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What does REACTIVE mean?

What does REACTIVE mean?

Ottawa Canine School No Comments

You’ve heard folks talk about their reactive dog. Maybe you’ve spotted our Reactive Rover class while perusing our class offerings. Perhaps you’re more familiar with the term “Feisty Fido” or, perhaps, you really don’t know what a reactive dog is.

A reactive dog is not necessarily an aggressive dog

Reactivity is a behaviour and manifests itself as an overreaction to stimuli. That stimuli may be a person, another dog a specific breed or colour of dog, a noise, a movement (things with wheels!), men with beards or a combination of all of the above. This reactivity may be an inherited trait, a product of their environment or even a learned behaviour.

Some breeds are designed to react quickly. Think of the German Shepherd Dog, for example. Reactivity is a benefit for detection. Many working dogs wouldn’t be as effective if they weren’t wired to react quickly to all manner of stimuli ! Can you imagine a herding breed who doesn’t react quickly to its environment ? Reactivity can be an important ingredient for working dogs and sporting dogs.

Most of the reactive dogs we work with at the Ottawa Canine School, however, are easily excited and frustrated. In fact, many times I’ve heard folks tell me that their dog is really friendly! Rover is just pulling them towards the other dog. In some cases, this is true: the dog is over excited and anxious to get to the other dog. Others, on the other hand, have learned that lashing out gets them the space they crave. The dog lunges and barks as an attempt to make the scary thing go away. In both cases, the behaviour is usually unwanted.

Some dogs learn that barking and lunging can make the scary thing go away!

Hemingway, our Great Dane, would never hurt a fly. He was kind and gentle but boy-oh-boy was he a project ! At the sight of another dog, he would leap in the air, drag me towards the other dog while barking incessantly. If the thought of a 140 lb dog bouncing and barking towards you isn’t scary enough, imagine Great Dane sized drool flying around his head. After an “episode”, I’d literally have to wipe all the drool off of his face. He was excitable and had little impulse control. One trainer, after meeting Hemi, told me “He is SO RUDE.”. I knew I had my work cut out for me, and work hard we did. I am proud to say that Hemi responded well to training and became a joy to walk in the neighbourhood. He became a more polite dog that didn’t get carried away by his emotions.

My other dog, Everest, is a very different dog. He likes his space and would never try to excitedly drag me over to go see another dog. His behaviour towards other dogs changed (and not for the better) after a specific incident and he started barking in a threatening and unfriendly manner when he saw large dark coloured dogs. Today, he very rarely reacts to another dog being in his space. I manage his environment and, every chance I get I reinforce that other dogs mean good things happen. The last time we were at the veterinarian’s office, for example, we played a game where every time he looked at another dog then looked back at me, he got a piece of tasty kangaroo (his favourite!).

Context is key

The tricky part is that some of these reactive behaviours are normal canine behaviours. Is the dog barking or is the dog reactive? Is the dog friendly and enthusiastic or is he reactive? How can we tell ? The answer is to look at the context of when the behaviour happens. It is normal for a dog to get all excited when he sees a squirrel. It is not normal, however, for my dog to bark incessantly when he sees a 10 year old child. It is normal for my dog to bark excitedly in a flyball tournament. It is not normal for my dog to bark and lunge at other dogs I pass by on the street. Context is key.


What did your dog get for Christmas?

Chantal Mills No Comments

Did you spoil your pets this Christmas?

In our house, Santa generally leaves a little gift for Everest.  Sometimes he doesn’t even wrap it, but Everest  doesn’t mind.

Each Christmas, I also go through the dog toys and decide what to keep, what to donate and what to toss.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!

What was your dog’s favourite holiday gift or moment?

New Curricula ! One curriculum, two curricula

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“Our Puppy Classes are built with you and your puppy in mind, using science-based methods and inspired by the latest research on puppy training.”

We are proud and excited to offer you a brand positively spanking new Puppy Kindergarten curriculum.  You spoke, we listened! and now, our puppy classes boast a thoroughly redone format and updated content.

When we first started offering puppy kindergarten classes, over a decade ago, the course itself was about 4 weeks long and it was for all dogs 6 months or less. Fast forward to today, and our puppy classes have been extended to a 6 week course and, inspired by a seminar given by Dr. Ian Dunbar highlighting the importance of separating the younger puppies from the older puppies,  a Puppy Kindergarten I and a Puppy Kindergarten II were created . What a difference that made! The puppy who has done 12 weeks of classes had become a pro at learning and had impressively advanced skills.

