Successful Dogs Tell Us They Get It

Successful Dogs Tell Us They Get It

We know that dogs communicate with us all of the time, whether we notice it or not.  However, can they let us know when they have learned a skill we are teaching?  Stanley Coren says yes, in his article, “Does A Dog’s Body Language Tell Us How Much He Has Learned?

The Seed Is Planted

01b9b5e3e087a8de3617d76d771e5d800e23a34e0cCoren began paying attention after a dog trainer mentioned that he noticed his dogs almost exhibited pushy, “dominant” behavior when they started to catch on to a new behavior.  Instead of lolling tongues and wagging tails, the ears would go forward and tails up.

One he started paying attention, Coren began noticing this as well, mostly in dogs that were relatively new to learning.  He then found a Japanese study that had looked into this premise.  It was a team from the Azabu University School of Veterinary Medicine and was headed by Masashi Hasegawa.

The Study

The study involved 46 dogs with no prior obedience training.  The goal was to teach them to sit using just a hand signal.  They used luring – moving a food treat from in front of the dog’s nose to over their head to lure them into a sit.  The sessions were 5 minutes long and documented via video.  Video was also taken of the dogs during non-training times to compare behaviors.  The videos were then scored, focusing on the ears, mouth, eyes, tail carriage, and wagging.

The Body Language Results

Mouths:  Successful dogs were more prone to keeping their mouths shut, generally a sign of focus and concentration.

Ears:  Successful dogs would have their ears rotated forward which is, again, a sign of focused attention.

Eyes:  Successful dogs had wider than normal eyes, especially when staring at their trainer.

Tail:  Successful dogs generally held their tail high and still, or vibrating slightly.

Is It Dominance?

Coren feels that “dominance” is too strong of a word for the behaviors exhibited.  He feels that the successful dogs are showing strong, confident behavior once they have figured out the task.  They get bolder and more pushy once they have “solved” the problem, and they want to keep training to continue earning treats.

Impact For Modern Dog Trainers

So what does this mean for you, as a modern dog trainer?  We generally consider closed mouths, forward ears, and high, barely moving tails as signs of intensity and possibly nearing their threshold, so we often try to take things down a notch when we see these occurring.  You will need to keep in mind that if you are training a green dog, or teaching a brand new skill, these behaviors may pop up and you should celebrate them.  The dog is telling you she’s got it!  Obviously, everything needs to be kept in context – if you are working with a reactive dog outside, he MAY be going over threshold.  So it will be up to you to monitor the surroundings and take in the big picture.

Have you noticed these behaviors in any dogs that you’ve been training?  Tell us about it!

Dog Training Business Tips

Receive valuable dog training business tips and resources right in your inbox! Subscribe to The Modern Dog Trainer now by submitting your name and email below. Don’t forget to let us know what you want to learn more about!

[mc4wp_form]

Car Safety For Dogs

Car Safety For Dogs

With winter coming upon us, it is more important than ever to encourage your clients to evaluate how their dogs ride in the car.  Many of our clients are perfectly content to allow their pooch to roam freely around the car, or even sit in the driver’s lap or on the windshield while the car is in motion.  Though some think this is harmless and makes for cute pictures, all it takes is a split second for the client and their dog’s lives to get impacted forever.

Car safety cannot be emphasized enough with clients.  As modern dog trainers, it is up to you to emphasize safety in all aspects of dog’s lives, not just immediate training needs.  As somebody who has spun off the road with my dog in the car (fortunately we were both buckled in so did not get injured), car safety is a high priority.  So what are options for car safety, and what behaviors does a dog need to know?

Car Harnesses

Car Safety

Photo courtesy of Liz Wyant

Harness are probably the easiest, most cost-efficient and space-saving option for most dog owners.  A good harness will be wide across the chest and fully cover the chest down to the girth, but without hindering the neck or shoulders.  It will have some padding and solid metal hardware.  There are generally two main attachment points for car harnesses – either a metal hook that attaches to a sturdy strap and carabiner (as pictured below), or a loop that the car’s seatbelt will go through before being latched.  Either way, the dog should be able to sit, stand, or lie down, but not be able to roam around.  If they can move too far, that means they will not be as secure in case of an accident.  Look for harnesses that have actual safety ratings.  The harness in these pictures is Kurgo’s Tru-Fit Enhanced Strength Harness.

Car Safety

Photo courtesy of Liz Wyant

What behaviors should the dog know?

  • The dog should be happy about wearing a harness, especially one that has a little more coverage than most walking-type harnesses.
  • The dog should be able to sit quietly in one place without panicking.  If the dog is spinning around, they can get tangled in the harness and injure themselves while also distracting the driver.
  • The dog should wait to be invited into the car, and also should wait to be invited OUT of the car.

Crates

Photo courtesy of Laurie Schlossnagle.

