Contact Us
517.599.0995
600 South Capitol Ave.
Lansing, MI 48933
Fax: 517.853.5888
Newsletter
Sign up for our newsletter email:
Bookmark and Share

Archive for the ‘Training’ Category

Instilling A Love of Training: Rory and Gator

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

There is nothing more satisfying as a dog trainer than when a student learns to LOVE training their dogs.  Carol Hein-Creger of the Canine Training Center shares a letter she recently received from a student who has discovered this joy.

Hi Carol,

I talked to my Mom last night and she was very excited after taking Gator to his Calm & Confident class. I am so happy that she is doing classes with him and I know that she enjoys it.

I am so thankful for all that you taught me about dog training. There was a time where I was very concerned about Gator’s reactivity and wasn’t sure that it would get better. Considering how much he loves going with me everywhere, I knew that this would not be a good fate for him (or me). After Calm & Confident and Agility 1&2 we were able to learn the skills that would help him increase his confidence and increase his threshold. He even was able to go on a date with me at the end of the summer in a busy pedestrian mall in an outdoor restaurant (did I mention he likes going everywhere with me?). Despite many life changes in the past 12 months, the groundwork you instilled in us help give Gator stability that would help him grow into adulthood.

It is also so fun to see how easy it is to train Rory using the same methodology. I felt confident going into puppy training after my experience with Gator’s reactivity – but I hadn’t quite realized that puppies don’t know anything at all. For example, climbing up stairs? No clue! “Good boy!” No reaction. “No!” and Rory would continue his destructive behavior. After my initial moment of panic when I realized what I had gotten myself into, we were able to fall back on the basics I had learned and progress forward. In the first week I had him, he learned to “Sit,” “Down,” “Wait,” “Touch,” and “High-Five.” By the second week, he learned “Kennel,” and “Leave it.” Now, he knows leave it so well that he can be playing with a leaf across the yard and I can say “Leave it” and he will come running. Though it isn’t perfect, I feel confident moving forward and know that Rory has a foundation that will help him grow into a confident adult dog.

Rory and Gator are half brothers – so it will be fun to see how Rory develops. I have seen a slight reactivity in the puppy that we will need to work on, but so far he has done incredibly well in his new home.

Thank you for all that you have taught me. Though my dogs might not be perfect, they are absolutely perfect for me and you have helped us all realize our full potential.

Wish I was back in East Lansing so I could continue training Rory with you! Thank you again!

Take care, Charlsey

Carol Hein-Creger, the director of the Canine Training Center, has been training dogs and their owners since 1979. She has trained thousands of people, including many local dog trainers. Carol is the lead trainer at AnnaBelle’s Pet Station in downtown Lansing. Check out her upcoming class schedule. Do you have a training or behavior question for Carol?  Send an email to info@coolcitydogs.com with “Carol’s Corner” in the subject line or use the “Contact Us” form.

email

The Most Important Training Tool: The Right Leash

Sunday, May 18th, 2014

A lot of us at AnnaBelle’s love dog gadgets and we have tons of the latest and greatest in the vast and varied world of dog care and training. But, probably the most important tool for effective dog training is a good leash  that doesn’t slip in your hands.  A leash doesn’t need to be custom-made or super-expensive to fulfill this critical need.

Deer Ridge Leather Leash

The most important feature of a good training leash is the material. Nylon, chain, and retractable leashes can cause injuries, especially during training classes and in other stimulating environments.

Even if you are using 100% positive reinforcement during your training, you must be able to comfortably, effectively, and safely hold onto your dog in order to teach him not to pull and to keep him safe.

Leather, rubber, and Brahma Webb®, are the best for being

Brahma Webb® Leash

easy on the hands. Leather is every trainer’s favorite for sure, but often has to be broken in to be at its best and most comfortable. While it is worth the work in our opinion, for more immediate, easy to use options that don’t require breaking in, we love the rubber Gripper® leashes and the Brahma Webb® all-weather leashes.

At AnnaBelle’s, we offer a variety of durable, quality, and moderately priced leashes that are excellent for dog training, walking, and every day use. And, currently registered training students get 15% off any of our leashes. Check out our selection the next time you’re at AnnaBelle’s!

Carol’s Corner: Dog Training Q&A

Sunday, April 13th, 2014
links

Carol’s Corner: Dog Training Q&A

Hi Carol!

First off, I wanted to thank you for a great class! This was Captain’s and my first class together, and it has really helped us both! He’s much more responsive off-leash, and we have an even better connection! We’re continuing to work on building the skills we learned, and both enjoy the training times. I’m also wondering if I might get some advice from you on one or two issues.

