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Doling out training sessions
Online Titles: Do they mean anything?
Questions From Class II
Parkour Fun!
Questions from Class Series - #1

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Doling out training sessions

You know what’s valuable to dogs? What dogs really, really love? Training sessions. If you’re doing it right, most dogs loooove training sessions. The toys come out, the treats come out, you show up ready for fun and action, the dog gets to exercise its brain and hopefully win a lot of treats. In fact for many dogs, the daily training session is one of the highlights of the entire day!

You can use your dogs love of training sessions for many things that will further reinforce your dogs obedience and manners.

Online Titles: Do they mean anything?

It used to be, if you wanted to earn titles for your dog, you had to show up at an AKC (American Kennel Club) competitive event (or multiple ones), complete the necessary qualifications, and submit for your title. The AKC was *the* only titling venue available. (Well, there was also the UKC, or "United Kennel Club," and a few agility organizations, but the main one was the AKC.)

For those people who couldn't take off sometimes an entire weekend to attend a show, who disliked high entry fees (usually $30 per class, at least, and obviously you can't even be certain you'll qualify on any given day, no matter how good your dog is), or for those whose dogs suffered from anxiety or ring stress or multiple other problems.

Questions From Class II

This week's question is about leash walking.

In class, there are three different methods used for training loose leash walking. I like to teach students all three, because different dogs respond to different techniques in different ways -- usually there is one of the methods which seems to particularly stick with the dog. 

Technique #1 doesn't use treat rewards; instead the walk itself functions as the reward, and the dog is allowed to continue walking as long as it doesn't pull. If it pulls, then the walk comes to a halt.

Parkour Fun!

Over the last few weeks, my Golden retriever "Halo" and I have taken up the new sport of Dog Parkour -- urban agility. It's sooooo much fun!

We've done some training for agility, but I only have room in my yard for a few jumps and some weave poles, so we can't do the contact obstacles such as A-frames and teeter-totters. This is unfortunate, because although Halo's good at jumping and weaving, it's the contact obstacles that she really needs to practice on. I definitely don't have time to go and drive her to locations/facilities that have full courses available, because I'm so busy!

Questions from Class Series - #1

Last night kicked off spring term's Beginning Obedience Level 1 class. We're off and running! Classes are full of good questions, and I have the idea to make a running series of blog posts highlighting a question from each night's class.

So we'll jump right in!

Context: We were practicing "automatic attention" -- where the dog looks at you and pays attention to you (without you needing to give an attention command) in distracting or novel situations. For beginners, this is done by waiting for the dog to look at you, then marking "Yes!

Power III: How to Use It

If you read the last two entries in the "power series," you've so far learned that both handlers and their dogs bring to the table their own levels of power and self-determination to the table. To be a great handler, you can use your observation and experience with dogs to either raise or lower your power as needed, depending on what a specific dog needs at any specific time.

Start by just looking at your dog and his body language. A good guideline is that the more active your dogs body language and movement, the more power you can use in your handling.

Power II: Do you have a Power Dog?

A "power dog" sounds either kind of cool...or kind of terrifying. What do trainers mean when they talk about a "power dog?" (sometimes also called a "high-power dog.")

Usually they are not referring to the dog's physical strength, or how much physical power the dog has. "Power" in this case means how assertive the dog is and how confident he or she is in getting his way.

To help understand the difference between a high-power dog and a low-power dog, let's look at a series of dogs on a scale from low to high power.

Power Series Part I: Low or High Power?

When I go to do assessments or to meet with new clients, they (the humans) generally fall into one of two camps:

Some are the "High Power" handlers. These are strong, confident, assertive handlers. They know exactly what they want out of the dog and will not accept anything else. They are very much the boss, and the dog very much subservient. They tend to be more directive to the dog, telling it what to do in each situation and circumstance. Power handlers usually have excellent timing and tremendous focus on the dog and are in control at all times.

Benefits of Overtraining

I'm actually a huge fan of "overtraining," which is training the dog to a level much higher than that needed for daily life or whatever . For example, if you need the dog to be able to hold a few quick sit-stays or down-stays, then your first thought might be to teach an up to 30-second stay, and then add a few basic distractions such as a food drop or a tossed toy. Once you've gotten your dog to do this 30-second stay with a couple of distractions, you figure you're good to go.

Trapped in the house!

Apparently everybody survived the "Northwest Onslaught," or whatever they were calling that big rainy storm a couple weeks back.

Did your dog get crazy pent-up cabin fever? I know that lots of dogs did! The rain will continue for many more months (welcome to Portland fall/winter/spring!) so probably a good idea to start putting your rainy-day plans together.

First off, dogs tend to react to rainy days in the same way as little kids do! On one of the rainiest days, I was working with an enormous, 1-year-old dog, and I could just SEE the boredom in his face.
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