Four Reasons Why Continuing Education Is Important

Four Reasons Why Continuing Education Is Important

What Is Continuing Education?

In a quick, unscientific poll of a small number of colleagues and clients, the overwhelming results were that clients appreciate knowing their trainers are participating in hands-on continuing education. To be among the best of the best in the dog training field, it is important to also be a student.  Some certifications for dog trainers require continuing education to maintain certification; some dog trainers choose to participate in continuing education.

Continuing Education

Continuing education can take on many forms. It can be a book that is read, a dvd that is watched, a seminar that is observed, a local workshop that is hands-on, a national conference that is all of the above with the added bonus of networking with colleagues. While a list of books read and dvds watched can be impressive, spending time and funds on a seminar, workshop, and/or conference shows clients a different level of commitment to continuing education – a level of investment both of time and funds to seek out knowledge and information.

Recommended Reading: Top 10 Dog Training Conferences for 2017

Why Is Continuing Education Important For Dog Trainers?

Accountability – seeking out and participating in continuing education puts a trainer into the position of being a student and demonstrating results.

Commitment – commitment to our profession, commitment to our clients, commitment to our dogs. Attending workshops, seminars, classes, etc. sparks a renewed commitment to spend time doing what we love.

Maintenance of/increasing knowledge and skill – use it or lose it! Teaching helps us to maintain our knowledge and skill but continuing education helps us to increase that knowledge and skill. Learning about new thought processes and methods expands our range of who we can help and how we can help them.

Staying on the cutting edge – there is constantly new science about dogs, about learning, about humans, about the dog/human interaction, etc. Participating in continuing education keeps trainers up to date on the latest and greatest science and how it can be useful in dog training.

 

Related: Check out our “Mastermind Meetups for Modern Dog Trainers” and request one in your area! 


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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!

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2015 APDT Conference – Day 2 Summary

2015 APDT Conference – Day 2 Summary

Before I get into today’s Speakers, I just want to report on what a great Conference this is! Everyone is so nice and friendly, I am rooming with Facebook friends, met lots of other friends as well as people I have interviewed. I am really enjoying the educational aspect of this Conference and the comradery of the Attendees.

2015 apdt conferenceDr. Stephen Ledoux

My first Speaker today, was Dr. Stephen Ledoux, his topic was – Introductory Behaviorology: A Book Discussion on his latest book – “Running Out of Time—Introducing Behaviorology to Help Solve Global Problems”.

I enjoyed Dr Ledoux easy way of talking with his interjections of humor and he was very approachable. He talked about the origins of this book, the contents, the purpose of this book and other books and how they relate to dog training and other companion animal behavior training , behavior science.   Attendees found out how the natural science of behavior was the common theme of many other behavior training books.

Newsletter Marketing: Help Dogs While Growing Your Business with Veronica Boutelle

My second Speaker was Veronica Boutelle, MA Ed., CTC of Dogtec fame, she talked about “Newsletter Marketing: Help Dogs While Growing Your Business”.

We learned about the different uses, audiences and goals of print and email newsletters. content and design,  guidelines, best practices.  Also covered was choosing an email marketing service provider, sourcing images, the structure of emails – short and sweet, whether to have a single topic or 2 to 4 topics, how often to produce your newsletter.  How to get readers by interviewing, featuring dogs and dog related businesses.

85% of content should be fun and informative while the other 15% should be info on your business – services, special discounts, upcoming events.  She also gave tips on how to maximize your chance of being read:

  • no lecturing,
  • short sentences,
  • using headers,
  • subheaders,
  • bullets and lists,
  • along with lots of photos – but watch that the dog shows the body language you want to convey.

I was so pleased to meet Veronica in real life since I had worked with her and Gina Phairas, when I won the APDT Business Makeover in 2013, she is as nice in person as she was to deal with online.

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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?

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4 Reasons Why This Clicker Will Revolutionize The Way You Clicker Train Dogs

4 Reasons Why This Clicker Will Revolutionize The Way You Clicker Train Dogs

clicker ring benefits
Clickers are absolutely wonderful to help dogs and their owners communicate effectively and quickly. They make the dog’s learning process easier, but they can make things a bit more complicated for their owners.

