Whew! This July marks the 10 Year Anniversary of Kelly’s Training in our North Hollywood location. We couldn’t have done it without our fantastic clients. Thank you so much for all your support!
To show our appreciation, we’re hosting a party! Come meet our staff, tour the facility and enter in our raffle with a grand prize of a 10 day of daycare pass (over a $350 value!). Existing clients, bring your dog for some agility and fun and games activities led by Kelly. New clients, only dogs who have been evaluated are allowed on the premises, so book your evaluation now! 818-985-4800
Kate and Sawyer are 6 mos. old border collie mix sisters, but they have different play styles. Kate enjoys more chewing and laying down play while Sawyer is more raucous and enjoys more vertical play. Sam, 6 mos. old Rhodesian Ridgeback, is trying to be flexible to accommodate both friends! Watch as Kate produces several calming signals to try to calm the play down to her desired level. Dogs use calming signals when they are stressed or anxious, but Kate is using them here to encourage her playmates to adjust their play. When a dog is anxious, you will often see these calming signals repeated in rapid fire progression. Here, Kate only does a few strategically placed signals. Can you find them?
The most obvious signal Kate was producing was sitting. Didn’t it seem odd that a dog would be sitting in the middle of playing dogs? Not only was she sitting, but she was deliberately positioning her bottom on the ground! As if to say, could I be more clear?!! And her sister, Sawyer, even helped her out by joining her for a second! Kate also did some quick lip licking and yawns. Lip licking (where the tongue juts out quickly and licks the lip and/or nose area) and yawning are very common calming signals. Hers are quick, can you find 5 lip licking and 2 yawns? Her yawns are not very wide, short and quick. At the end she tries a different approach, sniffing the ground. These three dogs were the first dogs to arrive at the daycare that morning, but they had plenty of time to sniff the area. The area did not, all of a sudden, have a new smell! Sniffing the ground intensely is a very common calming signal that is often overlooked as normal sniffing. Kate is a very good signaler. She is very clear and distinctive in her movements. When she sniffs the ground, it’s as if she is fascinated by the area. As if to say, “Hey guys, look over here! You just gotta smell this!!”
Pushy Puppies is the term I use to refer to dogs or puppies who, for whatever reason, approach dogs in a very vigorous and socially inappropriate¬† way.¬† These¬†dogs have never injured another dog, but¬†people and other dogs often read the pushy puppies’ actions as threatening and aggressive.¬† Pushy puppies¬†appear to be unable to read other dog’s social cues and therefore, often end up injured themselves by dogs who have no other option but to go to the most extreme action in order to get the pushy puppy to listen!
Penny, a new Pushy Puppy client, came in barking, whining¬†and lunging at every dog she saw while on leash.¬† When I evaluated her, she approached my tester dog straight on, jumping up and linking her paws around his neck, then followed him in a very pushy, forceful way.¬† My tester dog, Bailey T., gave her a lot of signals to calm down and back off, but she didn’t see them.¬† He tried turning his head to the side, shaking his body and moving away from her, but she just followed forcefully behind.¬† Bailey T.’s movements were soft and loose while Penny’s entire posture was rigid.¬† Penny’s stiff body and¬†forceful actions were in direct contrast to her tail’s wide wag evenly parallel with her body.¬† She gave Bailey T. mixed messages.¬† Luckily, Bailey T. knows this well as he too used to be a pushy puppy!!!
On her first day of the Pushy Puppy program, Penny displayed extreme hyper arousal.¬† She acted like a Champagne bottle that busts off it’s cork after being shaken!¬† Chasing her tail repeatedly and running full force without regard to anyone or anything in her way – the zoomies!
Some dogs chase their tail for fun and others do it out of nervous energy or as an obsessive behavior. She did not do it enough to be considered obsessive, but more as an outlet for her anxiety.