Photo courtesy of Laurie Schlossnagle.

A solid, well-secured crate will be safer than a car harness as it will not only keep the dog from being flung around the car, but it will keep other flying items from impacting the dog.  The best of the best when it comes to car-specific crates is the Mim Variocage.  However, as these are rather pricey, they are out of limits for most people.  The next best is a variokennel or wire crate that is, again, properly secured to the car.  A crate will be no use if it can go bouncing around the car because it is not secured.  You want to make sure it’s just big enough for the dog to fit comfortably, but not spacious enough for them to be able to sprawl out and have oodles of room.  Again, the goal is car safety and keeping them secure in case of an accident.

Photo courtesy of Amie Glasgow

Photo courtesy of Amie Glasgow

What behaviors should the dog know?

  • The dog needs to be crate-trained so they do not panic when placed in the crate.
  • The dog should know how to chew appropriately provided toys/bones instead of fussing with the straps securing the crate to the vehicle.
  • The dog should wait to be invited into the car, and also should wait to be invited OUT of the car.

What NOT To Do

  1.  Allow the dog to hang his/her head out the window – Even at slow speeds, debris is kicked off the road by other vehicles and may severely injure the dog.
  2. Allow the dog to ride on the driver’s lap – A dog in the driver’s lap is incredibly distracting for the driver.  And if there is a car accident, there is a high likelihood the airbag impact will kill the dog.
  3. Allow the dog to ride on the dashboard – In the case of an accident, a dog riding on the dashboard has very little chance of escaping unscathed.  Also, they will hinder visibility and act as a distraction for the driver.
  4. Use a collar and leash to secure dog to headrest or other part of car – in case of an accident, all that pressure suddenly pulling on the dog’s collar will cause SERIOUS injury.
  5. Fail to have identification on dog – If there is an accident, and your dog manages to get loose, it is imperative that they have a collar with tags on so they can be quickly reunited.  Microchips are wonderful, too, but only as backup to a collar and tags.

What tips do you have for car safety for dogs?

Dog Training Business Tips

Receive valuable dog training business tips and resources right in your inbox! Subscribe to The Modern Dog Trainer now by submitting your name and email below. Don’t forget to let us know what you want to learn more about!

[mc4wp_form]

Top 10 Reasons To Join The IAABC

There are many professional organizations out there for dog trainers to join.  How do you possibly decide which one(s) to give your money to?  I recently joined the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) as a basic supporting member, and could not be happier with my decision.  Following are the top 10 reasons to consider joining the IAABC:

  1. Free videos for CEU’s – Once you join the IAABC, even if you are joining at the basic supporting membership level, you have immediate access to free lectures and webinars.  These are changed/added to on a regular basis.  But not only are they free; you can actually earn CEU’s for watching them and answering a few quick questions!
  2. Conference registration discounts – I was given the honor of attending the IAABC’s dog behavior conference in Chicago earlier this year, and I can honestly say it was one of the most educational and beneficial conferences I’ve ever attended.  As a member of the IAABC, you get discounted ticket prices to their conferences.  They already have their dog and cat conference scheduled for 2016, and for 2017 they are hoping to add horse and parrot conferences as well.
  3. Member discounts – Enjoy discounts to Dogwise, Tawzer Dog, The Clicker Company, Behavior Works, E-Training for Dogs, and Dogsafe.
  4. IAABC Animal Behavior Consulting courses – As part of their education initiative, you can take online courses that are interactive and educational.  The first one they are offering is “Conducting Remote Feline Behavior Consultations.”  IAABC members get a 15% discount on the course, but they also offered a code to audit it for free.  They are soon going to be collaborating with the Karen Pryor Academy to offer discounts on coursework.      
  5. Discussions – The IAABC offers many different ways to converse/consult with fellow members.  You can talk to people via their very active Facebook member group, LinkedIn, and Yahoo groups.  There is a general members Yahoo group along with species-specific groups.  As a member, you are welcome to join any/all of the species-specific groups to benefit from the shared knowledge.
  6. Appropriate for all skill levels – There is no need for advanced degrees and decades of training experience to join the IAABC.  Trainers of all skill levels will benefit from the offered courses, conferences, and discussions with other members.
  7. Inclusive of all science-based trainers – Here at The Modern Dog Trainer, we endorse force-free training methods.  The IAABC follows the LIMA principle – Least Invasive, Minimally Aversive.  That means there may be some people you interact with that use training methods/tools you might not agree with.  However, so much can be gained when people are able to have honest, level-headed, thoughtful discussions with those from different backgrounds/philosophies.
  8. Multi-species – When you sign up with the IAABC, you choose a “division” – dog, cat, parrot, horse, or working animal.  That being said, you are permitted to join the other divisions’ discussion lists and watch any of the videos.  Even if you never plan on training anything but dogs, there is always something to be learned from watching other species get trained.
  9. Upcoming Principles & Practice course – Launching in 2016, this will be a multi-week, multi-module, multi-speaker self-study course.  This course will provide an overview of the many facets of animal behavior consulting for all species, from domestic animals to exotics, appropriate for experienced animal behavior consultants and practitioners as well as those newer to the field.            
  10. Committed to higher standards – The IAABC heavily promotes continued learning and has an extensive Code of Ethics that members must follow.  The IAABC is constantly evolving and adding new educational opportunities and programs for members.