Issue 1 (the biggest): Pottying in the yard. We’ve been together 1 year, and it’s taken this long to establish at least a just before bed pee in the yard (he pooped there twice, even, in Feb). We potty on walks first thing in the morning, and while at work. So, it took him awhile to get the yard (and many, many trials of approaches) – he kept holding out for walks. I eventually got him to pee in the yard in the early evening, and just before bed. But now that the snow is gone, we’ve played in the yard a couple times (after he peed) and he is now being stubborn about using it to pee. He mostly will continue to do it just before bed, but early evening or any other time, he just barks and wants to play, now. He’ll lift the leg – but then decide not to go. Once he knows there’s a better option, oh-oh! He usually only poops a couple blocks away. Very particular! I’d also like to be able to offer him the yard OR a walk in the early evening when it’s nice, but fear if I do the walk once, it may make the early evening potty even more of an issue. I’m truly grateful for his progress of at least doing it before bed, AND that he does it outside!!

Issue 2 – Barking at home. We’re making progress! Captain likes to let me know when anyone on the street gets in their car, walks by, etc. He’s getting better about just alerting to door arrivals. But it’s hard to get him to settle once the person comes in and I say it’s okay. I’m not sure of approach or commands, so I know that’s part of it. His breeder/trainer said he responds to “Quit!”, which is true sometimes, but not always. I’ve tried having him sit, and reward him for that, which changes focus, at least. And then reward him for “quiet”, but I’m not sure this is being most effective. I will try with higher-quality treats and see if that helps… So, any thoughts you might have would be great, or setting up a consult would be fine, too. Hope you’re enjoying this beautiful weather, today! Gracie.

Pilot, the handsome Collie
Captain, the handsome Collie

Hi Gracie,

Thanks for your kind words. Captain is such a sweet boy! Here are some ideas for the issues you raised.

1. For at least a couple of weeks, I suggest that you do not give Captain the option of pottying outside of the yard. That does not necessarily mean you can’t walk him, but if you do, keep him moving right along. Don’t let him stop to sniff or engage in any of the precursor behaviors to eliminating. When you take him out in the yard, use a specific cue (I say “Get busy”) when you see him start to sniff or do anything he typically does before he poops or pees. Do not engage in any play until he goes. If he barks, either TOTALLY ignore him (to the point of even turning away) or take him back into the house. If you are concerned about him eliminating in the house, either crate him until you’re ready to take him outside again or tether him to you. Your attitude should be very matter of fact during this time, not punishing. When he DOES go potty in the yard, make a big deal about it; praise him enthusiastically, give him a treat and play with him. In short, teach him the “party starts” as soon as he does his business in the yard, not before.

2. Congratulations on the progress you’re making! As you know, collies can be rather vocal at times. To teach Captain to stop barking when people come over, use a specific command (“Quit” is as good as any) and then say something like “Let’s go get a cookie” as you take him away from the person into the kitchen where you’ll give him several very high value treats. You may have to initially have Captain on leash if he’s reluctant to follow you out of the room, but I have a feeling that won’t be an issue, especially after he’s been rewarded in the kitchen a few times. After a time, you should be able to reward him in the same room as the visitor, and then progress to having the visitor deliver the treats. I encourage you to consider enrolling Captain in an Agility class. Agility is a great confidence builder and I think you would both really enjoy it.

ctc yellow logoSincerely, Carol

Carol Hein-Creger
Director of Training
Canine Training Center

Carol Hein-Creger has been training dogs and their owners since 1979. She has trained thousands of people, including many local dog trainers. Carol is the lead trainer at AnnaBelle’s Pet Station in downtown Lansing. Check out her upcoming class schedule. Do you have a training or behavior question for Carol? Send an email to info@coolcitydogs.com with “Carol’s Corner” in the subject line or use the “Contact Us” form.

Observations and Reflections: the Andrew Ramsey Method of Training Nose Work

Monday, November 11th, 2013

Author: Dawn Archer Pizzoferrato, ABCDT

nosedreamstime_11906739I recently had the opportunity to attend an Andrew Ramsey Nose Work seminar.  Andrew Ramsey is a dog trainer who is one of the primary developers of the UKC Nose Work program.  I audited the first day of a two-day seminar in the Detroit area. With the growing popularity of the Nose Work sport, the United Kennel Club has jumped on board in developing a program of their own and who could blame them. Since the UKC is headquartered in Kalamazoo, Michigan, we are seeing many of their Nose Work programs popping up all over the state.  So I took this opportunity to find out what it was all about.  I came away from the seminar with quite a few opinions of this program, some good, some not so good.

