Socializing Your Puppy during a Pandemic

You have a puppy and now you are in isolation to help cut down the spread of Covid-19. This is the perfect time to socialize your pup. You can give this little fur ball positive experiences while staying home and practicing social distancing. Let me explain a little about a puppy’s timeline when happy interactions are most important and then I will give ideas on how to accomplish it.

A puppy’s emotional development is multi-layered. Hopefully, you got your puppy from a breeder who has already started the socialization process when the puppy was 3- weeks old. They would gently introduce the little ones to new stimulus.

You have heard that puppies need to meet or see a variety of things while they are young (2 months to 4 months old) to be well adjusted or socialized? What that refers to is a critical period in a puppy’s emotional development, you might have also heard it be called a fear period. Dogs have at least two of these periods before they are 18 months old. Commonly the first one happens between 8-11 weeks old and the second one happens at 6-14 months old. These are general measurements. Your puppy may experience their first period at 7-9 weeks and their second at 7-10 months old and again at 13-15 months old. These are the times they are experiencing critical learning causing them to be more sensitive to negative experiences that could impact their view of the world for the rest of their life.

You can work on preliminary training, simulated vet visits, grooming visits, different surfaces, scary noises and taking your pup for a social distanced walk or a car ride.

First, a little bit about rewards. Use a reward that your PUPPY really likes. It can be as simple as their kibble. Before showing the pup the reward, watch for the pup to do something you want before bringing out the treat.

The best training you can start with is the name game. It is the beginning of a recall. Every time you call your dog, his head whips around to see what wonderful thing might come next. For example, you get ready for your session by setting out 10 pea sized treats on a table in a quiet area. You happily say the pup’s name once and wait up to 5 seconds for the puppy to turn his head to look at you. You verbally offer praise and one treat. I really like this handout for instructions and ideas.

You can simulate a Vet or grooming visit by putting your young puppy on a raised table or counter covered by either a towel or non-skid mat. Have lots of tiny treats ready. Touch feet, open mouth, lift their tail and massage your puppy while giving treats with each touch.

Find as many types of safe textures that you can think of to let your puppy explore. Ideas: grass in your backyard, cardboard, rubberized matting, outdoor sisal mats, slick surface (bathtub), and plywood. The trick is to let the puppy lead the game of exploring, sniffing and walking on these textures with you there to give treats and laughs.

If your puppy gets “stuck” staring at you waiting for the treat in either the Name Game or walking on different textures, you will “reset” the game. Toss a treat a foot or so away from you, let the puppy see you do it. They will run to get the treat and then you can start the game over. You can download apps for scary noises such as thunder, sirens, cars, and people talking. etc You would want to start out with the volume low and slowly increase with each session.

In general, you should strive to make every life experience your puppy encounters to be positive and happy. The best way to do this is with short sessions, 5-10 minutes. I hope these ideas help you and your pup socialize in our non-social times.


Cheri Spaulding owns Rock Nest Training & Pet Care LLC.

You can contact her at 541-895-3162.

Dogs in Quarantine?

Now you’re home in quarantine, this is a great time to do things with your dogs. I keep my dog, Geo, busy with walks, fetch, and scent and training games. My favorite saying is, “A tired dog is a good dog!” And these cover his need for exercise and brain stimulation. I’m going to give you suggestions and overviews along with links to “how to” videos. (See Resources below)

I have taught Geo to play fetch. It is a great way to tire your dogs if you only have 10 minute break from your “stay-at-home” job. The best way to start teaching fetch is to toss the toy your dog is most likely to go after only a couple feet away. When your dog picks it up, step backwards or turn to run a couple steps, acting very excited, to draw your dog to come towards you. He might drop the toy, that’s ok, try again. Your dog should get the hang of how the game’s played in time. It’s supposed to be a fun, goofy, sloppy game. (See Fetch)

I’m sure many of you are getting out and about with your dogs. I recommend you use a 6 foot leash and never a flexi-leash. I like a shorter leash because I have a better control of my dog and with everyone on high alert, I don’t want my dog running up to people. If you do have time to take your dog on 12 walks a day, let your dogs sniff things on some of those walks. A dog’s olfactory organ is highly developed. (See How Dogs See with Their Noses) If you want to take a power walk and your dog is a dedicated sniffer, I recommend you take the exercise walk for yourself, leaving your dog home, and then take another “sniffing walk” with your dog. Spending a little time away from home and your dog may help your dog to ease back into those times that you are absent when you return to your regular work schedule.