Are you a member of the IAABC or other professional organization?  Tell us about it!

Dog Training Business Tips

Receive valuable dog training business tips and resources right in your inbox!</strong> Subscribe to The Modern Dog Trainer now by submitting your name and email below. Don’t forget to let us know what you want to learn more about!
[mc4wp_form]

5 Must-Haves For A Seminar

5 Must-Haves For A Seminar

As a modern dog trainer, you most likely enjoy furthering your education via seminars.  They are even better when you can score a working spot with your dog.  But it is important to remember some essential supplies for both you and your dog to ensure you both have a fun, safe experience.

Crate

Image taken by Liz Wyant

Image taken by Liz Wyant

All seminars have down time between working sessions.  During this time, you want to make sure your dog has a safe, comfortable place to relax and recharge.  A crate is preferable to a mat because the leash can come off and they can easily curl up and take a snooze without worrying about other dogs getting in their space.  Obviously it’s important to make sure your dog is comfortable being crated with other dogs around.

Water And Treats

This one is for both you and your dog.  Though some seminars provide snacks and beverages for the human half of the equation, it is still a good idea to bring your own just in case.  Also, you will obviously want to make sure you have plenty of water and treats for your dog.  Your dog will be working hard and will appreciate fresh, cool water and plenty of treat rewards.

Pen And Notepad

If there are going to be lecture portions of the seminar, which most do have, you’ll want to make sure you have writing materials so you can take notes.  Nothing worse than having the presenter say something brilliant and then not being able to remember it later.

Business Cards

Seminars are fantastic for networking!  Make sure you have a stack of business cards you can share as you meet new people.  And make sure to get their cards, too.  It’s always fantastic to have plenty of options for referring/consulting.

Sense Of Humor/Open Mind

Murphy’s Law is right – if something can go wrong, it will.  Being able to maintain a sense of humor will keep you relaxed, thereby keeping your dog relaxed.  It is so important to remember that yes, you are there to learn and improve your skills, but your dog’s happiness needs to come first.  You’re there to bond with your dog and improve your teamwork.  If you are getting stressed out, your dog will shut down and tune you out and have a miserable time.

What do you find imperative to bring with you to a seminar?

Get Dog Training Business Tips!

Receive valuable dog training business tips and resources every week! Subscribe to The Modern Dog Trainer now by submitting your name and email below.

[mc4wp_form]

Teaming Up With A Rescue

Teaming Up With A Rescue

teaming up with a rescue as a dog trainer

At some point in a dog trainer’s career, they are going to get approached by a rescue asking to work with them for a discount.  How do you decide if this is a wise decision?

Are You Willing?

This is the often the hardest decision.  Are you willing to discount your prices, possibly drastically, to assist a rescue with their fosters and adopters?  This is a personal decision that nobody can make for you.  Is it going to impact the time you can spend with full-cost clients?  Are you going to offer to help a limited number of hours/fosters a week?  Are you going to offer a discounted rate not only to current fosters that the rescue is paying for, but also adopters from that rescue?

Is It A Reputable Rescue?

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of rescues in every big city.  How do you determine which ones you are willing to attach your name to?  As a modern dog trainer, you are probably passionate about using only force-free methods.  Does your potential rescue affiliate feel the same way, or will they be alternating between you and a more aversive trainer?  That can be confusing for both the dogs and the fosters trying to work with them, so you need to decide if it’s worth laying out restrictions that dogs you work with can ONLY work with you.  Or decide if you want to skip that rescue entirely if they are not willing to commit to force-free training.

Are You Confident Referring To Other Trainers?

There are a great many dogs out there with serious issues – aggression to dogs/people/small furry animals, resource guarding, separation anxiety, etc.  If you do not have enough experience to safely and effectively work with these animals, are you confident in admitting that?  And do you have the trainer connections to be able to refer the rescue to another trainer that can work with those issues?

Can You Handle The Emotional Baggage?

Rescues have limited resources.  Because of this, they may not have the money or dedicated fosters required to work through some longer-term issues like reactivity or separation anxiety.  This means the dogs may get shuffled to another rescue (and possibly a harsher trainer), or they may get euthanized.  Are you going to be able to handle knowing that a dog you worked with got euthanized because you couldn’t “fix” it in the allotted time frame?