First of all, I would like to tell you what I found out about Andrew Ramsey.  Andrew is young (33-years-old) and I found him to be engaging, funny, and quirky (and I like quirky!).  Most of Andrew’s training experience is with the US military where he started in the detection dog puppy-breeding program and moved on to actually training detection dogs. The breed of dog he grew up with and still owns today is the Dachshund. He also owns a Belgian Malinois, and thus has a lot of personal and professional experience with high-drive working dogs. In addition to offering group classes in the San Francisco area, he now travels around the country giving Nose Work seminars and working with UKC to develop their Nose Work program.  There are already some significant differences between the NACSW and the UKC title trials, including the addition of two more odors, Vetiver and Myrrh along with 5 title levels.

Box searching in my K9 Nose Work class

Box searching in my K9 Nose Work class

Now, on to more specifics of the seminar! As I mentioned earlier, while I only audited the class, I was also able to observe several working teams.  Most of the dogs in these teams were high drive working dog breeds. There were several shepherds (Dutch, Belgian, German and Australian), a Rottweiler, a Toller, a Jack Russell and even a Beauceron.  And many of the handlers were professional trainers or highly experienced sport dog handlers.  There were maybe a couple of casual pet owner-handlers.

The room was set-up with a line of various container type objects.  These were of three types, plastic “office organization” dresser drawers, cardboard boxes (all the same size and shape) standing on end with a round hole, and plastic bins with lids. These containers were in a line, up against a wall alternating between the three types. Andrew explained to us that he doesn’t use boxes because they elicit too much play and pawing behavior from the dogs. And he doesn’t introduce box searches until the dog is on odor and giving a trained final response.

There was a screen in place, which blocked the view of the container line from the dog waiting to search.  Andrew used a treat tube to put the dog’s primary reward in, which he shook to get the dog’s attention. Andrew immediately started with a pattern search. He placed the primary reward on a plate/shallow bowl inside the bottom drawer of the first dresser. The drawer was left open.  This was the only open drawer in the line.  The dog and handler come out from behind the screen and waited a short distance from the open drawer. Andrew asks the handler to “hold” there as he shakes the tube containing the treats. This peaks the dogs attention and they try to move towards Andrew.  The dog is held there on a taut line as Andrew pretends to drop the treat tube in the drawer (he really places it under his arm) and taps the drawer with his hand. This tap is the signal to the handler to allow the dog to move forward, investigate the drawer, and reap the reward.  The dog is then pulled off the drawer, brought behind the screen and this hide is repeated.

The third hide is then placed in the second plastic dresser drawer, which is right beside the first. The first drawer is left open.  When the dog is in place, Andrew again shakes the treat tube, pretends to drop it in the first drawer, and then taps the drawer.  The handler then releases the dog, allowing it to investigate the first drawer. When no treat is found, it immediately checks out the drawer next door and finds the treat there.  This is repeated all along down the row of boxes and bins and dresser drawers.  Also, as the dog leaves each empty drawer and moves on to the next, Andrew walks along with it, never moving in front of the dog.

Working an elevated hide in my K9 Nose Work class.

Working an elevated hide in my K9 Nose Work class.

All the dogs did very nicely finding the hides during these searches. They all followed the pattern, each one sticking his head into each new open drawer until eventually finding the food, except one dog. This was the dog I knew had already had NACSW Nose Work training. When the hide had been place down the row a little ways, this particular dog bypassed many of the open drawers and went right for that drawer where the food was hidden.  In contrast, there was a handler (a very experienced handler), who, when his dog bypassed a drawer, would bring his dog all the way back to the beginning to search all the drawers again, each one in order.

In the afternoon, searching for odor began.  The searches were with paired odor and went pretty much the same as the morning searches, except about half way through, Andrew started closing the drawers where the paired odor was hidden just as the dog reached it and he brought out the clicker. Being a clicker trainer in the obedience world, I was especially curious on how he would use the clicker in this venue. When the dogs found the drawer where the pair odor was located, Andrew took hold of the lead making it taut. When the dog stopped sniffing and just focused on the crack of opening in the drawer, he clicked and opened the drawer, letting the dog eat. There didn’t seemed to be any ill effects from having the drawer closed on the noses of these very high drive dogs. But if any of the dogs pawed at a drawer the next hide was elevated in an attempt to stop any pawing. Eventually, as the afternoon progressed the drawers started out closed and the dog was clicked for the behavior of focus at the crack in the drawer. Andrew said he required both behavior and position from the dog to earn a click and an open drawer.

