Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Yogadog Dog Training

Recently a few people have asked for my "credentials", as well as my bio for fundraising events where I donated in kind. So I wrote this and thought it worth sharing. I began working with dogs and dog training as a hobby ten years ago.  Over the years I volunteered as a dog walker at shelters and also raised money for local rescues. Five years ago I began getting seriously interested in dog training with the rehabilitation of my two rescued dogs Holly and Miko, but this quickly became a passion. In 2009 I began “Don’t Give up Dog Training”, a free resource site for people with adopted rescued dogs. In March of 2011, I graduated with honours from the International Career School of Canada, as a certified professional dog trainer with over 1000 volunteer hours as well as a growing client listThat same year I began Yogadog Dog Training, based in North Burnaby, BC.
Yogadog Dog Training combines a variety of training methods, traditional and new age, to find systems that work for all kinds of dogs and people. The programs Yogadog offers are loosely and humorously based on practices of Yoga. All the courses are aimed at improving the bond that the dog owner has with his or her pet and establishing better communication. The idea behind Yogadog is to provide people with a foundation in basic obedience, but also to teach them to keep active with their dogs and to give them the best life they can have. It is my goal to keep dogs out of shelters by making dog training affordable and doable, as well as fun!
Yoga means “oneness” and my philosophy is that having a connection with dogs is based on much more than obedience, but begins with basic training and engagement. Much like in yoga, in dog training the student first learns the postures, then develops endurance and finally masters the discipline. Beginner obedience and beginner agility are two of my most popular classes. They run six weeks and are a good foundation for other classes or stand alone as a great way to better connect and communicate with your dog. Other popular classes are Puppy Prana, CanineCardio Bootcamp and Canine Kundalini, for growly dogs!
Currently I am a member of the CAPPDT. In addition to this, I completed an intensive obedience program in April of 2011, at the world acclaimed Michael Ellis School in California. I continues to educate myself working with other trainers as mentors, as well as attending seminars and read books on dog psychology, marker/clicker training methods and dog aggression an ongoing basis. I continues to expand my knowledge and to provide up to date information and links to dog lovers. I believe we owe it to our dogs to give them more than just shelter. We owe them friendship, leadership and love!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Rocket Recall

Recall...recall...recall....takes practice...practice...practice!

The reason dogs often don't come when called is because we tend to ask them to come when they are distracted, but we haven't taught them how to do that. The other reason is that we don't practice it enough that the dog is well rehearsed in the behaviour. Don't wait until your dog is running away from you to work on recalls. To teach your dog to come when called you must practice recalls in all kinds of situations where you can control the dog and teach it how to switch focus. If you practice recalls everyday for five minutes your dog will get really good at it!

When we teach our dogs to come we are teaching them to have an automatic physical and emotional response system to a verbal cue or noise (whistle, or even to their name). Good recall begins with name recognition and switch of focus. The dog needs to learn how to switch its focus to you from distracting situations and then recall. It is something that must be rewarding for the dog in order for it to become an automatic response. First you get the dog's attention (FIDO) and then you cue it to recall (COME) and of course when it comes toward you reward the dog with attention, praise, food and toys. Another really good reward for coming is getting to go back out and play! The word "come" must mean fun and games, so make it fun for both you and your dog!

This is a great way to teach your dog that the word "COME" is the most exciting and fun word it can hear. Use a helper to make it easier. One person holds the dog’s collar or leash while the other person hides. If you don’t have a helper, you can practice just calling your dog from another room any time you can wander off without it seeing or following you. Sit stays can work as well, but are more advanced training and you don't need to wait until you have a strong sit-stay to work on recalls.

Both people should stuff their pockets with great treats.  As soon as the person finds a fun hiding spot they should call the dog and encourage him with every step “FIDO, COME…good boy, come, good boy, good boy, good boy COME!”  Let him know where you are and make exciting noises. This excitement and encouragement gives him the motivation to find you and helps load the word COME.

When the dog finds you, praise him / her and give the pup a treat while your helper dashes off to hide. It is fun to do with family members because you want the dog to be excited to come to everyone in the house, not just the one person who does the training. Repeat this process.  In the beginning hide in easy spots, like just in the next room, as play continues choose more difficult places and greater distances. Then you will be able to transfer this training outside in the back yard or on a long line at the local park. The point is to have fun and enjoy, your dog will love it and will learn to love the game of COME!

Here is a video of me and my boy Miko doing our recalls while out on a walk...note the long line to assure he comes back to me. If he didn't I would move away from him and try to get him to chase me...or reel him in and highly reward him giving to the pressure of the leash and then release him to go sniff again. The games I play daily with both my dogs include lots of treats too!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Dancing with your dog...a new type of freestyle obedience!

