Saturday, February 4, 2023

Working Paws Comment

 

Message Received from Group Member

The Working Paws group is open to anyone training their dog with some more advanced skills typically found in dogs who have a job; Service Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Hunting Dogs...anyone that goes beyond advanced training with their dog is welcome to join the group.

One of things the Working Paws group is designed to do is support the members with dog training tips, demonstrate force free training methods, and highlight training accomplishments. We follow a Kindness Code where any discussion is allowed as long as members remain kind to each other, with the main goal being ways to spread that kindness to our animals.

The Admin have adopted a Whole Dog approach, looking at all aspects of the dog to work toward creating a healthy, happy dog that has the best life possible with their person. Behavioral issues can be caused by a wide variety of things including physical issues/pain, emotional experiences, social connections, skills previously learned and most importantly through reinforcement whether intentional or unintentional. 

The Working Paws group members are commonly in the group to network with other dog owners that may be experiencing the same challenges. As in this comment, the group member was struggling with imposter syndrome. This is when a person feels as if they are not a good enough trainer to help their dog reach their goals or in the Service Dog community the term refers to someone with an invisible disability that sometimes feels as if they are not disabled enough to need a Service Dog. Both are very common and challenging to overcome.  Most people have a social need to network with others that have been through the same challenges or are going through the challenge at the same time. And that is what the Working Paws group is designed to.

At just over 100 members, the group is small enough to be a safe space where members can ask questions, vent about challenges and feel comfortable showing their mistakes so others can learn. 

To check out the other networking groups hosted by Yooper Paws of Love visit the Groups Tab.

To learn more about training a Service Dog check out this tab.



Yooper Paws of Love is happy to receive comments and feedback from those who follow us! Feedback helps us to grow and provide more resources for the types of help you need. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us at yooperpaws@gmail.com

Katrina's Review


Review from the 2021-2022
Building a Better Bond Workshop


To: Penny Beeman

I am so excited to watch as Penny Beeman expands her dog training business. 

I found Penny on a FB group when I was struggling in a service dog training program with my dog-Ruger. I was about to give up after two years of hard work and dedication. Ruger was a challenge to train every step of the way. We went through three trainers-each recommending the other because Ruger needed someone ‘more experienced’. I contemplating quitting many times but I just knew in my heart Ruger and I were meant to be a team. 

I came across Penny’s class ‘Building a Better Bond’. I hesitated to enroll in the class as I hadn’t completed the program we were already  in but am so thankful I enrolled in ‘Building a Better Bond’. 

Penny’s passion brought our excitement back! Her knowledge and experience helped us work through hurdles and increased our confidence. I also appreciated her commitment to positive reinforcement/force free training. 

Penny was dedicated to helping us but I could tell her dedication runs deeper. It’s  a mission to help humans and dogs understand each other and have a mutual respect of each other. The outcome is easier training through a bonded love. 

I am happy to announce that Ruger and I successfully completed our service dog training program! 

Thank you Penny! 

We couldn’t have done it without you! I’m excited to watch your business grow as you help change the lives of dogs and their people. 

Much love to you! 
Katrina and Ruger from SC

Thursday, February 2, 2023

February Special 28

 The February Theme of the Month is Focus on Behaviors!


Every dog owner has certain behaviors that they love to see their dog do and other behaviors they hate to see their dog doing. In 2022, the Focus was understanding what drives behaviors, what reinforcement means, what enrichment means and other elements that we can use to encourage our dogs to do more of the behaviors we love. A few months later, in September, we looked at some of the common behaviors that we often find challenging or difficult to change. This month I'm going to bring all those previous posts together to help us how to move away from those behaviors we hate while increasing the recurrence of the behaviors we love.

This is a topic that begins to move away from the typical dog training world, moving more towards the behavioral modification planning that is done by skilled Behavior Consultants. (My certificate to show this credential from ILLIS ABC is available on the About Me tab.) While I won't be solving the world's dog behaviors, I will be giving you some tools to develop simple modification plans yourself as a dog owner while helping you understand why your dog is doing what they are doing.

Creating a plan to bring about change in behavior is not easy! Which is one of the reasons I've developed the February Special 28! This package includes:
  • One ZOOM session that will be roughly 28 mins long, geared toward discussing that one challenging behavior you want to work on with this plan.
  • One Behaviors Worksheet that we fill out together to help us develop the plan.
  • Access to shaping plans that can be modified to meet the needs of you and your dog.
  • 28 Days of text support following the Zoom session to help with any questions or struggles you are having in your plan process.
This Special 28 will cost the very low fee of $28 for all these great services!


During the Zoom session we will discuss the "bad" behavior. I will walk you through a workshop where we discuss these topics:
  • Describe what the behavior looks like?
  • What canine need is the behavior fulfilling?
  • What is the dog achieving by doing the behavior?
  • And what behavior would your rather them do in that situation?
These can be challenging for an owner to figure out on their own because they are often too close to the struggle to see the whole dog picture. By discussing these and other questions with a 3rd party, you can often create a simple plan to help transition the behavior you don't want repeated to the behavior you love and want your dog to do more of. This is done by creating a history of positive associations to the new behavior using teamwork. By looking at the whole dog and not just the troubling behavior, we can address the underlying cause of that behavior instead of stopping the behavior out right which typically leads to an even worse behavior starting. The training plan will be designed to teach the dog what you want them to do, which is a concept dogs learn much more quickly than a "stop that" concept!