Presenting the Clicker Ring

Josh Pitts, the founder and creator of Clicker Plus, has designed a revolutionary new clicker that will make clicker training less of a juggling act for the average dog owner. The Clicker Ring is a ring with a mechanical clicker built into it. This innovative tool will make clicker training easier and more fun for everyone!

1) Anyone Can Clicker Train With The Clicker Ring

The benefit to turning the clicker into a ring is that it will allow dog owners with disabilities or movement restrictions to train their dog. They no longer have to worry about dropping the clicker if they accidentally open their hand which will improve their timing – which is so important during training!

2) Everyone Will Be Able to Wear One

The Clicker Ring comes in a variety of sizes which means people short and tall, large and small will be able to wear them. It is discrete so even self-conscious client’s will be able to use a clicker to train their dogs.

clicker ring design

3) Fast & Easy Access To A Clicker

How many times have you told a client to keep the clicker ready during classes or when working with reactive dogs? Now they will have no choice but to have the clicker available to them at all times. This will keep them from fumbling around to find their clicker when they need it most – usually when they least expect it!

4) Less Juggling, More Clicking

Between the leash, treats, listening to instructions, and a dog pulling on the other end of the leash, dog owners can quickly get overwhelmed during classes or private lessons. They are learning a lot of new information in a very short time frame. The clicker ring takes away a small, but challenging variable to their, and their dog’s, learning process by making it more convenient to use during training.

Learn more about the clicker ring and pre-order yours today!
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5 Approaches To Teaching “Come”

5 Approaches To Teaching “Come”

Image by Erin Bessey - Bessey's Positive Paws

Image by Erin Bessey – Bessey’s Positive Paws

It’s a life saving behavior and one that needs to be taught like any other behavior. It is one of the most difficult behaviors to get reliably but it shouldn’t have to be. With practice, patience, and consistency anyone can achieve a reliable recall. There are many different ways to teach “Come” and below we’ll examine 5 of them.

“How to Train a Whistle Recall” by Pamela Dennison

Pamela starts with the first steps of teaching the whistle recall. It begins with charging the whistle. With every blow of the whistle she delivers high value treats. She puts a lot of emphasis on the use of the high value treat versus commercial treats. She gives a timeline of how long your should work on charging the whistle and the importance of not rushing the first steps of any recall. This video does not cover it but with the following videos you will see how to gradually add distraction to begin proofing the recall.

“How to train “Come!”” by Emily Larlham – Kikopup

Emily teaches the first steps of “Come”  with the dog on leash. She begins by just simply backing up, clicking & treating when the dog moves with her. Once this becomes reliable she adds the recall cue. Once the dog is reliably coming, Emily then works on adding distractions while the dog is on leash. The art of teaching come on leash first is to set the dog up for success so that it never learns that not responding to the cue has any value.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PL9Rk-8KF9I?rel=0&w=560&h=315

“How To Train Your Dog to Come” by Training Positive

In this video, the fundamentals are brought into training the recall. The focus is on rewarding your dog for checking in while in a distracting environment and utilizing a “watch me” cue. These behaviors are a precursor to letting your dog off leash so that your dog remembers that you exist while in a stimulating situation and increases the likelihood that they will continue to check in with you. The other aspect of teaching come that Training Positive uses is once you have your dog come to you engaging them with other behaviors or tricks.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLo8YP4-D8Y?rel=0&w=560&h=315

“Come When Called” by Zak George

Zak George begins teaching the recall by making it a fun game for you and the dog. Making it fun will get a faster recall.  In his video, Zak uses a footage from training a puppy recall for the first time which is useful because you are able to see when real life issues arise and how to troubleshoot them when they happen.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwldfBjFsdE?rel=0&w=560&h=315

“Come Here and Sit” by Ian Dunbar

In Ian’s short video, he starts with luring the dog backwards to follow him, then into a sit and as he delivers the treat he is touching the dog’s collar. Ian explains the importance of touching the collar as part of the recall because if you need your dog to come to you it will do you no good if you can’t actually catch your dog. As in other videos he keeps the distance short and the distraction low while practicing the sequence of events.

While all these videos are similar, they offer different perspectives on teaching the recall. The one thing that is consistent within these videos is that you can’t rush this behavior. If you want to get a reliable recall you have to practice and build the behavior by starting with low distractions and always proofing.

What ways have you found most effective to teach a dog to come?

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