Doggie freestyle dance isn't really a new thing, but it is relatively new to the public. It developed in Canada out of freestyle heeling as an entertaining way to compete in obedience. When costumes and dance steps were added to heeling routines to music, dog dancing took on the form of a dramatic routine. Although the possibilities are endless, there are many things you can do with your dog to create a dance that is both fun, but also a great way to work on heeling and also communication. I have recently been asked to start a cha-cha with your dog class at Bosley's in New West. It will be held on Friday nights at seven until eight and begin on August 9th.

This summer I had the opportunity to attend a seminar with Dante Camacho who is an agility master and also a free style dance competitor and instructor. Here is a video on how to get started on targeting and also on how to build the foundations of the tricks you can transfer to dance routines. It is fun to train these behaviours, then link them together into a routine to music. The music is key to the performance and you need to pick a beat that suits you and your dog. You also need to consider what works in terms of the speed at which your dog can perform the behaviours.

Check out this video of Dante Camacho demonstrating the foundations of heeling and targeting!

Check out Dante and his targeting demo:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSFe7w181iQ

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Agility for Puppies and Adult Dogs!

The weather conditions are wetter and the winter is upon us. Unfortunately the outdoor agility area that Yogadog offers in the spring summer and fall is slippery and a bit too muddy for classes. In the meantime, indoor agility, levels one, two and three will be held at Pup Culture 6939 Hastings Street in Burnaby. The equipment is smaller but ideal for indoor work. The level one is for beginners and level two is for graduates of puppy agility or for dogs who have had some agility training. Level three is brand new for 2013 and consists of harder sequences and angles as well as better team work and challenges the humans as much as the dogs! I am offering these classes for 50% off as a promotion to get more people out there and get ready for the return of outdoor agility in April when the weather gets better!

To register call Shannon at 604-312-8754 or contact at shannon@yogadog.ca

Friday, November 30, 2012

Dog Training Tips from Yogadog Dog Training!

The structure of anything solid, comes from a strong foundation. It seems simple, but gets complicated...especially when you talk about dog training. We tend to look at trained behaviors as being separate and taught separately. However, when a dog lacks basic foundation behaviors, it is hard to teach it to do what we want it to do, like function calmly and properly in social situations. The most basic foundation behavior is one that people often fail to reinforce. We call our pets, or whistle to them and they come to us, or look at us in response. This is the most important tool that we can exercise with our pet, yet we often take it for granted. Every time your dog comes to you or looks toward you, it is a strengthening of the bond you share, a strengthening of the foundation of your relationship. Unfortunately, unintentionally people will sometimes poison this bond. If you interrupt your dog's (unwanted) behavior, perhaps calling the dog out of a potentially dangerous situation, then reprimand the dog for the event...this is poisoning the command. Humans expect dogs to understand what they are upset about; which is the outburst or the disobedience. However, the dog is probably connecting the reprimand to the action of coming when called. Because the dog often looks sheepish, we assume it understands and feels guilty about what it has done, but more than likely what we are perceiving is fear. The dog is actually coming to fear us and learning that it can't trust us as good leaders. Each time we punish a dog by calling it to get it to come, or to get it's attention and then reprimand it, we destroy the bond we have formed with it. We are in essence destroying the very foundation we strive to build.

Coming when called, or solid recall, is the most important foundation behavior that we as dog owners and handlers can work on. Most situations can be prevented or avoided by calling the animal out of it. A strong recall can save your dog's life! Most people that have problems controlling their dogs also have problems getting their dog to come. This reasons to say, that they might also have weak foundations on which they base the rest of their training. The way to begin properly training your dog is to first figure out how to get its attention. (I won't say undivided attention, because dogs will always have distractions that they find hard to resist). Nonetheless, at least knowing how to get your dog's attention will aid you in being able to keep its attention long enough and often enough to teach it the skills it needs to be a great companion and pet. All dogs have different distractions, drives and motivations. In the beginning you should practice all recalls without distractions and find out what is most likely to draw your dog to you. Is it food, is it toys that make squeaky noises, is it fun gestures or a game of chase? Dogs are simple...they will almost always give their attention and be drawn to the biggest distraction. The trick to teaching good recall is to make ourself as alluring as possible and practice it whenever possible. Often people call their dogs in a stern voice and expect them to obey. For the most part, they will come when called in this manner...unless there is something they like better or something distracting them that lures them away. We need to teach our dogs to choose us over their distractions. Through repetition and positive reinforcement the dog will learn to always choose you as the most interesting and consistent source of reward. Strong recall takes a lot of work, but it is the most important thing you can teach your dog.