Andrew finished with a short lecture explaining why he opposes boxes, waiting to introduce odor, a lengthy process of pairing hides, and why he trains final responses so soon.  His support for his opposition to all of these practices was essentially that if it’s something that you need eventually, why not train it from the start? He spoke a short while about “pet” dogs, saying that they are typically too well fed to have much drive for Nose Work and they may take more time and work.

Working the room with lots of distractions!

Working the room in my K9 Nose Work class with lots of distractions!

As I indicated earlier, I came away liking some things, so let me start with those.  I liked Andrew. Like I said, he is quirky. His nerdy intelligence was fun to watch.  I also like the little treat tube he used and will try to find one for my own clicker training use.  In my view, the plastic drawers could be quite useful in “inaccessible hide” exercises.  And, I like the suet cages he used. He placed odor in plastic cups then placed them in the suet cages. This way, the dogs were able to get a great whiff of odor, without being able to actually come in contact with the q-tip.  That was really it. That’s all I liked.

Now I can let you in on what I didn’t care for. I did not like pattern searches.  Isn’t the goal of Nose Work to find the odor?  Of course it is.  So why care about how the dog gets to it? I understand that eventually in the training process, the handler is going have be aware of areas that may not have been covered, and “clear the room,” but in the beginning, it should be about the hunting game.

This brings me to my primary disagreement with this training technique. This training method is very focused on the dog alerting on the odor, not the dog “seeking” the hide.  In the book Animals Make Us Human, Dr. Temple Grandin writes about “seeking” in animals.  In “The Blue-Ribbon Emotions” chapter, Dr. Grandin quotes Dr. Jaak Panksepp, a neuroscientist at Washington State University. Dr. Panksepp calls SEEKING “the basic impulse to search, investigate, and make sense of the environment.”  Dr. Grandin goes on to say, “SEEKING is a very pleasurable emotion.”  And the pleasure felt when SEEKING is the pleasure of “looking forward” to something good, not the pleasure of “having” something good. Think about the beagle who has gotten lost while on a really hot rabbit track … but who never catches the rabbit.  Does that Beagle have any less fun during the hunt than the Beagle that actually catches its quarry? I think not.  Obviously “finding” food after hunting is a huge reward for the search. But, in my view, the love of the “hunt” is not diminished with the lack of a “kill.” Obviously hunger will build drive. After all, when it comes to dogs, their work ethic, as well as their entire relationship with humans, it is and always has been about the food.  It’s what brought us together in the first place and it’s what keeps us together.  But something other than hunger drives dogs to hunt. Pleasure.

WATCH Chip learn to hunt, build drive, and trust his nose in just a few short sessions of his K9 Nose Work® Class!

So when a Nose Work training method reduces the “seeking” portion of the hunt, only to concentrate on the end result (final response), I have to wonder if really about the dogs, or is this method more about the handlers?

I started to wonder about this as I thought about WHO was attending this particular seminar, mostly very experienced dog sport handlers and trainers, with already high drive working dogs.  These are exactly the types of students I’ve had in my classes who were the most difficult to get to sit back and let the dog work.  They constantly wanted to interject themselves into the searches in one way or the other.  During this seminar, this type of handler LOVED it when Andrew closed the drawers on their dog’s heads, held their dogs back until they gave a focused stare at the drawer and forced the dogs into a trained final response within a few searches. I’m sure many of these dogs will go on to get quite a few Nose Work titles. But I wonder how the “pet” dogs who are trained under this method will react? How are all those over-fed Poodles and Shit Tzus we see in our classes every week going to like this training? And, what about reactive dogs? Will this type of training increase a dog’s stress instead of reduce stress as we have found with NACSW-style Nose Work? With this method so focused on the “final response,” I wonder how many of these dogs will start alerting on things other than odor. When the search becomes about behavior instead of searching, this is a big, and unfortunate, possibility.

I found this UKC training method is more about “getting” a dog to search and find odor instead of “letting” or “allowing” a dog search and find odor.  This is where I believe the NASCW K9 Nose Work® training method is superior to the UKC/Ramsey method.  From start to finish, the NACSW method is more about the dog than the handler.  From where I, my dogs, and my student’s dogs stand, that’s just fine. Because in the end, I think we will not only have happier dogs, but also more successful dogs. Only time will tell.

Learn more about Dawn and let her help you get  your dog on target!

