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Losing a friend

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.

****

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

Ottawa Canine School No Comments

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.

Why I left my six-figure job

Ottawa Canine School 2 comments

Why I walked away from a six-figure job.

by Chantal Mills

In 2003 I was a High School Guidance Counsellor. It was what I’d aspired to become when I started my teaching career, nearly a decade earlier.  I had achieved my goal, and was living my dream by day, and obsessed with learning as much as I could about dogs by night. I couldn’t wait to spend my free time either with dogs or learning about them.

In 2004 I signed up for an expensive course to learn how to become a dog trainer. I never thought it would lead to opening a dog training business. My goal was simply to put a stop to the intense drive I had that was keeping me awake, pushing me to know everything I could about dogs. I mistakenly thought that by taking the professional dog training course, by having the information and by doing the hands-on work, it would satiate my hunger for knowledge.

In retrospect, the love of animals has always been there. Growing up, you’d find me in my neighbour’s barn, either hanging out with the horses or helping with the milking of the cows. I have pictures of me sleeping in the mud room with our dog because I didn’t want him to sleep alone. It’s a bit embarrassing but I’ll tell you anyway… I would take walks in the forest with arms outstretched, in the hopes that birds would feel welcomed to land on my arms. I talked to the animals and asked that they come out of hiding. In grade 7, I set up a phone interview with a veterinarian in Alfred, Ontario. He was very generous with his time. That conversation convinced me that I wanted to become a veterinarian.

Unfortunately, my talents lay not in math and science, and by the time I was in University, my calling to become a teacher was loud and clear. My love of animals did not disappear whilst in University. Maybe one day I’ll tell you about the time, near the end of the semester, I bought a Golden Retriever puppy and hid him in my dorm room in the hopes that I would never get caught. Trying to raise a puppy on the 16th floor of a dorm residence during exam time, all while keeping him secret, was not my best idea.  I learned a lot from that experience. Barney had a great life despite my clumsy start with him. He especially loved swimming and trying to rescue anyone else who was trying to enjoy the water.

After graduating from the Professional Dog Trainer program, my dog training career just took off. At first, my aim was to make enough money to pay myself back for the course.  Before I knew it, I was teaching group classes in a community centre. In a parallel universe, my teaching career was taking its own direction. In 2007, I  became a Vice-Principal, all while doing my dog training on the side. Here is a picture of me with my dog Everest. I’d bring him to work weekly so he could spend the day with the kids. They took him for walks and read to him. Both the kids and Everest loved it.

In November of 2009, my son was born. During my maternity leave, I opened the Ottawa Canine School.  I extended my maternity leave for as long as I could, but in the summer of  2012, I had to make a decision. I resigned from teaching.  Walking away from a job I loved, a six-figure career, a generous amount of holiday time and iron clad job security was not a decision taken lightly.

Friends and family called me “brave” and “courageous” but to be honest, I never felt any fear. I never felt as though I was being brave. The road that took me toward becoming a dog trainer was a road I could not not take. The decision to open a dog training school and jump head first into the world of business felt like the absolute right thing to do.  Going for it was not optional, it was destiny.

 

 

No doubt about it, there is a lot of work for those in the dog training industry. I once heard someone say “where there are dogs, there are problems” and I suppose for those in the dog training business, that is good news! But not everyone should become a dog trainer.

Are you wondering if perhaps a career in dog training is for you? I’ve got a little checklist for you. 

If you love animals but are not a people person, dog training is not likely to be a fulfilling career for you. If you thought dog training was about dogs, you’re right. But it’s also about helping people. In fact, I’d argue that dog training is more about people than about dogs.

Want to know more about the dog training industry and perhaps how you can go about becoming a dog trainer? Get the free guide.

Happy Howlidays

Chantal Mills No Comments

From everyone at the Ottawa Canine School,

We wish you and yours a very happy holidays! May you enjoy some extra cuddle time with your animals, extra long walks with your canine friend and a few lazy mornings just taking in the beauty of the simple things.

We hope to see you in the new year!

 

 

We are moving!!

Ottawa Canine School 6 comments

In 2010, when we were first setting up the current location of the Ottawa Canine School, my son was 7 months old. We’d set up the Jolly Jumper in the middle of the room while we worked away. 👶 Andre, who is now retired from the Ottawa Canine School, worked tirelessly to help get the school ready. His wife, Donna, brought her tools and miter saw and helped us so much. 🙏 My husband, Matt, did a stellar job tidying up all the electrical panels and random wires hanging from the ceiling.

And today, we are at it again. My team is excited for the change and we are excited to bring you an even better dog school experience.💖

We went to see the space last Sunday for the first time and I snapped this picture of my son, now 8 years old, running around the floor of our soon-to-be new space. We will be putting down the same thick rubber mats that the dogs love. But in the meantime, it’s a young boy’s dream race track!

 

We are thrilled to be able to offer you a bigger space and an enclosed outdoor area! We are not going very far at all from our current location , but it will be an exciting change for all.⭐️

Our new space has had a fresh coat of paint (or two, or three…), thanks to the amazing Len of Commercial Painting and Renovations Ltd.  A BIG shoutout also goes to Cindy from Randall’s Paint for the paint colour consult and vision.

All the electrical work is now complete. Sexy LED strips have been installed thanks to Stéphane at SBL electric.

Now the next step, of getting settled in begins. Matt, hubby and behind-the-scenes support extraordinaire is already all over this. He has been the Canine School’s #1 cheerleader since its conception, in the back of my mind. I still have the card he gave me after I got my very first client. Matt stays in the background, but the OCS would NOT exist without him. I am ever grateful for his tireless, generous support.

The amazing OCS team is incredibly supportive, offering skills, time, help. We make a good team. Even trainers enrolled in the Dog Training Certification program are offering help. We will be ready, come snow, freezing rain, hell or high water, to open our NEW DOORS on January 1st.  Ok, make that January 3rd because, you know, we do need to celebrate the new year after all! And so do you!

WE ARE SO EXCITED!!!!

Here are a few pictures of the work in progress.

Even the ceiling was painted. What a job. Rubber flooring will be going down between Xmas and New Year.

 

The reception area’s inspiring view. It’s so close to the Park!

Matt, the electrical engineer, simultaneously looking at the floor he wants to redo and the electrical outlet that needs a new cover. This will be our new reception area.

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