The easiest attention getting exercise is rewarding any and all voluntary attention. If your dog looks at you, engage it, give it a treat or praise. If it comes up to you or returns it's attention to you...make a huge deal out of it. This is reinforcing good behavior. Sure it is not something that we commanded, but it is still an excellent foundation behavior that if gone unnoticed, will not strengthen. If you reward it, your dog will likely offer it more often and automatically. If your dog offers you its attention, then you will not have to worry about trying to get it! If you want your dog to come or do something other than what it is engaging in, you will already have done the ground work...with very little effort. In fact in this exercise the dog does most of the work for you. I think the reason this practice often goes unnoticed is because it is so simple it seems silly. Another reason people don't reward their dogs freely is that they don't want to spoil the dog or give it too much food. If you don't want your dog to gain weight from "excessive treating", then cut back on its daily meals. Eventually, you can find other things to give your dog as rewards. Food is simply something they relate to and instinctively strive to earn access to. If you don't want your dog to get spoilt, don't reward anything other than good behavior! If you want a dog that comes to you when called and is very interested in what you are doing or wanting it to do, make yourself the most delicious or interesting thing in the room or the situation. The easiest way to do this is through a reward system, treat training or praise. Getting a dogs attention is easy...make it fun! Ironically, making it fun for your pet, also makes it a lot more pleasant for you. Coming when called and recalls can be turned into attention games that are easy to do and will most likely lead to faster success for you and your dog.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Puppy training and puppy agility classes in Burnaby BC!

Agility training for puppies is a great way to get better focus and bridge to off leash work!

Yogadog Dog Training is now offering half price on Puppy Prana classes for 2013. Also being offered for only $75 is agility training for puppies. What better way to start the New Year than training your new pet? Dogs young and old can benefit from agility training, but during these rainy winter months it is hard to get out there and do the fun stuff that we did in the summer time. Indoor classes are the way to go and because they are so much fun, you'll be sure to want to do the work. Having a puppy is hard work, but it doesn't have to be all work and no play. Teach your puppy the skills to succeed in the challenges of the modern world while using play, rewards and engagement. Teach your puppy the Yogadog way!

Classes regularly priced at $150 now $75 for a limited time.

Classes are held Sundays at Pup Culture (#6939 Hastings Street, Burnaby, BC.)

Contact Shannon at 604-312-8754 or e-mail shannon@yogadog.ca

Limited space so RSVP ASAP!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Yogadog Dog Training

Yogadog Dog Training has a unique approach to dog training. It combines a variety of training methods, traditional and new age, to find programs that work for all kinds of dogs and people. The five programs that Yogadog offers are loosely and humorously based on practices of Yoga. All the courses are aimed at improving the bond that the dog owner has with his or her pet and establishing better communication. The classes begin with a short canine massage or meditation to help the canines and the students balance their energy before starting training. Warm ups are taught on mats, where dogs and humans are encouraged to let go of stress and really connect. It is not so much about teaching the dogs to obey, as it is about teaching the owners how to communicate better with their dogs. What better way to teach dogs new tricks than through positive reinforcement and team work!

Classes run at three locations, North Burnaby at Pup Culture (6939 Hastings Street), South Burnaby at We Care Dog Daycare (7844 Edmonds Street) and New Westminster at the Bosley's in Columbia Village (1015 Columbia Street). Outdoor agility and Canine Cardio Bootcamps are seasonal and will pick up again in the New Year! 

Check out www.yogadog.ca for scheduled times! 

“Puppy Prana” is a strictly positively based program on teaching puppies the skills they need to have a healthy, happy life. Prana simply means vital life. The dog learns to withstand and cope with measured amounts of social pressure, as well as socialize in a controlled fashion.

“Hatha for Hounds” is a basic course. It’s a great introduction to dog training and a perfect way to strengthen the bond you have with your dog. This class covers all the basic positions and loose leash walking techniques, as well as address a few common behavioral problems.

“Asanas Agility” class is an introduction to basic agility equipment and how to on train it. Get aquainted with the exciting world of agility "just for fun", while you gain the skills of competitive dog sport world. It is advisable for those interested to first take the beginner "hatha" class
“Advanced Ashtanga” reviews foundation behaviours and the basics of the beginner’s class. It prepares dogs and handlers for higher obedience and formal competitive heeling and teaching positions. This class focuses on better engagement and longer focus, as well as the control that is required to bridge to off leash work.
“Canine Kundalini” is focused on relaxation, impulse control and training tolerance, as well as balancing energy. It covers desensitization techniques and teach the dog and handler to remain calm under stressful situations.
For more information, e-mail me at shannon@dgudogtraining.ca