Dawn is an Animal Behavior College Certified Dog Trainer, an experienced Nose Work Instructor, an AKC Canine Good Citizen evaluator, a certified Therapy Dog International® Evaluator, and the owner of Arrow Dog Training.  Dawn is AnnaBelle’s resident clicker training specialist and she can help you Get Your Dog on Target!

Dawn uses scientifically proven “clicker training” and “free shaping” to teach your dog all the basics plus other fun, useful behaviors. She uses operant conditioning and positive reinforcement, without correction, to help you and your dog build a bond of trust and respect.

In addition to presenting Doggie Do Good clicker classes, Dawn also offers Nose Work and TDI® classes. Dawn’s group classes are taught at AnnaBelle’s on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings. Click here to see her complete class schedule!

Training with “Shaping”: A True Story of Trust, Respect and Love

Sunday, November 10th, 2013

Author: Dawn Archer Pizzoferrato, ABCDT

clicker3Training using the training methods of “Capturing” and “Shaping” are by far my favorite ways to train most behaviors. After all, I’m a clicker trainer. It’s my specialty. Using a clicker is the best way to get fast results because it’s quick and accurate. Speed and accuracy are key to success when using these methods.

Before I get to my story, let me first explain just what “Capturing” and “Shaping” are. They are different, yet related and are often used in unison with one another. “Shaping” is using a marker, like a clicker, to mark and reinforce (with a food reward) tiny increments or approximations of behavior towards an ultimate goal behavior.  A “click” means the dog is moving in the right direction and no click means he is not and he needs to try something else. Using this training method, you can create complex behaviors like closing a door or putting away toys.

“Capturing” occurs when your dog just does something you like (for instance, he flops on his side as if dead) and you click and reward that full behavior. You then just wait for the behavior to occur again so that you can repeat the click and reward. What happens next is truly amazing. The dog soon figures out that a particular behavior is causing YOU to click and the dog repeats it, over and over. Trainers call that “offering behavior.”  From this point, you can simply add a cue or command when the dog is “offering behavior” and in just a few minutes, you will have a behavior on command.

So now, on to my story. This story is about MacKinley, the most beautiful (and big) Greyhound I have ever had the pleasure to meet. I first saw MacKinley when he was walking down the stairs of the facility where I teach training classes. He was there for his first training class, my Canine Good Citizen: Clicker Style class.  As I  mentioned, MacKinley is BIG; as large as an average sized Great Dane.  His head comes up to my chest and he is thin, yet muscular and sleek, and elegant and light on his feet like most Greyhounds.  But, unlike many Greyhounds, MacKinley was friendly, VERY friendly. Don’t get me wrong, Greyhounds are not generally unfriendly, they just aren’t  typically exuberant, especially if they have just retired from the Greyhound racing circuit as MacKinley had.

leah 1At MacKinley’s side was his owner, Leah.  Herself thin and elegant. And, also a real beauty. They matched.

After interviewing Leah, I learned that she had tried to register for my Therapy Dog class but it was full and she was counseled to take the CGC class to help towards their goal of becoming a Therapy Dog team. What at first was disappointing for Leah, actually turned out to be fortuitous because in this smaller class, I was going to be able to give them more one-on-one instruction. At this time, I also found out more about MacKinley’s personal history. He retired in the Spring of 2012, was relinquished to a Greyhound rescue.  Leah came along very soon after and adopted him.  He literally went from the track into her home, his first home. As of January 2013, they had only been doing obedience work for about a month. Before that, for the previous 6 months, they had just bonded, nothing else. That is where the “Trust” part of this story began. And, that would prove critically important as this pair worked at the formal obedience training phase of their relationship.

I always start this class with an explanation of what the AKC CGC test entails along with a quick evaluation of where each dog stands on the test behaviors. Leah and MacKinley did very well on almost all the requirements. But where they needed work, to put it bluntly, those behaviors were going to be a challenge. You see, retired racing Greyhounds generally don’t know how to sit. Why Greyhounds don’t sit is a matter of debate. Some say it’s because they are aren’t allowed to sit or are punished for sitting so that they don’t sit down in the starting gates. Some say, with their super long legs and highly muscled thighs, they just aren’t comfortable doing it. I suspect it’s a little of both. But the fact remains, the AKC CGC test REQUIRES all dogs to “sit.” Therapy Dog International does not require dogs to “sit,” but the CGC test does. And we knew that getting an adult Greyhound to sit on command when he has NEVER done it before was not going to be easy. So this was not a behavior we could simply “capture” because MacKinley had NEVER sat down before. He also didn’t know “down” on command and his “stay” was not reliable.