In my Pushy Puppy program, I use¬†very well-adjusted, tolerant dogs as my teaching assistants to encourage the pushy puppy to listen and respond in a socially acceptable way.¬† I see my role as part facilitator / part instructor.¬†¬†¬†While I¬†set up the environment so that I am in complete control at all times, I do allow the dogs a lot of freedom to communicate¬†as they see fit providing positive feedback for appropriate responses.¬† Ultimately, my goal is to create a dog who, from a distance, knows how to assess another dog’s interest and can perform socially acceptable greeting behaviors based on that early assessment.¬† Just like people, each dog has their own boundaries and comfort levels.¬†¬†Socially skilled dogs are¬†capable of reading these signals and responding¬†very clearly.¬† When Penny was able to settle a little, I introduced my first teaching assistant, Bear.¬† Her¬†calm and very tolerant personality helped Penny recognize that her over-the-top spin, jump behaviors were unnecessary and¬†would not engage her.
Next,¬†Gracie was introduced.¬† While Bear’s approach is of calm passivity, Gracie’s style is more forceful.¬† She acts aggressive without harm, which is very helpful to teach socially inept pups to listen clearly and do avoidance maneuvers, showing respect.¬† Gracie¬†is¬†very clear¬†with her “I like that” and “I don’t like that!” responses!¬†¬†¬† Pushy puppies learn a lot from Gracie in a very short amount of time.¬† When Penny accidentally bumps Gracie when she starts to do her frenzied spin/jump, Gracie grumbles at her and moves away!¬† Notice that I tell Gracie she’s okay.¬† In the daycare, we discourage grumbling, growling, snarling, or aggressive posturing, because there is really no reason for it.¬† All the dogs that play at our daycare have been evaluated to determine their compatibility, tolerance and ability to¬†choose evasive maneuvers.¬†¬† All the dogs understand and trust that we wont allow another dog to annoy or pester them, so they are comfortable choosing to just walk away.
Gracie shows Penny to move in an arc and to sniff and then move away calmly.
Penny learns to move away after sniffing to release pressure and show respect. Gracie is so proud that Penny learned from her earlier lesson! What a good teacher you are Gracie!
Next up is Hombrito.¬† He is a big dog in a little body!¬† He helps pushy large dogs know that little dogs need more space and more calm movements when being approached.¬† Again, I am always aware of the teaching assistants comfort level when asking them to help me.¬† Hombrito actually enjoys assisting me as do all the dogs I use as TA’s.¬† And their teaching involvement is done in¬† short segments with large breaks in between.¬† I want all my daycare dogs to enjoy their time here, whether they are romping with their buddies or performing important teaching roles!!
Notice how Penny is clearly making conscious decisions about her body movements based on input from Hombrito.¬† Good listening, Penny!!
Lastly, it’s Rally’s turn.¬† Rally is also a reformed pushy puppy!¬† She is still young and reverts back to inappropriate behavior on occasion, but her ability to understand Penny is fun to watch!!¬† Rally decided Penny needed to learn how to play laying down.¬† What a smart girl!!¬† Calm play or playing while laying down is a fundamental skill taught at our daycare to ensure safe yet rewarding play!¬† Notice how Rally holds still when Penny is bouncing around and then instantly begins to engage her (rewarding her for the correct response!!) when she starts to play laying down!¬† Absolutely beautiful!!¬† Dogs use positive reinforcement with one another too!!
Lastly, Penny observes everyone resting quietly.¬† Yes Penny, you don’t have to be in a frenzy all the time, you can lay down and relax!
My beautiful 10-year-old dog, Doc, gradually lost his sight over the course of last year. We can look back now and recognize when his sight started diminishing although when it was happening, we were clueless! I remember being perplexed as to why he was barking so much more. He was my daycare tester dog from the time we opened our doors in July 2004 until March 2009. He evaluated every dog that came into the daycare and was an invaluable asset. His skill at observing and responding appropriately to determine a dog‚Äôs intentions and temperament was unparalleled. He could encourage the shy dogs to open up and motivate the hyper dogs to chill out with very little movement or sound on his part. It was beautiful to watch. When he began starting every evaluation with a few barks, I started questioning my dog who had been flawless up to that point. The crowning moment was when one of his very best friends at daycare, a Shih Tzu named Malone, looked up at me and whimpered softly as he sat next to Doc. I realized that Doc unknowingly was sitting on a large portion of Malone‚Äôs long tail fur! I encouraged Doc to get up and move and Malone instantly wagged his whole body for me and then ran over to lick Doc‚Äôs face as if to say, ‚ÄúI know you didn‚Äôt mean it, no harm, no foul my friend!‚ÄĚ Prior to that moment, Doc had always been exceedingly careful around the small dogs. Again, I was perplexed. Sadly, I knew I had to retire my beautiful boy from his daycare job. He was heartbroken when he didn‚Äôt accompany me everyday to daycare, but he still comes to the daycare occasionally.