A bonus to this Special 28 package is that it gives you the chance to try out Virtual Consults with a dog trainer without breaking the bank and finding out that this format doesn't really work for you. 

Let me tell you about one client of mine, who will remain nameless. They thought virtual training would not work for them with a strong feeling of needing hands on help in order to help their dog. I searched my trainer network and referred them to a few people that shared my training ethics. They tried going to those trainers and multiple others they found on their own including some "not" force free trainers. What the client found was a trainer that said the dog was dangerous because the dog barked at the trainer the first time trainer showed up at the house. Client found another trainer that was way out of their price range. Client found another trainer that swore the dog needed e-collar training and client paid for a very expensive board & train only to realize that the e-collar made dog more reactive and fearful. Needless to say, client came back to me with virtual sessions and together we made more progress in just a few short sessions than with all the other trainers combined. Client now knows how to do the "Whole Dog" approach to looking at a problem and still reports progress to me almost weekly as they continue to grow their teamwork skills and move closer to their goal of becoming a Service Dog team. And this is not a rare client that switched to virtual training vs in person training. 

When covid hit, most dog trainers did not know how they were going to survive as a business because very few had ever done virtual training. Yet the world wide shut downs forced canine professionals to try new things. And now many canine professions say they will never go back to face-to-face training sessions and holding in-person classes because they can reach a much bigger audience and help people more rapidly using virtual training.  And here is why:
  • Virtual training offers stress free training. No longer is your dog being triggered by the trainer, the environment the session is taking place, the distractions that interrupt a session, etc. No longer is the dog owner trying to manage the dog and listen to the trainer at the same time. Trainer and owner have a quiet conversation discussing the "Whole Dog" and then the trainer gives the client some things to do before they meet again.
  • Virtual training offers a more flexible schedule. Many dog owners work therefore needing classes in the evenings or on weekends. By skipping the drive time to the appointment, trainers can spread out sessions more easily seeing one client at time that works for them and another several hours later without the need to book them one after the other to save drive time. This is especially true for people like me where the average client lives 10-20 miles away from my house and spread out in a rural community in all directions. This also means that often the trainer is not rushed to get to the next client so if you need an extra 5-10 minutes in your session that can be accommodated. Some sessions are shorter, some are longer giving both client and trainer the time they need to discuss the topic without pressure to fill the whole slot.
  • Digital resources including links to more information and worksheets that can be filled in digitally or printed off for notebooks can be sent during or immediately following the session. I have a free blog on my website that has tons of great resources for dog owners. But this format can be overwhelming for many. I can send a link directly to the blogpost on the topic we are discussing either in the session or between sessions to remind you what we discussed. I also don't like to waste paper, but often worksheets are not able to be filled in virtually. All my worksheets and plans are in Google Drive using a spreadsheet or word processing format that makes it easy for both trainer and client to fill in and expand as the training progresses. This saves us all time and saves trees as well!
  • Ongoing support is not something that all trainers offer, but I do! Most of my clients buy a package instead of a single session. Packages are laid out based on the difficulty level of what is being trained. I offer packages that have a 3 month plan & 6 month plan most often, with the occasional monthly special like this one that has 28 days of extended support. This support begins immediately following the first zoom session in that package and typically involves text based support through messenger, directly to your cell phone or through the group that relates best to your training package. For example the Medical Alert classes I teach are a 3 month class and work within a Google Classroom which offers private & group messaging within the classroom, plus we a Service Dog task group where questions can be posted, plus I'm available to private messages during that time. No that doesn't mean you get an immediate response the moment you send a message. But since I have a great team of support staff, you generally get a response within a few hours and for sure within 24 hrs. This includes weekends with a rare few holidays that are announced as unavailable dates.
  • Virtual training allows for individualized needs of both the handler and the dog. This is probably one the biggest perks to virtual training. Years ago, the common force free way to handle stopping a dog from jumping was to have them sit when a visitor came and wait for permission to greet. While this is good in theory, many dogs struggle to be calm enough to actually sit and owners need help finding a behavior that meets the dog's need to move and release some excitement yet still saves the visitor from an over enthusiastic greeting from the dog. Once an alternate behavior has been found that meets everyone's needs, training is some much easier. Dog training is not a one size fits all situation as each dog owner, each dog, and each trainer has unique life experiences that all add to the relationship sometimes referred to as the Training Triangle; owner, dog, trainer with each individual impacting both of the others. Individualized training helps training to happen more naturally which in turn makes everyone happier with the end results.
Have I convinced you yet to give virtual training a try? 
Perhaps you've tried it and finished up your package but have a few lingering questions. 
Perhaps you've been training for years and now something has changed and your simply struggling with this one problem and not seeming to make any progress on your own. 

