This article was also published in Speaking of Dogs June 2014 Newsletter:
We had long winter months where most people preferred to stay indoors, the parks were empty, and you could have long walks with your dog in the city and barely see anyone. The warm weather arrived pretty suddenly and has now caught some of us dog owners by surprise. All of a sudden skateboarders are passing us left and right, mountain bikers dive out of the bush right in front of our dogs’ noses, joggers have multiplied by the hundreds, and just as you are about to put that poop bag in the garbage, a cyclist passes you and your dog at the speed of light and at a distance of an inch.
This article was also published in Speaking of Dogs December 2014 Newsletter:
When we send out questionnaires to clients who sign up for behaviour modification training because their dog is reactive toward dogs or people, we always ask the question: “What are your expectations from the training sessions?” The title of this article is the most common answer that I have seen, and every time I see it confuses me: what does “getting along” mean?
The foundation of training a reactive dog is management to keep the dog’s stress level down and to prevent them from practicing the unwanted behaviors. We talk about this constantly in our Cranky Canine classes. I have always understood that management is difficult in a city of over 5 million people and certainly have experienced it myself, too. Nevertheless, I always wondered, why on earth do people find it so difficult. Well, this summer I certainly discovered that for me it was impossible.
Here is a movie of Fenton, a Labrador who became a Youtube sensation after he decided to chase some deer at Richmond Park in UK. I’m sure most of us find this movie kind of funny but have also been in a similar situation with our own dogs when it becomes somewhat less funny.
Most dogs quickly develop an emotional response to the leash being clipped on. At home it is usually a happy emotion as it predicts a walk, but outside it can turn into a different story.
Your dog has just had a nice off-leash time running around in the park, and it is time to go home. You are approaching the spot where you usually leash up your dog or you are trying to catch him from play. Continue reading
This article was also published in Speaking of Dogs November 2013 Newsletter:
I guess I’m not the average dog owner: I got a dog over 10 years ago because I wanted to explore what their noses can do. I purposefully got a working dog breed and started training tracking as well as search and rescue with her. I’m still on the same track (excuse the pun!) with my current dog. It always amazes me how much dogs love using their noses and how it tires them out. Continue reading
My dog Forbes and I are going to a tracking trial on Sunday. We had two attempts towards getting a Tracking Dog title last year, both failed. It would be nice to get that ribbon this time, no doubt about it. I have been trying to train systematically, in different places etc. but as it so often happens right before a trial, things start to go poorly: Forbes hasn’t been terribly motivated lately. This week I put him on a boot-camp program where he he has been fed only in the mornings when we track in an attempt to increase his drive towards working. Until last night, when I decided to screw it! Continue reading