We have had to make some adjustments to our life to accommodate his impairment, but much less than I would have thought. I believe it is true that the other senses become heightened when one sense becomes impaired. Doc uses his nose a lot more than he used to and follows the feel of walls and furniture to find his way around. Luckily, we also have a lot of different textures on our floors. We have hardwood flooring with large rugs, ceramic tile, linoleum and carpeting! Almost every room has a different texture for him! If he loses his bearings, he will often circle several times, lie down and start to pant. We have learned that this is our cue to guide him gently by the collar to a familiar rug or dog bed where he can reorient himself.
We have searched for toys that are durable since he really enjoys super-charged chewing (luckily only on his toys!) that also emit sounds! We have found a couple balls that he enjoys chasing after. But, his favorite game is find the treat! Every Easter, the Easter bunny hides eggs for my daughter, Kelsey to find in the front yard. Once we have found those eggs, the family enjoys hiding treats in the living room for Doc and River! We are careful to keep the treats off of surfaces we normally would not want dog noses to occupy! I‚Äôm not sure who has more fun on their Easter hunt, Kelsey or the dogs!
Unfortunately, the smallest mistake when dealing with wild animals can turn deadly. It appears that this is what happened on Wednesday, February 24, 2010 at Sea World in Orlando, Florida. Dawn Brancheau, a 40 year old veteran marine animal trainer was finishing a training session with Tillikum, a 12,000 lb. Killer Whale, when she was pulled under the water by her ponytail. Accounts are varied, but it appears that she broke protocol by laying on the ramp rather than standing on it. A small detail, but one that likely triggered the tragedy. The prevailing theory by fellow trainers is that she was laying in the water rubbing the whale’s chin as a reward when her ponytail floated near Tillikum’s mouth. It is likely that the Orca instinctively grabbed the ponytail thinking it was food and the ensuing thrashing kicked in his prey drive further.
Creating a bond with an animal is a magical thing. To do so with a wild animal must be even more exciting. When you have created such a strong bond with an animal, it can be alluring to bend the rules ever so slightly. Her desire to show the whale how pleased she was with his performance likely made her let her guard down and made her forget about her loose ponytail. Though I did not know her personally, I know the dedication and level of skill required to obtain a position as a whale trainer at Sea World. I strongly considered taking this path when I was an undergraduate at the University of California, San Diego. Several hundred people vie for a job as a trainer at Sea World every year. These are one of the most coveted positions by animal trainers, and therefore, only go to the best of the best. I am sure she deserved that title and this was simply an accident. A simple mistake, a devastating tragedy. My heart goes out to Dawn Brancheau’s family as well as her Sea World family.
When is play too rough? How can you tell the difference between bullying and play? Dogs play mildly imitates dogs fighting. Dogs give very clear indicators to each other when their intentions are aggressive, but we misinterpret or completely miss these signals very often. Some of the most common misread signals are piloerection (raising of the hackles along the back), neck biting and growling. People often think these are instant signals of aggression. Unfortunately, they can be both play or aggression. The best way to discern the intent of a dog is to observe the overall tension of the dog. Is the dog stiff, rigid, leaning forward with locked knees standing as tall as possible? If so, walk away! However, if the dog is loose, wiggly, bouncing around erratically, their motivation is to play!
I took a couple videos from daycare to illustrate these points.¬† This first video shows Miley, the Havanese, and Luke, the Chihuahua
Terrier mix, engaging in a fair and balanced play where each dog
initiates play after a quick pause. Luke displays a behavior that is
very informative about his state of mind. He places his head and chin over Miley’s shoulders.