If fetch, hiking or walking isn’t your dog’s thing, there are many indoor scent games to play. I like playing object recognition games. I put out a favorite toy, when my dog puts his paw or his nose on the toy, I say “yes” or use the clicker to mark that I like what he did. Then I give him a tiny treat as a reward. Once he had touched the toy 10 times in a row, I hold a different toy and wait for him to touch his original favorite toy before rewarding. (See Target) Another fun game is the shell game. I put a treat under three plastic cups. When my dog touches his nose on the correct cup, I lift it up so he can get his treat. (See Shell game) It’s always fun to teach tricks like Spin. I found the easiest way is to lure my dog by holding a treat at his nose and slowly moving my hand around in a circle, then fading out the treat but use my hand in the same circle to lure them around. (See Spin)

Your dog might have a behavior that you would like to see improved. Now would be a great time to work on the basics: sit, down, stay, and come when called. Pick one and work on it 3-5 minutes a day. I like to incorporate games into learning. On our walks, I let my dog get a big 10-30 second snootful of smells as a reward every so often for walking with me.

Teaching my dog “fetch” helps with getting him to want to come when called. It has all the components to a successful recall, he is away from me, he comes to me, and he is rewarded with my attention and it is all fun. I use the clicker when teaching specific behaviors. (See How To
Clicker Train
)

I’m sure your dog loves having you home and this is a great time to spend “quality” with him. I sure have enjoyed spending more time with Geo.

Resources
Fetch: Zac George
www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtpLvumSTzI

How Dogs see with their noses: Alexandra Horowitz
youtu.be/p7fXa2Occ_U

Targeting: Ken Ramirez
youtu.be/nmJkDPnpYGU

Shell game: Kyra Sundance
www.youtube.com/watch?v=grCNnzxJQgQ

Spin: Kyra Sundance
www.youtube.com/watch?v=38x0TSfdlug

How to clicker train: Donna Hill
youtu.be/pBObkR4ZUNY

How to clicker train: Karen Pryor Academy, Take a Bow Wow
youtu.be/IC367wKGi4M

20 Tricks: Kikopup
www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhfOk05nM_4

Cheri Spaulding - Rock Nest Training and Pet Care in Creswell, Eugene, and Springfield

What do you give a dog with a temperature?

“What do you give a dog with a temperature?  Mustard, because he’s a hot dog!” The joke was told to me by a Veterinarian’s 7 year old daughter. Seriously, what do you do when extreme temperatures hit and you need to have your dog in the car? My dogs have experienced it all.  A road trip with dogs is my favorite thing to do so they have travelled across country multiple times. For a few years, I attended dog shows nearly every weekend and we encountered every kind of weather condition you can imagine.  One day, we started the day with 95 degree heat finishing one agility trial and ended the day setting up for the next agility trial in the snow.

At agility trials and any dog event, the talk is about keeping our dogs happy in the weather conditions—usually hot weather—and sharing ideas. We constantly reminded each other to drink lots of water and encourage our dogs to drink water.   Some wonderful person told me if I’m going to hose my dogs down to cool them off, to be sure to get them wet down to their skin—wetting only the top layer of fur will only intensify the heat.

After 30 years of travelling with dogs, it’s a habit to pay attention to outside temperatures before I load any dogs in the car.  If it’s going to be in the 60s and sunny, I make sure I have water packed in the car.  If I have to park the car and leave the dog, I try to park in shade of a building or trees and leave the windows slightly opened. As temperatures increase, I freeze water so as it thaws the dogs always have cool water.   I pack battery run fans and reflective shade tarps to wrap my car in.  If the temperature is above 75, I consider other options or leaving my dog home.