Mackinley sitting prettyWhen coming up with a plan to get MacKinley to “sit” on command, I ask Leah if he ever did anything similar to a sit; come to find out, he did. He “leaned.” He often leaned against the sofa or even sometimes, a pile of pillows. That was important because when using the “shaping” method of training, we need to mark (with a clicker, of course) and reward any approximation of behavior towards our final goal. AND, (this is really important) I was NOT going to allow Leah (not that she would anyway) do anything remotely negative with MacKinley that could jeopardize the trust he already had and the mutual respect they were currently working on creating. I asked Leah keep her clicker attached to her and treats squirreled away somewhere close to carefully watch MacKinley when they were at home. She needed to be ready to reinforce ANY leaning he did. I also noticed that MacKinley pretty easily backed-up when she moved into him. We would also use this to reach the first week goal: Get Mackinley to “sit” on the sofa.

And you know what, she did! When they came back to class the next week, MacKinley was easily sitting on the sofa (his back legs sticking straight out in front of him) with just a little forward pressure of Leah walking up to him. He had started offering the behavior and she had started attaching the cue/command to “sit” every time he did it. Leah was well on her way to teaching her dog to sit by “shaping.” Over the next few weeks, we worked on downs (both capturing it at home and luring it while in class) and “release” as a precursor to a good, strong stay. All of which were progressing very nicely. Then one night they came into class and Leah had something to show me. Sure enough, MacKinley sat! While he wasn’t doing it on command yet, he was randomly offering the behavior. And, he was DOING it, over and over. He was doing it just because he knew Leah liked it and when he did it she clicked and he got a treat. That is the power of clicker training. A few days later Leah posted this picture on her Facebook page…Enough said!

Last week Leah and MacKinley took the CGC test. Yes, they PASSED! I couldn’t have been more proud of MacKinley and Leah! And when you see the two of them together, there is no doubt that this human/dog relationship is based strongly on Trust, Respect and so much Love….with help from a little “shaping”and “clicking.”

Originally published on the Arrow Dog Training Blog: Chew On This on 2/21/13.

Learn More About Dawn & How to Get Your Dog On Target!

Dawn is an Animal Behavior College Certified Dog Trainer, an experience Nose Work Instructor, an AKC Canine Good Citizen evaluator, a certified Therapy Dog International® Evaluator, and the owner of Arrow Dog Training.  Dawn is AnnaBelle’s resident clicker training specialist and she can help you Get Your Dog on Target!

Dawn uses scientifically proven “clicker training” and “free shaping” to teach your dog all the basics plus other fun, useful behaviors. She uses operant conditioning and positive reinforcement, without correction, to help you and your dog build a bond of trust and respect.

In addition to presenting Doggie Do Good clicker classes, Dawn also offers Nose Work and TDI® classes. Dawn’s group classes are taught at AnnaBelle’s on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Click here to see her complete class schedule!

K9 Problem Behavior Seminar with Carol Hein-Creger of the Canine Training Center

Sunday, November 10th, 2013

ctc yellow logoHaving some behavioral issues with your dog at home or in public? Need some advice and help problem-solving? Carol Hein-Creger can help! She’s offering a FREE problem behavior seminar at AnnaBelle’s Pet Station on Saturday, December 7, 2013 from 1:30-4:30 p.m. Carol has been teaching and training in the Lansing area since 1979 and is a recognized master at her craft. Learn more about Carol: http://www.coolcitydogs.com/caninetrainingcenter

While this event is dog-friendly, given the seminar format, there is a lot of down time for your dog. We’ll have peanut butter kongs and other yummies on hand to keep your dog busy and distracted. Please feel free to bring toys and treats that your dog loves!  Questions? email training@coolcitydogs.com or call 517.599.0995.

The Power of Our Pooches’ Sniffing Machine

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

Author: Angie Falcsik, CNWI

Most people know that dogs have an amazing sense of smell, but have you ever wondered not only why but just how powerful your pooch’s nose really is?

The dog’s nose consists of a sensory organ, sensory receptors, an olfactory bulb and an incredible nostril, all working together to create an amazing mechanism for detecting a myriad of things.  Their capability ranges from food for basic survival, determining danger, deciphering friend or foe of a human or animal, to detecting multiple types of drugs, money, bomb, accelerants, bed bugs, cancer, change in sugar level in diabetics, seizures, lost humans or pets, and of course, target odors, in the great sport of K9 Nose Work®.