Choosing to work with a rescue is a big commitment.  However, if you can find a good rescue, you may find that your clientele increases, offsetting your reduced rate, because they recommend you to their adopters.  You’ll have the pleasure of watching foster homes learn how to train humanely, and see dogs with less than perfect prior lives come out of their shells or learn to stay home alone or walk nicely on leash.  You’ll have great satisfaction when you see one of the dogs you worked with get into an amazing home, and you know that you helped with that.  It’s not a decision to be made lightly, but it can be immensely fulfilling.

What tips do you have for working with rescues?

Product Review – Ruffwear Omnijore Joring System

Product Review – Ruffwear Omnijore Joring System

As a dog trainer, you probably spend a great deal of your time teaching dogs not to pull on leash.  But in some situations, pulling is perfectly fine.  However, if you are going to allow a dog to pull with strength, they need to be in a well-fitting harness, and you need to avoid having your arm dislocated.  Enter from stage left: the Ruffwear Omnijore™ Joring System.  The system includes a harness, stretchy towline, and a padded hipbelt for the human half of the fun, as well as a mesh bag for keeping it conveniently contained when not in use.

With the optional rear waist strap

With the optional rear waist strap

Minus the optional rear waist strap

Minus the optional rear waist strap

The Harness

Ruffwear makes superb products, so we were not surprised to find that this set was fantastic.  We’ll start with the harness.  Their measuring guide is spot-on, and if you already have a Ruffwear harness you are safe ordering the same size.  It was a little unwieldy to get on as it has minimal clips, so you have to slide it over your dog’s head and then maneuver their legs through the straps.  Have treats handy if your dog does not enjoy weird handling.  Once it is on though, it’s marvelous.  The straps are incredibly adjustable, in 4 separate locations, ensuring a perfect fit.  The harness goes a little longer down the dog’s back, and then has an extra removable strap that fits at the smallest part of their waist to ensure more comfort for the dog when it is pulling.  Instead of a standard d-ring to attach a leash to, it has cording with a loop at the end so the leash/pressure pull more from behind the dog instead of above it.  This helps maintain a comfortable fit for the dog even when pulling.

Hipbelt and color-coded towline

Hipbelt and color-coded towline

The Towline

The towline stretches from 6.5′ to 8.75′ to provide superior shock absorption.  On one end it has Ruffwear’s patented Talon Clip™ to easily attach/detach the leash to the harness.  It has a handle loop down low near the clip, as well as a standard loop at the top, where it attaches to the hipbelt.  The ends are color coded to avoid confusion.

Notice the padding over all the straps, no buckles touching dog's body

Notice the padding over all the straps, no buckles touching dog’s body

The Hipbelt

The hipbelt is designed to ride snugly and comfortably around your

Notice the mesh for coolness and the thick padding.

Notice the mesh for coolness and the thick padding.

hips, keeping your back safe and your center of gravity lower and more secure.  The hipbelt is very padded and fits hips sized 27″-48″, so it is quite adjustable.  It has removable straps for around your thighs to help keep the hipbelt from riding up.  It has a water bottle pouch and two zippered pockets.  The tow bridle that the towline attaches to gives the line side-to-side mobility or permits you to attach multiple towlines/dogs.  It features a quick release for the towline in case of emergency.

Padded, comfortable design

Padded, comfortable design

Thoughts On The System

I thoroughly believe that some dogs can benefit, both physically and mentally, from being allowed to pull once in a while.  Obviously it is important to get vet clearance if you are going to have your dog pull you, whether on a bicycle, rollerblades, skateboard, or skis.  But most dogs thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to use their muscles.  This

Kit bag includes instructions sewn to inside

Kit bag includes instructions sewn to inside

Ruffwear Omnijore™ Joring System keeps both them and you safe.  The towline very firmly attaches to the harness and stays there until purposefully released.  It is possible to use a regular leash as well if you want something shorter and more practical for regular walks in the neighborhood.  Even when my dog really lunged, the leash stayed securely attached and the hipbelt kept me from getting jolted.  The pockets and water bottle holder in the hipbelt were much appreciated to keep my hands empty of keys, poop bags, water bottle, treats, etc.  The harness, once adjusted, fits beautifully, keeping pressure off the dog’s neck and shoulders and the center of gravity for pulling safely low and back instead of upwards.  As with all Ruffwear products, each component is sturdy and well designed, made to withstand strong forces whilst remaining comfortable for both dog and human.  This package definitely gets a solid, “heck yes and thank you!”

Ergonomically designed to not restrict shoulder movement

Ergonomically designed

Mesh kit bag

Mesh kit bag

The Ruffwear Omnijore™ Joring System can be purchased here.

*This set was given to The Modern Dog Trainer for free for the review. Our opinion of this product was not affected by Ruffwear’s generosity. We participate in Ruffwear’s affiliate program in order to support this blog and our dedicated contributors.

Pin It on Pinterest