Thursday, September 28, 2023

Having Cake with Clients

As a Canine Coach I get asked what tools I use to train dogs.
People are often shocked by my answer. Simply put, I want a nice fitting harness with both front & back clips and the longest leash that is safe for the environment we are in.
Azul is wearing a Y-front that has padded front and back pieces as well as front and back clips.

The Pet safe 3-in-1 is my preferred harness for adolescents who always struggle with impulse control. However they are pricey so not always best for rapidly growing puppies. A solid Y-front harness with a back clip that sits behind the shoulders is almost always acceptable. More crowded places require shorter leashes and less crowded places allow for nice longlines for safety.

Any tool designed to cause pain, restrict body movement or remove breathing is a HARD NO in my book.

Why I walked a dog on a slip lead a few nights ago.
Clients come into their first session with dogs wearing all sorts of unsafe gear. It's NOT their fault for believing advertising on the package or following the advice of same trainer they saw on TV or somewhere online. There are so many available options that it's nearly impossible to navigate the choices without help.

The dog a few nights ago came in a slip collar, which was designed to cut off a dog's oxygen if they pulled in an attempt to force a dog to walk with their human. I always try to switch unsafe gear out for safe gear at the beginning of the session. This dog was gear shy and already afraid of the harness previously used on the dog with previous owners. We help most of the session off leash as most first sessions are anyway. But the dog needed to go potty. So the choice became take the dog out on the gear they were used to or ignore his attempts at telling us he needed to go. We chose to take the dog out to potty in nearby grass.

Here is the dilemma!
My clients know I don't use these tools so seeing me use them can create controversy. Especially if this is discussed on social media sites that are often quick to condeem or point fingers.

In a perfect world, I would never in a million years choose to use any tool on a dog that was designed to cause pain. No dog deserves to be trained that way. 

We don't live in a perfect world! Sometimes we need to choose between two bad choices because a 3rd more acceptable choice isn't an option.

Had I told this client that their dog couldn't go out to potty because of a bad tool, that client may have felt like I was unfairly judging them and/or their dog. That client may have left that first session and never came back feeling too ashamed. Instead I shared kindness, awareness, knowledge, and empathy (CAKE) with the client. We created a plan to help desensitize the dog to a different style harness as well as a plan to work on the issues the client came in to address.
Compassion: letting the client know I'm there to support both human and dog family members.
Awareness: letting the client know that their concerns are valid and important to me.
Knowledge: info about what science tells us about the situation the human and dog are in. In this case, information about gear.
Empathy: letting the client know that I've experienced challenges in the past as well and I will help them as much as possible.

Everyone deserves CAKE!

Thanks Andrew Hale for teaching this dog trainers, behavior consultants and dog owners around the world through Dog Centered Care!
Dog Centered Care on YouTube 



Azul will be having his neuter surgery on Oct 5th so I've disabled my automatic scheduling system for 10 days.

He may heal quickly or heal slowly so I'll be making all appointments in person instead of automatically.

I will still be holding classes and group activities such as the Monday Night FAD Family Pets Class &  the Wednesday Morning Group Walk that week as scheduled as long as there are not unexpected complications.

Any private sessions that are already scheduled such as my weekly and bi-weekly clients will still keep their regular appointment times. Anyone who is not already scheduled should reach out to me via text to schedule so that I can base it on how quickly Azul is healing and how busy that day is already.

At this time I'm not taking on any more new clients that have not already scheduled and/or attended their Behavior Evaluation until the last week of October.

This does impact the Paws & Play Members only to the point of the automatic scheduler is turned off, so place email or text to schedule your session and we will make sure you have access as needed.

Please feel free to reach out to me via email at or text at 906-399-0548 to discuss any problems you are having and to schedule your session.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Distracted Dog Days

Announcing the Distracted Dog Days Sessions

Great news! This package was so great in August that we are offering it again in October!
This is a special package designed to give you and your dog all the support you need to become a successful team.

The highlight of this package, starts with one 4 hour session that allows us to evaluate needs, train needed skills and create individualized training exercises to practice skills in a safe environment then transfer those skills to a real life environment. 

New clients will attend with their dog for all sessions.

Returning clients can choose to drop their dog off for most of the session and come back at the end to see what we learned and how to do the training at home.

That sounds like A LOT and it might be overwhelming, doesn't it? But don't worry! This is achieved by moving back and forth between calm restful periods and higher energy periods specifically geared towards your easily distractible dog. 

One of the key struggles with easily distracted dogs is their inability to self regulate their arousal level. Once they get excited or amped up, they simply can't come back down to a calm level on their own. Your dog is not alone in this struggle!  The good news is that we can help them learn how to settle back down!

After your half day session (4hrs), we will do 2 follow up sessions (up to 2 hours each) spread out over the next month. That's up to 8 hours of Day Session Training for your dog!

You'll also receive up to 4 Hrs of pre-recorded webinar that you can view on your own time OR access to 1 online class. During your 30 Dog Days Package, you'll basically have a Trainer in your back pocket with unlimited text/message support to get rapid answers to your questions.

You won't find a more complete package out there! Message us for more details and to schedule your 4 Hr Dog Day Session!

Reinforcement Workshop

The Understanding Reinforcement Lunch & Learn Workshop has been changed from Sept 27th to October 18th at 1pm Central!

Food is considered a primary reinforcer because all animals need to eat to survive. Delivering food as reinforcement is often the easiest way for an owner to develop strong mechanics and fast delivery speeds to help the dog learn. 

What do you do if your dog doesn't like food or has to follow a specific diet? 

What your dog will take food inside in low distraction environments but not outside in high distraction environments?

There are many reasons to train with and without food! Without food as a motivator, how can you teach the dog new skills?

These are among the many things we will be discussing in this Lunch & Learn Workshop. The Understanding Reinforcement Workshop will be free to attend and the replay available for 30 days for all who register. After that, it goes into the vault and only available through the Challenging Behaviors Series which will not be free!

July Party Schedule

Announcing our Summer Session Special! We are starting with an altered scheduled for July 1st -3rd Monday, July 1st, all of our Group Walker...