Dogs cool themselves down by panting and they have sweat glands on the pads of their paws.  Not a great cooling system when wearing a fur coat, especially if they are standing on a hot surface. Many dogs have hard time in extreme cold temperatures.  They only have their fur coat to keep them warm.  A husky may prefer to be outside curled up in a snow covered dog house, but I couldn’t imagine my dog, Geo, wanting to stay outside for very long.

Every dog is a little different in their heating and cooling needs.  The important thing to remember that dog’s thermostat is not very efficient and we need to pay attention to temperatures for them. In the Northwest, outside temperatures don’t drop too low, though lately December and January have been brutally cold. You will need to think about how long to leave dogs stay outside and if they have shelter to get out of the cold.  Our summers can be intensely hot though so consider outdoor walks or training in the morning and giving your dogs car rides in the morning or only on drive through errands, going to the bank or getting coffee.

Rock Nest Training & Pet Care offers dog training classes in an air conditioned facility, both private and group lessons.  Please call at 541-895-3162 or visit www.rocknestpetcare.com for more information.  Find us at www.facebook.com/rocknestpetcare/

Cheri Spaulding - Rock Nest Training and Pet Care in Creswell, Eugene, and Springfield

Cooler Heads Prevail

Sadly, we hear about people forgetting children or leaving their dogs in hot cars. I called the police about a car with two huskies in it.  Fortunately the temperature was in the mid 60s but the sun was strong.   I had been walking dogs and I was sweating in a long sleeve shirt and the dogs in the car looked uncomfortable and were panting.  If the person had pulled up 10 feet the car would have been in the shade and the dogs would have been much more comfortable.

Oregon now has a law allowing people to break a window if children or dogs are in distress in a vehicle.  There are rules to this law though before a window can be broken, there needs to be a reasonable belief that the child or pet is in danger.  While researching the new Oregon law, I found the testimony of Kohana Clem, age 9, of Girl Scout Troop 10037 who made a short but effective statement.  The following is a portion of it:

The rules are:

  • See if the owner of the car is close by.
  • If they are not, check to see if the doors are unlocked
  • If it is not unlocked, first call the police to make sure you have permission to break open a window
  • Only break one window
  • Then stay until help arrives

Leave it to a kid to tell it in plain speak so we can understand it!  The law used her rules but dressed it up in a lot of legalese.

Now that we have this law that allows us to legally help a distressed pet in a car, we need to make sure the pet is really in distress before opening doors or breaking a window. Kristine Willaman, DVM reported on the process of hyperthermia (overheating) which can be within minutes.  She said, “Initially the pet will pant excessively and become restless.  As the temperature increases and hyperthermia progresses, the pet may drool large amounts of saliva.  In addition, you may notice the pet becoming weak or unsteady on his/her feet.  The lips or tongue may turn blue/purple or bright red in color, due to inadequate oxygen.”   Thankfully, I have never seen a dog in a car like this.  Sheri Schlorman, DVM suggests knocking on the window, if the dog can’t lift his head, he is in distress.  Importantly, she added, “If the dog can respond, then he is not in imminent danger. You can risk a dog bite if you reach in a car window and open the car door to check on a dog who thinks he needs to protect his territory.”

After you have knocked on the window and the dog is responding but he looks very hot.  Try to find the owner first. If it’s at a store, take the license plate number with a description of the car and ask an employee to make an announcement. That may help the owner come out of their shopping daze.

To avoid having an embarrassing announcement on a loudspeaker or your window broken, don’t take your dogs out on very hot days.  Sheri Schlorman, DVM added additional thoughts, “What is just as worrisome to me is seeing dogs in the back of pick-up truck with black bed liners or dogs walking on asphalt on 95 degree days. If it’s too hot for you to walk barefoot, then it’s too hot for your dog.”