In the last 6 months or so, we noticed that it was time for another big change. After researching the newest literature, exploring articles and webinars offered by the PPG (Pet Professional Guild) and reading various positive reinforcement training articles, it seems that puppy training is moving towards more relationship, trust and confidence building, enrichment, and prevention of fear/anxiety.

We have been collecting your feedback, conferred with the trainers and rewrote the entire curriculum for Puppy Kindergarten 1, Puppy Kindergarten 2 AND we created a Puppy Kindergarten 3. Our brand new Puppy Kindergarten III class promotes confidence building. Dog sports and brain games are introduced. Your puppy will be introduced to tricks, fitness, agility, nose work, clicker training, and Puppy Manners 3. Discover your dog’s hidden talent! All activities are adjusted for puppies so they are safe and positive.

Our Puppy Kindergarten III program includes off-leash playtime to allow your puppy to further develop his or her social skills. In fact, all of our puppy classes include off leash play.

Also, as a bonus participating in any of Puppy Kindergarten classes you get  access to our private Puppy Playdates!  What a great way to promote healthy play! We have puppy playdates for all age groups, from the junior to the teenage puppy.

Allow me to take a moment to thank Dr. Angie Yong, the trainer whose dedication and bright mind contributed greatly to these newly redesigned curricula. She is not only a brilliant trainer, but she has a Ph.D in psychology. Our Puppy Classes are built with you and your puppy in mind, using science-based methods and inspired by the latest research on puppy training.

Losing a friend

Chantal Mills No Comments

It’s something that I am dreading: losing my dog Everest. This picture of him running on the beach was taken this past summer. He is on the cusp of 13 and that number both makes me happy (wow! 13! and he looks so good!!), and filled with dread (13! Where did the time go? Please live forever!).

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has spent time thinking about their dog passing. How will it happen, when will it happen, will we have him cremated… oh taxidermy is a bit too out there for me… but what about a sprinkle of his ashes in a paperweight? I’ve had all of these thoughts.

I remember having similar thoughts when Hemingway, our Great Dane, was still alive. I would think about what I’d do if I came home and this 160 lb dog was lifeless in the living room. Or, I’d try to figure out how I would get him into the car by myself if ever there was an emergency. Some may call these thoughts morbid, and I can’t disagree. I concluded that these thoughts were my way  of mentally  preparing for the unbearable, inevitable loss. I felt that if I mentally prepared myself, then it wouldn’t be as unbearable.

For Hemi, that day came in August of 2016. It was a Truly Terrible Day. Leaving the animal hospital with a leash and collar was devastating. Matt and I turned to each other and hugged and cried for a long time. Then, we got into our car and drove home. When asked how many dogs we have, our son still says we have 2 dogs – 1 is in heaven. I miss Hemi, and all of the dogs with whom I’ve had the honour of sharing my life.

The deep sadness of those losses is gone and I can now focus on the joy they brought, the quirks they had, the bad habits they had and the things I’ve learned thanks to them. The biggest lesson learned was that those moments spent thinking those morbid thoughts to mentally preparing myself did not make it any easier when that Terrible Day came. All it really did was steal time I could have spent enjoying the present.

These day, I am trying to be more like a dog. Everest is enjoying the moment, enjoying his life, relishing the time spent with us. What a shame it would be if, instead of also basking in the present, I were going through a series of morbid scenarios in the name of preparation. Nope. Thanks to Hemi, I’ve learned that it’s going to be a Truly Terrible Day, but time is better spent  LIVING IN THE MOMENT.

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KOLO 8 News Now’s Amanda Sanchez shared this image of her friend Ashley spreading her dog Wagner’s ashes over their favorite dog park. I love this picture. It makes me believe that the Rainbow Bridge is real and that losing a friend sometimes means setting them free to play for ever.blogashesdog

Soundproofing

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A year ago, between Christmas and New Year, the Ottawa Canine School moved into its new location. Our new location is still on St. Laurent blvd. 401 B St. Laurent, to be exact, and is literally just the building next to where we used to be. It’s got a bigger training space, a smaller reception area and best of all, a fenced outdoor space!

