example of tricks: hold a sign, hold a flag, put your toys away, dunk a basket ball, throw out the garbage, get me a tissue, open the door/close the crate, and more…

“Stompin’ Paws Challenge”
Base Behaviour: Stand on object with front feet
Example of tricks: Feet up on a stool/chair, balance on a ball, press a button/door bell, file your own nails, skateboard, step up on your feet and walk with you, and more…

Additional Tricks
Each class will include an assortment of tricks in addition to the theme of the Base Behaviour. This includes ticks such as: stop punching yourself (dog paws at her face), stand under you, crawl, sit pretty, circle around you, yoga stretch, leg weave (stationary and walking), spin, twist, play dead, and more…

Pre-Requisites

  • 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 (note: see important prerequisites, 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’
  • Refunds and credit are not available for Specialty Classes.

Schedule

The Snoot-Push Challenge!
$275+HST
Starting Monday May 11 2020, 7:15-8:15pm

This program is entirely VIRTUAL and will take place over ZOOM even after the facility reopens. Before booking a spot, ensure that you are able to use the technology required for class by reviewing Virtual Training FAQs.

Missing a class? Just let your instructor know right away and you will be provided with a recording of the lesson! A discounted, 30min private make-up session can also be made available to you.

Book your Spot Now!

Contact the office with questions before registration

  1. View the Orientation Webinar
  2. Complete the registration form below
  3. To confirm your spot: payment must be made within 24hrs via Email Money Transfer to info@scratchandsniff.ca