This is a sign of assertiveness. If the display is quick, as in the
video, there is no need for concern.¬† However if the display is more
forceful and prolonged, intervention is necessary!
In this second video Mitch, the beagle, has his hackles raised and Ziggy, the miniature schnauzer, tackles Mitch to the ground and chews vigorously on his neck while growling.¬† This can appear to be aggressive, but look at their body tension. Mitch freezes for a second and then makes a large, exaggerated movement into a play bow. This is a solicitation to play. Mitch’s hackle raising is simply a sign of excitement, the neck biting, a very gentle, benign play style and the growling, a soft communication of play. Because their play is very vigorous, it is important to require that the pups disengage for short breaks often so that levels do not escalate into frustration, similar to children when they get too aroused!
As you can see,¬† it can be difficult to interpret the dogs signals unless you look at the overall context.¬† Each element in and of themselves can have multiple meanings.¬† The combination of signals is what provides the full story of what the dogs are communicating.
APDT Professional Dog Trainers Advice for the New “First Dog”
The Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT), the largest educational and professional association for dog trainers in the world, congratulates the President and his family on their new canine addition. We asked our members to provide their top tips for training and living with a dog in the White House (or any house!)
Greenville, SC – April 13, 2009 – The Association of Pet Dog Trainers promotes positive, dog-friendly training based on humane, scientific methods. All dogs, whether the “First Dog” or dogs who live on “Main Street,” require training and socialization to become happy, harmonious residents in a family’s household. Learning should be fun and exciting for humans and dogs alike, and all family members should become actively involved in the training process. We queried our members about what they would teach the new “First Dog” if they became the White House dog trainer. A detailed listing of their advice is on our web site, http://www.apdt.com/. Some highlights include:
1) Use Positive Training Techniques – The APDT recommends that you use training methods based on positive reinforcement and the latest scientific understandings of dog behavior. This will motivate your dog to choose to follow your commands, rather than doing them out of fear or avoidance. Teaching your dog with the enduring power of love, kindness and respect will create a deeper bond with your dog and family and will provide a profound example for all dog owners in the U.S. The APDT has provided an article on how to find a humane, professional trainer on the APDT’s web site at http://www.apdt.com/po/ts/choose_trainer.aspx.
2) Teach proper greeting behavior – Since the “First Dog” will encounter many new people, places and things, socializing to a variety of people, places and experiences on a regular basis and pairing this with positive reinforcement will ensure that he will be a good “ambassador” for all dogs in the U.S.
3) Involve the family and staff in training – Dogs learn through consistency and repetition; everyone who encounters the dog should be “on the same page” as to how to greet him, what verbal commands and hand signals to use, and what behaviors to reinforce.
4) Use games and play in training – Using games can be a wonderful way, for children in particular, to train a dog to basic thru advanced obedience commands in a positive and fun atmosphere.
5) Provide appropriate chew toys – All dogs, particularly young and adolescent dogs, need to chew. If young dogs are not given proper chewing outlets, they will easily find the wrong ones! Keep the White House furnishings secure by providing the “First Dog” with food-filled chew toys to exercise his mouth and his mind.
CONTACT FOR THE ASSOCIATION OF PET DOG TRAINERS: Mychelle Blake, Communications Director 1-800-PET-DOGS Direct: 702-966-8060 or 866-245-2742 MBlake@apdt.com
* * * *
The APDT is a professional educational organization of trainers who are committed to becoming better trainers through using positive, dog friendly methods based on sound scientific principles. With over 5,000 members worldwide, the APDT provides professional dog trainers with a respected and concerted voice. The APDT promotes caring relationships between dogs and people and works to increase public awareness of dog-friendly training techniques. For more information, visit the web site at http://www.apdt.com/.
