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Archive for February, 2010

Carol’s Corner – How to Reward Multiple Behaviors at the Same Time

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

Dear Carol,

We have talked about rewarding Nemo as strangers approach. My concern is that I am also trying to work with him on not pulling the leash when we’re walking. You taught us to use leash corrections and/or frequently reward the dog for maintaining a slack leash. If I am rewarding him frequently for maintaining a slack leash, but also rewarding him when strangers approach, won’t the messages be mixed? Does rewarding him for keeping a slack leash diminish the excitement about a reward when strangers walk by?

Thanks, Niya


Dear Niya,

I wouldn’t worry about sending Nemo a mixed message when rewarding both a slack leash and when strangers approach. It is true you cannot shape for more than one aspect of a behavior at a time(a straight and fast sit, for example). However, once you are getting a reliably straight sit (by way of example), you can then begin to selectively reinforce the faster responses to shape for fast sits. Once the sits are straight and fast, you could then shape for another aspect of the behavior if you wished, i.e., straight, fast and with eye contact. You can however, reinforce more than one behavior when you train. If Nemo gets rewarded when the leash is slack as well as when people approach, both behaviors will become stronger. There is merit in your concern that rewarding Nemo for maintaining a slack leash could diminish his excitement for the reward when strangers walk by. If he is highly motivated by the reward, it shouldn’t be much of a problem. If that’s not the case, you may want to set up situations where you and Nemo are stationary and you’re only rewarding him as people walk past. The distance between Nemo and the passerby should be such that Nemo is comfortable enough to stay at your side and eat the reward. If Nemo tries to hide behind your legs or refuses the treat, you are too close. In time and with practice, you will be able to move closer to the approaching person while still keeping Nemo comfortable, as the rewards will have changed the way Nemo feels about the situation. There are other things that can be done to make Nemo more comfortable with people and I would be happy to discuss this further next term.

See you soon, Carol

Carol Hein-Creger
Director of Training
Canine Training Center

Carol Hein-Creger has been training dogs and their owners for over 30 years. She has trained thousands of people, including many local dog trainers. Carol is currently teaching at AnnaBelle’s Pet Station in downtown Lansing. Check out her her upcoming class schedule. Do you have a training question for Carol? Send an email to info@coolcitydogs.com with “Carol’s Corner” in the subject line or use the “Contact Us” form.

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Feelin’ the Love this Valentine’s Day – A Special Thanks to all of AnnaBelle’s Clients and Fans!

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

We started AnnaBelle’s Pet Station for one reason – we LOVE dogs – our dogs, your dogs, show dogs, rescue dogs, all dogs! It was a long road to opening with many struggles and obstacles along the way (and in front of us still). Our plan was to open a full-scale, 24 hour training, grooming, day care, and overnight boarding facility, which required a massive renovation of our building. Our plan was derailed by the economic downturn and the credit market freeze. We had to rethink, reorganize, and regroup. We downsized our plans, did a small renovation, and with dogged determination and our mission in mind, we finally opened with dog training and grooming in March 2009. With master trainer Carol Hein-Creger of the Canine Training Center leading our training program, her assistant and professional handler Erinn Hadley in tow, and Dawn Pizzoferrato, clicker trainer extraordinaire, our expert training team was in place.

Robin Hiar, one of AnnaBelle’s owners, who graduated from the Michigan School of Canine Cosmetology in March 2009, was set to start her own grooming business from scratch. As anyone in the service industry knows, she had a big challenge in front of her – establishing a client base in a tough, competitive business and an even tougher economy. With the personality and perseverance first born in the hills of Kentucky, Robin showed her clients both her love of dogs and her talent for grooming.

The third piece started coming together in late 2009, when we began plans to move forward with the Day Care Depot. We wanted to offer something unique and different with our doggie day care – a program we each felt comfortable having our own dogs participate in. AnnaBelle’s Day Care Depot is not “all day play.” Rather, the dogs are matched in small play groups, with structured training and play activities, romp time, rest time, and outdoor walks. We soon put our day care team in place, with Dawn Pizzoferrato, certified dog trainer, and Stephanie Lamb, the Behavior Coordinator at the Capital Area Humane Society. Stephanie has extensive experience evaluating temperaments, successfully matching up play groups, setting up daily exercise and rest schedules, and preventing kennel stress. With Dawn and Stephanie, we had the perfect team in place to supervise our unique day care program. We also developed a dog behavior internship program for Pre-Veterinary Medical Students at Michigan State University. Our students are learning about dog behavior in the day care and training settings from the best trainers and dog behaviorists in the Lansing area. And our interns offer love, enthusiasm, and dedicated care to our canine clients. In January, 2010, the Day Care Depot opened for business.

We could not have come this far without the support of the local business community, Lansing-area dog lovers from all walks of life, and the dedication of every member of the AnnaBelle’s team! We are constantly amazed and heartened by the positive feedback we receive every day at the shop, during classes, on facebook and twitter, and most recently, in response to our nomination for Intuit’s Love a Local Business campaign. The love we receive from our loyal customers and clients makes the struggle all worthwhile and keeps us determined to make AnnaBelle’s a long term success. We just wanted to say thank you to our clients and customers and we will continue to do our very best to love and care for your beloved furry family members.

Furry hugs and wet kisses, AnnaBelle’s Pet Station