Work on your dog’s socialization and training skills early in the day or take a drive to our local bank, Banner Bank, or Cascade Home Center.  Both are welcoming to leashed, behaved dogs.  If its really hot, give them a ride in the air conditioned car and hit the drive through at DQ, Hot Shots, Coffee Bean.  Whatever you do, think it through so everyone stays cool.

Rock Nest Training & Pet Care offers dog training classes in an air conditioned facility, both private and group lessons.  Please call at 541-895-3162 or visit www.rocknestpetcare.com for more information.  Find us at www.facebook.com/rocknestpetcare/

Cheri Spaulding - Rock Nest Training and Pet Care in Creswell, Eugene, and Springfield

Fireworks are not for everyone!

It’s the time of year we show our patriotism and celebrate our country!  It’s the time of year our dogs think the world is ending!  It’s not just dogs, people are often sound sensitive. My childhood memories of July 4th are of my family going to watch the town’s firework display. Everyone would park in a field, get out blankets, chairs and picnic baskets to watch as the sky lit up with vibrant colors.  At the first explosion in the sky, I was wailing and trying to get back in the car to climb under the seat.  I know how dogs feel, the sudden loud noise is terrifying and then with each flash and bang my nerves were jangled that much more.  I overcame this as I got older because it wasn’t cool to scream and cry in front of my friends and I didn’t fit under the car’s seats anymore. My experience gave me empathy for our furry friends.

I had a friend whose dog would hide under the bed at the boom of guns or fireworks. Another friend’s dog dove for cover into his “bomb shelter,” the crate.  If your dog is crate trained, that might help. Susan Bennett, a client, friend, and local realtor said of her dog, “Izzy gets upset the moment she hears a firework and stays that way for a couple days. She won’t eat, she hides in the closet trembling.”  I’m worried for dogs like Izzy because revelers may start firing off the fireworks on Friday, June 30th and continue for the next 4 days through the 4th. That is a long time for terrified dogs.

The shelters are overloaded during holidays like the 4th of July because hysterical dogs break through windows and yard gates in an attempt to get away from the noise.  Then you will have to post bail for your dog when the shelter is open.  It might be a few days of boarding you will pay for.  To avoid this, a little knowledge is power.

Dogs can’t be calmed easily when in a state of fear.  Do you have a phobia?  Do you want someone telling you that your fear of spiders is silly when you are staring down a Daddy Longlegs? Dogs in fear will pant heavily, drool, have sweaty paws, be destructive to get out of doors, and possibly aggressive.  So what do you do for your frightened pup? Plan ahead a little—think about going on a vacation and taking your dog with you, visit your Veterinarian and discuss appropriate tranquilizers and options, play classical music or a white noise machine to drown out the cacophony outside.  Over the next year, you can employ a slow systematic desensitization process using thunder and loud noise CD. Your dog will habituate to the noises.

Even though I have gotten over my sound sensitivity through many years of exposure, many people have not. Fireworks can trigger anxiety attacks or reliving combat memories for veterans of war. According to ABC News, in a 2012 report, 30% of the service personnel from the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars have PTSD. So for the sake of all sound sensitive beings—human and canine—stick to a celebration without the loud percussions.

If you don’t consider the 4th of July complete without fireworks, forego having noisy fireworks at home.  Your veteran neighbors and those who have dogs will thank you. Instead make sure your dog is safe, find a pet sitter for him, and attend your town’s centrally located fireworks display.

Cheri Spaulding - Rock Nest Training and Pet Care in Creswell, Eugene, and Springfield

Who’s calling, please?

The most common complaint dog owners have is that their dog won’t come to them when called. I had the same problem with Geo when I got him.  We practice every day, sometimes once, sometimes many, many times. I look for opportunities and there are the necessary times I have to call Geo to come to me. I’ve successfully called him off chasing deer twice. Still, there is rarely a perfect recall.  If you have looked at my Facebook page I have posted many videos of us having fun practicing recalls.