Dogs evaluate their environment through its nose first.  Even before a dog can see something, he can smell it.  That scent is information to a dog, an encyclopedia if you will, which must then be processed.

So, you ask, how exactly does a dog’s nose work?  Dogs inhale through their nostrils and air is exhaled through the sides of its nose.  This amazing process keeps air (scent) that is inhaled from becoming weakened.  When a dog breathes in, air is separated and takes two paths.  “ We found that when airflow enters the nose it splits into two different flow paths, one for olfaction and one for respiration,” says Brent Craven, a bioengineer at Pennsylvania State University. Craven states that 12 percent of air inhaled flows to an area in the back of the nose that is dedicated to olfaction known as the Olfactory Bulb where 250-300 million sensory receptors are housed. A dog’s Olfactory Bulb is about 4 times larger than that of a human!  Olfactory receptors recognize molecules by their shape and send electrical signals to the brain for analysis.  The remaining inhaled air flows down through the pharynx to the lungs to be used for respiration.

When dogs breathe out, the exhaled air flows through the slits on the sides of their noses.  As the air is exhaled out, it creates a swirl which aides in ushering in new odors into a dog’s nose.

dog nose

Figure 1: When a dog breathes in, the air separates into distinct paths, one (red) flowing into the olfactory area and the other (blue) passing through the pharynx (black) to the lungs. Enlarge Photo credit: © Courtesy of Brent Craven

Recent research has shown dogs can detect odors in parts per trillion!  An analogy which illustrates this is described by Alexandra Horowitz, in her book, Inside of a Dog.   Alexandra Horowitz, a dog-cognition researcher at Barnard College, writes that while we might notice if our coffee has had a teaspoon of sugar added to it, a dog could detect a teaspoon of sugar in a million gallons of water, or two Olympic-sized pools worth.

There are of course multiple scenarios where a dog uses its nose, whether it is for survival or for fun (and yes, even the working dogs are having fun), one of which is the new and incredible activity and sport of K9 Nose Work®!

K9 Nose Work® is an activity whereby dogs use their incredible tool, their nose, and their natural ability to hunt, to search, and find food or their favorite toy.  They first search for food/toys in boxes and then, once their skills have increased, in various other environments.  Dogs build confidence, burn energy, learn focus and problem solving skills and most importantly, have fun doing it!

Any dog can do nose work regardless of breed, age, disability (blind, deaf, tripod), personality (shy, fearful, reactive, etc.) because it taps into and builds on the dog’s natural ability to use its nose!

K9 Nose Work® takes a dog at whatever level they are at and starts out by building on the dog’s natural hunting ability by learning to search boxes, “the hide”, one of which has treats/toys (the hide) in it.  After building the foundation of the game and increasing the drive, the game moves to adding obstacles, going outside and learning to use and trust its nose with their human in tow only to watch and learn how the dogs searches and to be right there to reward when the hide is found!  Bonus – treats/toys in the hide box and more rewards by that two-legged person who tags along!  Double bonus – no obedience required or allowed!

Each time the dog finds the hide box, the dog learns to trust it’s nose, which in turn, builds a lot of confidence as well as builds a  new and stronger bond with it’s human as they are a team in this great activity/game!

The game continues with dogs transitioning to searching for target odors (Birch, Anise and then Clove) doing container/box searches, interior searches, exterior searches and vehicle; some of whom may pursue their ultimate goal of competition, the sport side of K9 Nose Work®.

You may be saying to yourself, my dog is too old for this activity.  Two of my dogs, who had no search or tracking experience, started this amazing activity when they were 8 and 9 years old!  They now both compete and are 12 and 12 ½!  They both have earned their NW1 titles and Indy, my oldest, is working on his NW2.

Another question people ask is whether their dog’s nose works as well when they it gets older.  A dog’s sense of smell is the last sense to go.  Using the information above, let me share how Indy, my 12 ½ year old Collie/Shepherd/Golden takes in, processes and sources odor.

Following about a year working primary foundation with food, Indy moved to the first odor, Birch and now works both Birch and Anise.  When Indy is approaching a search area, you can see his nose working before he even takes a step into the search area.  His nose flares open, twitches, and he inhales the various smells around him collecting “data”.  The odor molecules flow through his olfactory system and the receptors in his Olfactory Bulb recall the Birch and/or Anise scent.  His head lifts and he is off due to repeated receipt of rewards at source for birth and/or Anise.  Depending on the search area, the wind and the hide placement, many dogs will be what we call “in odor” before they even start to search.  Indy is a very honest dog and searches until he hits what we call a scent cone.  This is a cone shaped area filled with odor wherein the dog works in various ways until he is at the source.

