Getting The Most From Dog Training Classes

By Lisa-Anne Manolius | January 25, 2012 ~ Be the 1st to Comment

Getting The Most From Dog Training Classes

Trainers and other dog behavior experts urge people to enroll their dogs in group training classes, and with good reason. Group classes are a fine way to teach most dogs basic manners they need to thrive in human society and homes. Puppy classes that include plenty of off-leash playtime are essential for teaching pups bite inhibition, polite play skills, dog-dog communication skills as well as manners. Specialty classes like doggy dancing/canine freestyle, agility, and nose work ramp up the fun factor, and provide additional energy outlets for dogs. And all group classes are excellent opportunities to give dogs much-needed mental workouts, as well as practice in responding to their humans amidst abundant distractions.

How do you and your dog get the most out of dog training classes? Read on for some tips. Continue Reading

The Right Group Training Class for Rover

By Lisa-Anne Manolius | January 19, 2012 ~ 1 Comment

The Right Group Training Class for Rover

“A rose is a rose is a rose,” wrote Gertrude Stein, but the same isn’t true for dog training classes.

There are classes just for pups, adolescents, or adults; in basic and advanced manners; to improve a particular skill like coming when called or loose leash walking; for shy or fearful dogs; for leash reactive dogs; specialty classes such as tricks, freestyle, agility, rally, nose work and treibball; and more!

With so many classes to choose from, how do you make sure a group training class is the right fit for your dog? Read on for some tips and important considerations. Continue Reading

Happy 2012 & Train Your Dog Month!

By Lisa-Anne Manolius | January 05, 2012 ~ 1 Comment

Happy 2012 & Train Your Dog Month!

January is National Train Your Dog month – a grand kick-off to another year with your best furry friend. If you haven’t heard, positive reinforcement training is one of the best ways to enhance your relationship with Rover.

Relationship: the way in which two or more concepts, objects or people are connected, or the state of being connected.

Some may think true relationships exist only between humans, but we do indeed have relationships with our dogs. Continue Reading

January is Train Your Dog Month

By Lisa-Anne Manolius | January 03, 2011 ~ 2 Comments

January is Train Your Dog Month

It’s that time again when the new year stretches out shiny, new and full of promise. January also happens to be the APDT’s second annual National Train Your Dog Month (TYDM), which is a wonderful coincidence because training your dog the positive way promises to yield happy results for you and your pooch.

Whether you have a newly adopted dog, a bouncing –off-the-walls adolescent dog, or a senior dog, ongoing positive training is essential for polite doggy behavior. Teach your new dog good manners from the get go, polish up Rover’s rusty recalls and other important behaviors, take a class, or train your dog to do a snazzy trick.

Reward-based training is easy and fun for you and your dog.  And that’s not all. It builds doggy confidence, ensures that your dog will engage more often in behaviors you like, gives her mental exercise and helps prevent boredom.

Love your dog? Then train him!

Love your dog? Then train him!

Who cares if your dog is bored? Well, it’s a good bet that your dog does. Being perpetually bored is no way for a critter to live. (I don’t know about you, but boredom drives me positively bonkers.) Aside from the fact that boredom is a serious drag, a bored doggy is very likely to get into mischief like chewing up your stuff, digging in your houseplants, or barking all the time.  

Problem behavior that could have been prevented or resolved through positive training is one of the leading causes of dogs losing their homes and ending up in shelters. If you love your dog – and I know you do – and you want a long happy life together, a lifetime of positive training is one of the best gifts you can give her and yourself.

Check out the TYDM website for free training tips or to enter this year’s Photo/Video contest. And check out my blog for upcoming posts on useful and cool stuff you can teach your dog.

Happy New Year! Happy Training!

“Instead Of Thinking” – Dealing With Unwanted Behavior

By Lisa-Anne Manolius | January 19, 2010 ~ 3 Comments

“Instead Of Thinking” – Dealing With Unwanted Behavior

One of the most frequent concerns among dog guardians is how to stop unwanted behavior. As Jean Donaldson explains in her phenomenal book, The Culture Clash, much of natural dog behavior is at odds with what humans find acceptable.

Dogs however, need appropriate outlets for their energies, which are usually significantly higher than ours. Without legal channels for behavior and energy, dogs become frustrated, bored, and stressed. In that unfortunate condition, it’s just a matter of time before dogs find other ways to vent. Behavior borne of frustration and boredom is often even worse and less acceptable to humans than the original unwanted behavior. Excessive barking, destructive chewing, fence fighting, and digging are just some of the behaviors in which frustrated and bored will engage. Besides all that, it’s not fair or humane to consign any animal to a life of chronic boredom, frustration or stress.

Enter, “Instead Of Thinking.” It’s not enough to find ways to shut down undesirable behavior. A far more effective strategy is to train your dog to do alternative behaviors that are acceptable and incompatible with the undesired behavior.

Let’s use jumping up as an example. Jumping up is a natural normal dog behavior. Dogs do it to greet us by getting closer to our faces. But most people don’t like it when Rover jumps on them. This is a classic instance of the clash between behavior that humans deem acceptable and that which is acceptable and common among dogs.

Well hello!

Well hello!

Typically humans think in terms of, How can I get Rover to stop jumping up? “Instead Of Thinking” asks a different question: What would I like Rover to do instead of jumping up?

Instead Of Thinking solves two problems at once: it stops the unwanted behavior while providing Rover with an acceptable alternative.

Sitting to greet people is an alternative behavior that’s acceptable and incompatible with jumping up. If Rover is sitting to say hello to people, he isn’t jumping on them. The training plan would be two-fold. You’d stop rewarding Rover altogether for jumping up, teach him to sit to say hello, and reward him with attention and lovies when he sits.

With consistent positive training, voila! Rover will learn that jumping up never works to get human attention but sitting does. If everyone who meets Rover follows the same plan, his jumping should decrease substantially and eventually stop. Instead of jumping on folks he’ll do lovely sits to say hello, and he gets a legal outlet for his exuberant greeting energy. Doing a short down stay or hand-targeting are two other examples of alternative behaviors that are incompatible with jumping up.

Rover won’t learn these things overnight, especially if he has a long history of jumping up and being rewarded with some kind of attention when he does that. Patient consistent practice will pay off so hang in there with your training plan.

The next time you find yourself wondering how to stop Rover from doing X, put on your Instead Of Thinking cap. Ask yourself, What would I like Rover to do instead of X? Then start training Rover to do the alternative behavior, reward him handsomely when he does it and stop rewarding him for doing X.

Rewarding Rover for desirable alternative behavior is a powerful tool in your training kit, and means he’ll do more of that behavior in the future.

Happy Training!