canine behavior

Blog, Training and Behavior Tips

Basic Manners 101: The Polished Puppy and the Courteous Canine

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Join us on Sunday, February 23, 2014, for the first session of a four-week Basic Manners class! Taught by Melissa Anderson Knox, a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, the class is open for registration. To maximize learning and safety, the class is limited to six dogs (and their owners), so be sure to register now and guarantee your place. Call us at (972) 785-2983 or drop us an email to make your reservation.


This 4-week course will provide you and your pup a review of basic behaviors that create and establish a foundation of learning that, when maintained, can launch into the exciting world of canine sports and learning tricks.

This class will review the following behaviors: Sit, Stay, Down, Off, Leave it, Watch Me, Walking on Leash, Coming When Called. Only postive reinforcement/science-based training methods will be applied in this class.

Prerequisite for this group class:

1. Your dog must be current on all vaccinations.
2. No aggressive or fearful dogs.

Required Equipment:

1. Standard buckle collar with ID
2. Six foot leash (leather or nylon). Harnesses and head halters are permitted as long as your dog is already familiar with and accepts this type of equipment.
3. Treats! At least two different kinds that your dog loves. If your dog is not food motivated, then a favorite toy can work as well.
4. No flexi leashes, chain leashes, prong collars, or shock collars.

Meetings Dates: Sundays, 11:00 am to 12pm

February 23
March 2
March 9
March 16

Fee: $100.00 per dog.

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Blog, Training and Behavior Tips

Ask the Trainer: Winter Activities for Dogs

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6745761375_e3ebd1e071The thermometer has fallen and the snow is drifting in the yard. The roads have iced over. Fido and Fluffy stare out the window, pleading for you to make the weather turn warm again.
No matter the conditions outside, your indoor dogs need exercise every day to help them stay healthy and fit. Here are some easy and fun ideas to help battle the winter woes when it just too darn cold to play outside.

Play Fetch

Locate a good space to play fetch and clear the path of all obstacles. Consider a carpeted area if your dog is elderly, has a physical ailment, or if your dog has long nails. Sliding on a slippery floor can be painful or startling if your pup can’t get a good grip.
Snatch up your pup’s favorite toy and get his attention. Toss it down the hallway or across the room and encourage him to go get it. Once he reaches the toy, call your dog back to you and repeat. If your dog has not learned to fetch (retrieve), have a second (but equally exciting) toy ready to toss when your pups returns to you. Toss the second toy when he drops the first. Playing fetch several times a day can be a great way to blow off steam for you and your dog!

Hide-and-Seek (Three Options)

1. Hide several high-value treats in the living room where you know your dog can find them. Encourage him with “FIND IT!” as he searches. Once he gets the game, hide the treat in more challenging locations such as in between couch cushions, under the corner of a rug, under a table, etc.
2. For dogs that are toy driven, follow the same protocol as the treats. Bury the toy in the pillows or under an old towel. I like burying a toy in a laundry basket full of old towels.
3. Hide yourself! I like hiding in the shower or behind a door. Let your dog find you and refrain from jumping out or startling your dog. When you are ready to advance, try hiding under a blanket. You are the reward; I dare to try to keep from giggling and giving yourself away!

Take Brief Walks or Play Outside

As long as you and your dog are safe and prepared for the winter weather at hand, several short but quick and intense walks or play sessions outside can be a good idea. Not all dogs are acclimated to cold temperatures (think Husky versus Greyhound) so ensure your dog is comfortable when you venture outside. Avoid wet weather. Short but energetic and active sessions are best.

Brain Games

Puzzle games, Kongs, and treat balls can all help alleviate boredom and keep your dog entertained and there many on the market to choose from. You can even use them to feed your dog his breakfast! If using treats, be mindful of what kind and how much, since it’s easy to add extra calories, salt, and sugar to your pup’s diet.
Photo by spaceamoeba on Flickr.
Blog, Training and Behavior Tips

Ask the Trainer: Can you teach an old dog new tricks?

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teach an old dog new tricksThe answer is YES!

Here are some key considerations that will set up you (and your pooch) for success.

1. Identify what your dog likes to do: Dogs’ personalities don’t change much after puppyhood. Often, fearful or anxious dogs may remain that way. However most dogs, when you realize what motivates them, are eager to learn at any age.

2. Keep it simple: Teach one word commands. Polish up the standard behaviors your dog most likely learned as a youngster; sit, down, go to your bed, etc. Even though your dog may know these, reward your dog when that behavior occurs naturally. For example, give your dog a high value food treat for sitting, lying down, go to your bed, shake, etc. The frequency of his performing the behavior will increase if the reward is appreciated.

3. Build on what they already know: If your dog knows fetch, for example, the fundamental behavior is a retrieve (identifying a target and bringing it to you). This can be trained into the trick of “cleaning your room” – picking up toys or other things and putting them into a basket.

4. Consider your dog’s physical capabilities: Many older dogs may suffer from physical ailments such as arthritis, stiffness, etc. If your dog has a tough time getting up and down, jumping, etc. then determine what other tricks (behaviors) can be taught while keeping your dog comfortable. If your dog is slightly deaf, you may have to speak louder.

5. Make it fun: The very act of spending time with the dog, plus the sense of accomplishment and understanding that teaching and learning brings, is well worth the effort and improves the quality of both the pet parent and pet’s life. Punishment based techniques are unacceptable, especially for older dogs. Teaching your old dog new tricks can keep him focused and mentally active for a long time. This philosophy can be applied to the human and the dog. Enjoy your time together and make it fun!