We are loving our new location and absolutely love having Full Cycle as our neighbours once again.  It’s like being back home again 🙂

As with any new space, it does take a bit of time to get really acquainted with it and get adjusted to everything from where the light switches are, to how the space feels and sounds. Though I did expect to have to do some soundproofing, (because the ceilings are 2 storeys high!!!), we were still a bit surprised by how the sound reverberated in the room and the acoustic challenges of the space.

I’m going to be honest, it was hard to teach and after teaching a few classes, I felt like my ears and head needed a bit of a break. The clients commented on it as well and though most were very patient, we knew that we could not ignore this and quickly set out to do some research. Luckily, our trainer Alana had been a sound engineer in New York City in a previous life, so she had some wonderful advice. We installed some absorbing soundproofing panels on the wall, which made a difference but it wasn’t enough.

We did more research and contacted all of the local soundproofing “gurus”in town. Our first pick, Mike of Acoustic Panels Ottawa was the only one who responded. Mike came by to check out the space, made recommendations, and a month later he was hard at work installing custom made soundproofing panels!

Soundproofing panels going up!

A total of 9 acoustic panels were installed

You spoke, we listened… and now we can hear you even better!

Keep your dogs safe during the howlidays

Chantal Mills No Comments

It’s never too early to start thinking about preparing for a safe and happy holiday season, am I right?

Especially with the beautiful blanket of snow covering the ground, some Christmas lights already enlivening the streets, it is not easy to forget that Christmas is a mere 36 days away.

We start decorating December 1st, mainly because our son’s birthday is at the end of November and we focus on that before turning our thoughts to getting Holiday Ready. Whatever your tradition, please keep these tips in mind when getting ready for the holiday season.

Pet Safety For The Holidays Infographic

Why you should become a dog trainer

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1. You love dogs. You are that person, no matter where you are: you seem to find dogs and they seem to find you. You’re an avid reader and of course have read a lot about your canine friends. But still, it’s not enough. You want to know why they do the things they do. Why does your dog lick the couch, bark incessantly, or whine all the time? These are the kind of questions you want answers to!  Good news! As a dog trainer, you get to be surrounded by dogs on a daily basis.  If you’re having a bad day, just sit in on a puppy class. It’s fun to watch, but even more fun to teach! Oh how I love to see those little ones learn and bloom.  Interacting with dogs every day, no matter how old they are, is a pretty sweet gig.

2. You enjoy variety. If you like to do the same thing everyday, you can certainly set your schedule up that way, but if you enjoy variety, this is your gig. From puppy training to helping folks with potty training, dog training covers an extremely wide spectrum. That is what keeps it fun and exciting. Sometimes, especially if you do one-on-one private training, you will enjoy working with a variety of people and their dogs. It’s entertaining, stimulating, enriching and, at times, extremely touching.

3. You like to be the master of your schedule. If you feel as though you lack some control over how your day goes, you will find little of this kind of stress in dog training. You can set your hours, determine how many days a week you want to teach, decide how many group classes vs. private training classes you will do, and when you will do them. You are your own boss, my friend. Don’t get me wrong here. You will work hard and it won’t always be rainbows and lollipops, but I can tell you that although I work hard, I’ve never felt so free.

4.You love to learn. I can’t imagine ANY career where you just feel you have learned enough and know it all. The dog training industry is no different. There is so much to learn and so many incredibly talented, intelligent, compassionate, vivacious people to learn from. Lets not forget the exciting conferences held in enticing locales. I’ve travelled throughout Canada and the US to attend conferences that have had a huge impact on how I approach training. Continuing education in the dog training world is fun, practical and sometimes pretty mind blowing.

5. You enjoy being kind to animals and to people. An enriching, exciting, wonderful career awaits you if you enjoy working with both sides of the leash.  Being patient, kind and innovative goes a long way with both dogs and their handlers. It’s not enough, I’m afraid, to just love dogs. You must also enjoy working with people.

Interested in learning more about becoming a dog trainer?  

Check out our certification program and change your life!

Trick or treat!

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Treat
[/trēt/ Noun:  Something that gives great pleasure. An act of providing something for somebody else at one’s own expense]

When you think of the word treat, what comes to mind? A nice Belgian Wheat Beer? A piece of dark chocolate? A day at the Nordik Spa? All of the above?

For my dog, a treat is a cookie that he gets as part of our daily routine, an off leash romp or a simple walk in the neighbourhood. Treats, however, have no place in our training regimen. We are not offering a special rare indulgence. In fact, if we treated our dogs when training, we would find it incredibly unsuccessful.