If any of these sound familiar to you, then this is what the Special 28 package is designed to do! 

If you're ready to take the leap and schedule your Special 28 Zoom session, you can do so using my virtual scheduling system here: https://calendly.com/yooperpaws/special28

If you have additional questions about the Special 28 package or other packages I offer, please feel free to reach out to me via email at yooperpaws@gmail.com or send me text at 906-399-0548. You can also send me a friend request if you prefer the FB messenger format.



Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Planning the Training Location

One of the biggest components to Planning for Success is choosing the environment that you will use for your training session. There are lots of things you may need to consider when choosing a location including your dog's previous experiences, how the environment will impact your dog's emotions, and what are your goals for the session.

Taking a look at previous experiences can really impact your session. Winter months making outdoor walking challenging in my climate and one of the few places we can walk safely is a 1 mile loop around a lake. Most of the trail is awesome, but there is a section that is nearly impossible to move off the trail if another dog comes from the opposite direction. Azul has been caught in the section multiple times and had dogs barking, lunging, and generally being obnoxious to him in this tight section of the trail. It's happened so frequently that Azul became hyper alert in this area, expecting to find another dog. 

Since I didn't want Azul to be in that hyper alert state as an adolescent we had to change our walk. We could start in the parking lot and walk either direction around the lake and as soon as Azul began to enter that hyper alert state we simply turned around and walked back to the car the same way we came, thus avoiding the confined space section. As winter faded, I started parking in a back lot that took us through the confined area right away when Azul was in high sniff mode which reduced his pulling and prevented Azul from scanning none stop for another dog. Once we were past the trouble spot, we could both enjoy the rest of the walk. And as spring set in, we were again able to move off the trail a bit if another dog came out way.

This same story also allows us to consider Azul's emotional state. He wasn't really fearful in this environment, but right on the edge of becoming over-excited at the very sight of another dog in this location. And since Azul was still in adolescence, he had very little self control. Over-reacting was not a behavior I wanted him to practice so avoiding that area was best.
And lastly, what was my goal for those sessions. In the winter, my goal was simple; outdoor exercise and sniffs. We accomplished that goal by walking half way and turning around heading back the way we came. But in the spring, the goal changed to slowly adding that area back into our normal walk. With that goal change, came changing the starting location, finding slow times of day to walk and adding in some parking lot focus training before we started out on the walk. Sometimes avoiding a situation is the best action you can take right now! Developing a plan for the future, when circumstances improve as a great way to set up for success.

There are 6 questions I like to ask myself before picking a training environment.

What is my overall goal for this session? Are we working on maintaining well known behaviors? Are we trying to generalize a new behavior in multiple environments? Are we trying to train around a specific distraction? The overall goal should be used to help you determine how busy of an environment you can realistically achieve success in.

What are the expected distractions in the environment? If we are working toward a behavior modification plan are trying to desensitizate our dog to a specific distraction, we want a calm environment where we can control those distractions. This typically means working with a second person who can direct the movement of the distraction. However if we are working on generalizing a cue such as paws up on various surfaces, we need an environment with lots of surfaces and outside distractions do not impact the session as much. Something's might be controlled by the environment, for example a train might be a distraction but it's working on a fixed track so we can predict where it is coming from and where it is heading, then adjust our session as needed.

What are the unexpected and uncontrollable distractions in the environment? For my area, this is generally wildlife; deer, bunnies, squirrels, etc. But this can also be kids, playing at the park or the unexpected skateboarder. We can't ask any of these distractions to give us more space or wait for us to move away. These types of distractions are very important to consider anytime we are training something new or mentally challenging.

What are the environmental reinforcers? Sometimes we can use things in the environment as a reinforcement for behaviors; a loose leash means you can sniff the p-mail. Yet other times the environment is self reinforcing to our dogs so we can't motivate them to do the work we want in that session. Sniffing is something that we can use to our favor, yet other times gets in our way when a dog can't stop sniffing long enough to hear what we are asking.

What is the visual range where we can safely watch the distraction at a distance when we can successfully train? If we are working on training around a high distraction such as other dogs, we want to be able to watch and observe from far away such as a baseball or football field. But if we are working on parkour skills or being able to make rapid turns as a team, then we need an environment that's going to have a much smaller field of vision.

What amount of freedom does my dog need to be successful in this session? If we are working with a distraction that triggers fear, we want our dog to have a longline so they have more control over how close they are getting to the distraction. If we are working on focus, check-ins, or hand targets so our dog will remain pretty close to us, then we can use a hands-free leash or short leash and take up less space in the environment.

We can't talk about setting the environment up for success without mentioning environmental processing! It's important that we let our dogs sniff and become acclimated to the environment before we begin training. We have multiple posts on environmental processing in this blog and hope to have a video soon to help you learn how to engage in the environment with your dog!

Stay tuned for the February Focus on Behaviors Theme coming soon!

Working Paws Comment

  Message Received from Group Member The Working Paws group is open to anyone training their dog with some more advanced skills typically fo...