Fun is the keyword. Just as you don’t want to hang around a grump—neither does your dog.  Make yourself more fun and interesting than what is in your dog’s environment during practice. That would mean practice in an area low in distractions for your dog—inside your house or a quiet area of the yard. Keep your voice friendly. This is where using a whistle for the recall is handy because the whistle tone is always the same. Stand up in a relaxed pose-dogs find a forward leaning pose threatening.  Use rewards your dog likes. If someone called my name and I thought they might have a $5 bill to give to me, I’d run to them. Food is the easiest reward because it’s quickly delivered.  I use pinkie fingernail sized pieces of hot dog, cheese, or chicken.  These are high value to most dogs. You’ve set the scene, now practice is very short sessions of 3-5 minutes.

Start by getting your dog on a leash to keep him close. Say your dog’s name and reward him when he comes to you.  Watch for times when your dog is looking away from you and call him.  You can step backwards to encourage him to come towards you quickly. When your dog gets to you—reward, reward, reward.  Be generous with tiny rewards, dogs understand quantity.  Do this as many times a day as you can for a couple weeks so your dog gets in the habit of listening for you to call him.

Never call your dog to you when you are going to do something your dog finds unpleasant-nail clipping, going to the Vet, getting a bath, etc.  I would never call Geo to me to put him in the car.  He does not enjoy car rides, yet!  When he can tell I’m getting ready to leave, he runs to his bed as if to say, “I’ll hold down the fort.” If he needs to go with me, I go to him, calmly leash him up without saying anything and put him in the car.

As with all training sessions, only do recall practice when you are positive your dog will come to you.  Set the scene for success: no distraction, your dog’s a couple feet away, he’s on a leash or long line. Remember to keep training sessions short—less than 5 minutes, but have them frequently—several times a day.  Reward heavily every time he comes to you.  I play Hide and Seek with my dogs, I go into another room and call my dog.  When he comes running, we have a party of pets, treats, or a trip into the yard to play fetch.

Recall classes with be offered this summer.  They will be 3 weeks long, meeting once a week. Call Rock Nest Training & Pet Care for more information at 541-895-3162.  Find us on Facebook at facebook.com/rocknestpetcare

Cheri Spaulding - Rock Nest Training and Pet Care in Creswell, Eugene, and Springfield

Traveling with Your Dog

It’s the time of year many of us start planning a trip. I recently took a trip with my dog, Geo.  I was shocked at all the baggage Geo had while I had a tiny suitcase and my computer bag.  I brought everything he might need—several different types of leashes, bowls, food, treats, bed, crate, first aid kit and many, many toys,. We were ready for anything. Along with packing these necessities, there are some other considerations, basic canine manners.

Your dog is used to the routine in his territory, his house and yard, but being in different surroundings may be quite unsettling.  In my last article, I spoke to you about the importance of socialization.  Spot will be a much better traveling companion if he has daily car rides to the store, park, bank or coffee drive thru.

He will also be much more comfortable during a long car ride and then expected to settle into a hotel room or camp site if he has some real world skills.  If he knows some basics:

  • Recall-your dog with come back to you in every situation—particularly useful if camping
  • Wait at doors-useful getting in/out of hotel rooms, tents, cars
  • Watch me-able to get your dog’s attention when there are distractions
  • Settle- your dog can lie down and relax in new situations
  • Sit-your dog will stay in one place
  • Crate training-safety in the car, hotel, camp site

You want to work on these a month to three months in advance.

Teaching your dog to look at you in the presence of distractions, settle on a mat, and sit or down/stay is fairly easy to teach—those are the basics you would work on in a Good Manners dog class. Settle on a mat is particularly good because it gives your dog his own territory, a constant when he is traveling.  Another good practice to have your dog automatically wait at doors until you tell him its ok to go through, it’s great when you have visitors or are a visitor, needing to get bags through a door at home or in a hotel.  There would be nothing worse than having Spot blow through your tent flap or camper door in chase after a squirrel or deer.  This is when a solid recall would come in handy!  You might want to have Spot can sleep in a crate if you are still working on that solid recall.  Crate training can be easy but you want to have time before your trip to have your dog adapt to settling down in a crate.  Crate training has a practical everyday use, if he goes to the Veterinarian for surgery, he will be in a kennel. These are basic manners every dog should have whether for everyday or visiting Grandma in the next town.

