Tag Archives: guelph

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!

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!

 

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

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.