Before you start wondering if I’m about to start promoting some unsavoury training methods, let me reassure you that we absolutely do use food, toys and fun activities in our training. We call them reinforcements and we give them to reinforce the wanted behaviour.  For example, a small piece of cheese can be used as a reinforcement for a behaviour and we must not be stingy with our training aids when our dog is learning a new behaviour.

The reinforcer is given as a consequence of the dog’s behaviour and consequently, makes him want to repeat said behaviour. The reinforcer is anything that the dog truly enjoys. It is also something that can be given quickly and enjoyed quickly  (which is why food is ideal). My dog LOVES to play in the snow, but if I used this as a reinforcement when training a new behaviour, it would not make for an ideal training session. My dog also likes a good bum scratch, but this is not as powerful as a piece of cheese.

Most trainers I know love to use food because it is quick and easy to deliver, but for some dogs, the best reinforcer is a toy. Tugs are great in training, provided your dog loves the game !

What are some of your dog’s favourite things, that you can use as a reinforcer?

Remember that CONSEQUENCES (and not cues or what we used to call “commands”) drive behaviour!

 

BARKING BARISTA COFFEE COMPANY IS IN THE HOUSE!

Chantal Mills No Comments

bbcoffee

At the Ottawa Canine School, WE LOVE DOGS and WE LOVE COFFEE! Not just any coffee, but freshly roasted coffee from beans that are organic and have been traded fairly. Barking Barista coffee is just that – Artisan coffee, hand roasted in small batches for ultimate freshness & your tasting pleasure. We offer only the best, fairly traded, beans.

What does this have to do with dogs you ask?

Quite a bit! We are passionate about helping dogs. While you are enjoying a very delicious cup of coffee, you are helping dogs too because part of proceeds goes to help dogs in need. Drink coffee. Help dogs.

A bit about us.

The Barking Barista coffee company is a husband & wife venture. Matt is an engineer by day and coffee roaster by night. He uses both his engineer brain and his creative/intuitive side when roasting. Chantal is a teacher and the owner of the Ottawa Canine School. It only made sense to roast great, fresh, organic, fairly and often directly traded coffee and have part of proceeds go to the dogs.


Some of the dogs the Barking Barista has helped so far.

Since its launch, in December of 2013, the Barking Barista has helped BREEZY, a dog who was severely beaten, received the treatment she deserved and was adopted (and even attended some classes at the Ottawa Canine School with her new owners!)   The Barking Barista has also helped GIBSON the Schnauzer, in early 2014 when he needed a bit of help with his medical bills. Gibson is well knows in the local rescue world and has done a lot to help rescue dogs. It was time to give back a little. Part of proceeds also went to help CAPTAIN and other dogs from the Sit With Me Rescue. Chantal had a chance to meet Captain  and he is a very sweet dog, though at the time, he was still very groggy from his most recent surgery. The vets do believe that he has suffered quite a bit of physical abuse, which may also be the reason he is blind in one eye.

You can read about our donation to the Ottawa Dog Rescue in this blog post .
 

Request support for a dog or rescue in need

If you would like the Barking Baristas to know about a dog in need, we’d love to hear from you.  Reach out and request our support, or request coffee for your fundraiser. Find out more about how we help.

Where to get Barking Barista coffee

Barking Barista coffee beans are available in person at the Ottawa Canine School at 401 B St. Laurent blvd.(same building as Full Cycle). You can also order online.

Visit our website to see where you can pick up a bag of beans: www.barkingbarista.com

like us on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/Barkingbarista

Turn your dog into a CHEW-A-HOLIC

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Dogs have a biological need to chew. Even though chewing is normal and healthy, it can still be a regular problem—for you and your furniture. Whether your dog is a puppy or a newly adopted grown dog, get him hooked on chew toys instead of your shoes.  Kong and Nylabone make a wide variety of durable, good quality products that can meet your dog’s chewing needs. 

Prevent mistakes. When you can’t supervise, put your dog in an enclosed, dog-proofed area with a sanctioned chewie. 

Teach good chewing choices. Dogs have texture preferences, so try to match what yours like. If he is attacking the couch pillows, try giving him plush toys. If he is eyeing the table leg, try a bone. Praise liberally when your dog chews something allowed.

Interrupt mistakes. If your dog chews the wrong thing, interrupt and trade him for something he can chew on. Praise liberally when he does.

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