I’ve always traveled with my dogs and we had a lot of fun and adventure. Someday I’ll tell you about Rocky and Nestle, my first dogs, getting a bath at a truck stop in Indiana. Yes, we all make mistakes.

I still think it’s worth packing all the extra bags and equipment.

Cheri Spaulding - Rock Nest Training and Pet Care in Creswell, Eugene, and Springfield

Dog Socialization

My dog, Geo, was born in an animal shelter and lived there for the first 5 months of his life.  He is sweet and goofy, friendly with dogs, cats, and people, but terribly fearful.

Dog Training in Eugene, Oregon

Cheri and Geo

Toewes Ordering a Biscuit

He is fearful of everything, especially sudden, sharp noises and anything I might carry—hats, purses, umbrellas, water hoses, tote bags of any kind—you name it.  I don’t believe he was ever beat by a woman in a floppy hat carrying a black polka dot tote bag.  I do believe some of it is his personality and most of it is that he missed the crucial time in his life when socialization to the real world would have benefitted him most.

Puppies and young dogs need to be slowly exposed to more and more to help them develop skills to cope with new experiences.  It’s important to get puppies out and about as soon as possible after you get clearance from your Veterinarian at puppy’s first exam and start their vaccinations. You will want to take your puppy to only select places for short visits. Avoid areas where other dogs frequent, you want to protect your puppy from communicable disease and injury. As your dog gets older and is exposed to more situations, and had the full course of puppy vaccinations, you can take him more places. Here are ideas:

Puppies: Car rides to the store, through the bank drive through—Banner Bank tellers always have good treats, coffee booths—The Coffee Bean, Hot Shots, and Creswell Coffee are animal lovers, your Veterinarian’s office to get weighed and cuddled by the staff—the clinic staff and your dog will thank you, or the hardware store, Cascade Home Center is very welcoming to leashed dogs.

Geo at Beverly Hills Restaurant

Have a puppy party at your house—invite a couple friends or neighbors at a time to help with your puppy’s skills-sitting politely for visitors. People love to help train puppies. The most important place to take a puppy is a puppy kindergarten class.  They will experience a little training, lots of handling, a variety of noises, objects and textures, people, and other puppies.

Young or older dogs: Hiking, parks, festivals or farmer’s markets, animal shelter fundraising events, pet stores, patio seating at restaurants, a stroll downtown. Take your older dog’s training level up a notch—a group dog class.

I‘m sure you can things of other places to take your puppy or dog. Make sure to call ahead to ask if the presence of your dog is appropriate.  Don’t introduce your dog to a new situation without a plan in case he showed distress—fear, excessive barking or whining, hiding. If he is showing fear that can’t be soothed, be ready to cut short the visit.  With a little advanced preparation, you and your dog can have an enjoyable outing.

Socialization is an important part of training.  While you are out, you will be working on car ride management, walking on a leash, sits/downs, and your dog learning to be polite in public. Socialized dogs are in general happier and can handle stress better throughout their life.

Rock Nest Training & Pet Care LLC is offering group training classes.  We are available by email or call us at 541-895-3162. And be sure to like our Facebook page!

Dog Parks

Our weather is starting to get nice, finally!  On those nice days we want to get out and about with our dogs.  Many dog owners take their dogs to dog parks, some find success playing with their dogs in a safe, fenced environment, and others don’t. When I got Geo, I carefully chose the dog parks we visited and the dog friends we met there.  Quickly, I saw Geo acting in a way I didn’t want.    I stopped taking him to dog parks, promising my friends we would return when I had a reliable recall and Geo was a little more mature.