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Canine Kundalini

A reactive dog does not become aggressive overnight. It becomes sensitized to stimulus, gradually and over a period of time.  The aggression often compounds regardless of well intended efforts to extinguish the behaviour. The dog continued to react and this repetitive behaviour becomes learnt behaviour. The more often the dog accessed this neural pathway the quicker and easier the behaviour triggered. Punishing the dog for aggressing may have worked to shut down the behaviour, but it didn't teach the dog to tolerate stimulus and decrease the stress on the animal. To begin treating aggression, we must first stop the dog from rehearsing the act of aggressing. To keep the dog from reacting, you may initially have avoid it's triggers and teach it coping skills that will lend themselves to impulse control and handling the stress of the modern world. Ideally we want to expose the dog to measured amounts of what it fears and teach it to handle the stress, so that it can learn to cope. This takes time, cannot be rushed and does not happen overnight! 

Reactivity is not usually a sign of the dog wanting to fight. It is actually a coping mechanism to avoid fighting. The dog becomes fearful or threatened and puts on a display to hopefully gain space or access to resources. Aggression is the symptom of fear and stress. To reduce aggression in our dogs we must teach them to handle stress in limited amounts and also desensitize them to the things they fear. Ironically, an aggressive dog is often the one who gets the least exposure to dogs and people and they need it the most. In order to expose a dog to stress and allow it to work through it we need some management tools in place. The owner needs to have a way to orient the dog toward him or her, as well as away from the target of the reactivity. Also, the dog must not be allowed to focus on or lung at the object of the aggression. The idea is to expose the dog at distances, pair the exposure with pleasant and relaxing things and then reduce the space in controlled increments. This is a combination of desensitization and counter conditioning.

One common problem with many aggressive dogs is lack of impulse control. Impulse control can be worked on separately from the aggression. You can teach impulse control using food and toys and by exciting the dog and then teaching it to calm down. If the dog is able to control its impulses with food and toys, you can build this control and transfer it to all parts of the dogs life. In Yogadog Canine Kundalini classes work on teaching impulse control, as well as teach the owners of reactive dogs how to stay calm in the midst of the aggressive display. The class covers management tools, proper greeting rituals, reading body language, as well as how to counter condition the dog to other dogs while preforming desensitization techniques in a calm and safe environment. Canine Kundalini is ideal for nervous and fearful dogs, as well as most aggressive dogs. Yogadog offers Canine Kundalini at Bosley's in New Westminster, BC, on Friday nights between 8-9pm. To register for this class, please contact shannon@yogadog.ca or call Yogadog trainer Shannon at 604-312-8754. Spaces are limited!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Canine Cardio Bootcamp

Canine Cardio Bootcamp is a training program that will give the dog and the owner a mental and physical work out! It is based on basic obedience commands mixed with fast heeling, jogging and play. I am finding that people, with their busy lives, don't have time to train their dogs, as well as exercise them and go to the gym themselves. The program would be designed in a way that is fun for the dogs and the owners. It would begin with practicing basic commands on six foot leashes and teaching the clients to use treats and toys to develop a dynamic training style. It also would train the dogs to be engaged with the owner, even when other dogs are present.

The idea would be to start slow, reviewing basic commands and then pick up the pace, continuing with "on and off games" , emergency downs, as well as honouring while the owners do jumping jacks and run circles around the dogs. The sections would be broken up with games of tug, as well as short breaks for the dogs to get water and the owners to catch their breath. The class would start with a fifteen minute warm up, working on focus games and simple commands, followed with two fifteen minute cardio sessions then ending with a cool down, possibly even a doggy massage on nice days. It would run between an hour and a half and two hours, with breaks and instruction periods. The pre-requisite would be a few basic obedience commands, but we would also cover them in class, as well as add a few bonus ones that would help burn off excess energy and make the workout more dynamic.

For "On and Off Games" and "Emergency Downs", see Don't Give Up on Defaults, cut and paste: http://dgudogtraining.blogspot.com/2010/10/dont-give-up-on-defaults.html

I have been training my dogs Holly and Miko using obedience, play and engagement. It is a great work out! The bonus is that when the dogs get working, they do faster, crisper sits and downs! Also, they pay more attention to me because I am so fun! My goal is to get out there and develop this program, as well as get fit. I'll be teaching people to exercise their dogs in a way that is dynamic and fun for humans and canines, meanwhile, getting experience as a pet dog trainer. Stay tuned, as the program is in the developement stages. The pilot class was July 24th, 2011 and it went really well. Depending on how many folks are interested, I would like to do regularly at the same local park near my home. (Confederation Park in Burnaby)