Sound sensitivity is a common problem for dogs. Generally, the best approach is gradual desensitization and counter-conditioning. What this means is that you very gradually introduce the particular sound in a controlled environment at a barely audible level using a looped recording. Every day you should try to increase the volume while observing your dog, but if your dog reacts, you must lower it back to a non-reactive level. Only reward your dog with calm petting when she is being calm and non-reactive. If you encounter a sound that frightens your dog, never coddle or try to reassure your dog when she is reacting to a sound. This can be misinterpreted by the dog as praise. The best solution is to remove your dog from the source of the noise as calmly yet quickly as possible. Maintain an upbeat nonchalant attitude as you leave the sound behind. If your dog is afraid of fireworks, the desensitization process should start at least a month before the 4th of July. Some dogs can not acclimate to certain sounds, and if professional training is unsuccessful you should consult your vet for medications that can help.
All children should be taught how to behave around dogs. Your own pet may accept attention very differently than other dogs. Many children run up to their own dog and hug them around the neck. This is a very inappropriate and dangerous greeting with strange dogs. Teach your child to never approach a strange dog without an adult present. Staring directly into a dog’s eyes and running towards a dog is not an appropriate greeting either, and very common with kids who are often at eye level with dogs. Teach your child to approach slowly, turn her body sideways, stand still and put out her hand palm down. Always allow the dog to approach you, that way you know that the dog is interested in being pet. Teach your child warning signs for dogs that should be avoided. Barking, growling, or snarling are signs to stay away. If the dog’s ears are laid back, the tail stiff and high, and the hair on the back is raised, slowly walk away sideways. If the dog is soft and wiggly and approaches willingly, teach your child to start petting the dog under the head on the neck and chest area. This is less threatening to the dog than when you reach over the top of their head.
I found this article entitled “Why Dogs Make The Best Friends” in the Men’s Lifestyle area of MSN website. It is clearly written by a man, Jim Thorton, with an occasional jab at what he views as the typical overbearing woman, but it has a few very interesting comments worth reading about men’s relationship with “man’s best friend”. I pulled two of the most intriguing sections out to share with you, but if you would like to read the whole article, the link is http://men.msn.com/articlemh.aspx?cp-documentid=5558017&page=1.
written by Jim Thorton, page 3, MSN article, Men’s Health…
In a 2003 paper in the journal American Behavioral Scientist, Alan Beck, Sc.D., director of Purdue’s center of the human-animal bond, and Aaron H. Katcher, M.D., a psychiatrist at the University of Pennsylvania, point out that cultures like ours have very few forms of play that mold caring and nurturing behaviors in male children. “Boy children,” says Beck, “tend to be very self-conscious about having to take care of younger brothers and sisters. They don’t play tea party or dollhouse, because that’s Mommy stuff. However, taking care of an animal is a notable exception. Caring for your dog is always okay.“This license to love persists into adulthood. In virtually every public setting, women are, by and large, much more demonstrably touchy-feely than guys are. With dogs, however, this gender difference vanishes. “Men are just as likely as women to pet and stroke their dogs, hold them in their laps, kiss them, and so on,” says Beck. “It doesn’t matter whether they’re male or female dogs, either: Men can hug them without inhibition, without feeling any less manly. It’s one of the very few areas in life where men feel truly comfortable as nurturers.”
also written by Jim Thorton, page 4, MSN article, Men’s Health…
Given dogs’ femme-fetching skills, it was probably only a matter of time before they were marketed for this purpose. In Tokyo today, more than 100 “rent-a-puppy” shops now allow customers to take dogs on walks at a rate of about $15 per hour. Though most such customers are simply seeking a pleasant dog experience in a city where dog ownership can be prohibitively expensive, more than a few male clients specifically ask for cute breeds to help them attract women.If anything, it’s a man’s ability to form close and intimate bonds with dogs, not the dogs themselves, that women find attractive. “When a dog is showing trust in and companionship with a man,” says Alexander (the Michigan evolutionary biologist), “a woman knows that the man likely has whatever it takes to establish an affectionate relationship and keep it going.”
“[Kelly] must have been a school teacher in a previous life because she exudes that calm, confident authority that dogs (and kids) really respond to. I have never had a bad experience here and can recommend her facility without reservation. view full review...” — Julie Y yelp