Once Indy has hit the cone of odor, his breathing changes, he sniffs a little louder and his pace slows down.  The odor molecules are filling his olfactory system and he is able to discriminate between Birch/Anise and other scents/odors such as plants, flowers, animal smells, environmental scents in the air, etc.  He continues to work the odor cone, bracketing the odor molecules and, once he is at source, he communicates to me, “This is it!”

K9 Nose Work® was founded by three people (Ron Gaunt, Amy Herot and Jill Marie O’Brien) with detection dog handling experience (among other training) who realized that not all dogs can be working dogs, but all dogs can use their nose and have fun!  Therefore they created an activity and sport for companion dogs to give them an outlet and a job using their natural scenting ability.  In 2009, the NACSW™ (National Association of Canine Scent Work) held its first nose work trials in California; by 2011, the word had spread and 43 trials where held in 9 different states throughout the U.S.  In 2012, there were 80 trials throughout the United States and in 2013 that number will be significantly more!

As Michigan’s First Certified K9 Nose Work® Instructor, I have been honored to host two Odor Recognition Tests (ORT’s) and, just recently, Michigan’s First K9 Nose Work® Trial in Charlotte, MI.  K9 Nose Work® is not only an amazing activity and sport, but a true testament to a dog’s most incredible mechanism, its nose!

To find out more about K9 Nose Work® go to www.k9nosework.com or visit my website at www.pawsitivek9obedience.com.

About the Author, Angie Falcsik, CNWI

Indy.Angie.NWRibbon1For over 10 years, Angie has been professionally dedicated to the training, rehabilitation, and rescue of dogs. This has been a lifetime love and passion and one of the goals of her professional career is to educate people regarding responsible dog ownership and the realities involved in being a responsible dog owner. Angie has worked with rescue groups, animal control agencies and shelters for many years and have offered expert advice and testimony in animal abuse and neglect cases.

Angie has been professionally training dogs and have been a Certified Obedience Trainer since 2002, is a Certified Nose Work Instructor through the National Association of Canine Scent Work (NACSW), and is an AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator.

Angie teaches group classes at AnnaBelle’s Pet Station in Downtown Lansing, Michigan.  Check out her current class schedule and sign up online today to reserve your spot or call 517.599.0995.

Learn About the Yellow Dog Project

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

YellowRibbon_1Have you heard about the Yellow Dog Project? The Yellow Dog Project was created to bring awareness to the general public about dogs who need space while training, recovering from surgery, or being rehabilitated. If you see a dog with a YELLOW RIBBON or something YELLOW on the leash, this is a dog who needs space! Please do not approach this dog with your dog. Please maintain distance or give this dog and his person time to move out of your away. Learn more about the Yellow Dog Project on Facebook and their Website!

AnnaBelle’s is offering special yellow ribbons with wire inside, so they can easily be wrapped on a leash and are easily moved and adjusted. They are approximately 18 inches long so they are highly visible on your leash. They are $3 each or two for $5. Buy yours online today!

yellow dog

NEW! Doga with Belinda Thurston of Just B Yoga!

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Riley-doga-211x300AnnaBelle’s is excited to add Doga to our class schedule and we are even more excited to have Belinda Thurston of Just B Yoga teaching it! Belinda is a 200 RYT yoga instructor and owner of Just B Yoga, Lansing’s only donation-based studio. She is passionate about making yoga accessible to as many people and body types as possible – including dogs. She was certified in Doga in 2011.

Belinda owned a dog all of her life until her mixed-breed dog, Missy passed away in 2005 at the age of 16. She understands that the connection between owner and dog is a deep and unique bond. Yoga means to create a connection or union. Owners will so often do more for their pets than themselves. Doga is an excellent way to get both owner and dog moving and communicating on an energetic and spiritual level.

This coming term, Belinda is offering Doga classes for three dog size groups, petite, mid-sized, and big. We hope to offer additional Doga classes for senior dogs and extra-large canines soon! Class size is limited – sign up today!

Holiday Nose Work Fun!

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Download flier: holiday nose work fun

Sign up online:

Holiday Pups on Odor (12-2:30pm): http://doodle.com/ypn7h43gizrwy4rz
Holiday Newbies on Food (3-4pm): http://doodle.com/k9pxckki5dmxymai
Celebrating Pups on Food (4-5pm): http://doodle.com/uuaist2erded7hhc
Celebrating Pups on Food (5-5:30pm): http://doodle.com/d82qidzwurceik99