I consulted with an expert in the field of dog behavior and dog parks.  Sue Sternberg has researched dog parks and the effect on dogs who visit them. She believes with a well-designed dog park and knowledgeable owners the potential for behavioral problems and injury to dogs is greatly reduced. She would like to all dog owners be “Triple A” Owners—Alert, Attentive, Active—Alert to the conditions of the dog park, behaviors of other dog and owners, paying attention to their own dog; Attentive to their own dog, noticing when their dog or other dogs are getting out of control; Active and engaged with their own dog while at the dog park.  Sternberg developed an iphone app, Dog Park Assistant, unfortunately there isn’t one for androids.

Trainers have known for years that there are risks with dog parks. Trish King, CPDT, CDBC reported in a seminar I attended in 2004 that she was seeing a lot of dogs with behavioral problems with the commonality that they attended dog parks.  She and Sue Sternberg suggest a minimum of looking for parks that provide separate areas for small and large dogs, double gate entryways, multiple obstacles i.e. trees so dog’s views are blocked and fearful dogs can go for safety, minimum of benches for humans, and a surface that discourages dogs from building running speed.

I wasn’t happy seeing Geo quickly learn that he could run amok and not come to me when I called him. For now, we have a wonderful time going to training class, hiking in the woods, and taking leashed walks in town.  I hope Geo can meet with his dog friends at our favorite dog parks someday. Some dogs can keep their cool at the dog park and that is the only time they have to romp off leash.  I’m glad for them. As Trish King said, “A dog park is like a cocktail party, where you don’t know anyone and everyone is drunk.  You could have fun, but it could be a disaster.”

If you are interested in showing off your dog’s good manners at the dog park, call me for private and group lessons.  I am offering puppy and adult group classes at Rock Nest Training and Pet Care in Creswell, 541-895-3162 or www.rocknestpetcare.com.

Group Dog Training Classes Eugene, Springfield, Creswell Oregon Article

Group Dog Training Classes

Last month I spoke about what a good dog a trained dog is. How do you get a trained dog? There are a variety of ways—learning from training books, private lessons, and group dog training classes. If you’re like me, trying to learn something complicated from a book without the benefit of asking questions is frustrating. Private lessons are best for you and your dog if there are specific and complicated behaviors to be learned, but you will be paying for the individual time of an instructor. Taking a group dog instruction class is the best choice for your dollar if you are looking to learn general behaviors. You will learn from an instructor who has devoted significant hours into education and training of dogs and people.

Group dog classes are wonderful because you have the opportunity to ask questions of an instructor who has had everything happen with their dogs or dogs they have trained that you may be dealing with. You haven’t lived until the only way you can get a dog to come to you in the dark and during an ice storm is to lay down in a busy intersection at 5 PM rush hour! But that story is for another article. Good instructors help you with selection of proper training equipment and provide class safety—you and your dog should feel relaxed enough to practice skills. Look for a class that provides you and your dog plenty of room to work. They also modify exercises to suit you and your dog’s level, and will be available to field quick questions in between classes.

Veterinary hospitals sometimes will have a large enough waiting room to hold a puppy class—a combination of puppy socializing with each other and learning to work with their humans. The added benefit is the puppy associates happy experiences with the Vet’s office. Even if your Vet‘s office is unable to accommodate puppy classes, discuss with your Veterinarian about when to start puppy training class. Puppy socialization is important to your dog’s mental health. A dog doesn’t have to be a puppy or young adult to benefit from a class. Older dogs will appreciate a weekly outing to give him mental stimulation or sharpen his skills. Group dog training classes with specific themes—really reliable recall or tricks, to name a couple are fun and useful.

There is a group class for every dog. Look for a class that will be a safe place to learn, fun, and has a qualified instructor. Dog training is an unregulated industry, there are efforts made to legitimize it, so you will sometimes see an alphabet soup of letters behind an instructor’s name. These signify they have gone through training and testing of their skills through a certification council. Asking about possible credentials is a way to figure out if the instructor has had advanced education which will reflect in their classroom skills.

Rock Nest Training & Pet Care, LLC is offering weekly group puppy and adult classes. Look for us on Facebook under Rock Nest Pet Care. For more information about services, please contact us at www.rocknestpetcare.com or call 541-895-3162.