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Archive for the ‘Puppies’ 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 with “Carol’s Corner” in the subject line or use the “Contact Us” form.


Socialization: More Than Just Puppy Play

Friday, March 16th, 2012

By: Dawn Archer Pizzoferrato, ABCDT, owner of Arrow Dog Training

When most people think about “puppy socialization,” they generally envision a group of puppies playing joyfully with one another. While this is an important aspect of socialization, it’s not the complete picture.

Between the ages of three and 14 weeks, puppies are the most open to new experiences such as different types of people, new environments, buildings, sights, noises, smells, animals, and other dogs. These are all the things that a pet dog will encounter and needs to be comfortable with in human society; thus, this is all part of being “socialized.” The more things a puppy is introduced to within this age period, the more calm and confident he will be in a variety of circumstances. After this period, puppies naturally become more wary of things they have not yet encountered.

Importantly, the “Fear-Impact Period” also occurs during this very same critical socialization time. If puppies have “bad” or scary experiences during this time, the impressions are likely to last a lifetime and may resurface during maturity. So, while you need to get your puppy “out there” and experience life, you still need to introduce him to new things in a controlled, calm, positive manner. This is one of the most important reasons why only POSITIVE training with NO PUNISHMENT should be done with puppies. And, if your puppy seems nervous or afraid of ANYTHING, for any reason, whether it’s dangerous or not, you should step in and calmly remove him from the situation. If this should happen, it’s important to re-introduce your puppy to the scary situation much more gradually, and to make a big effort to do something your puppy loves during the situation or immediately afterward.

Training and socialization go hand and hand. When a puppy has learned basic obedience using positive reinforcement, it’s something you can always turn to during times of insecurity or anxiety. Doing something your puppy does well and can be successful at like “sit,” “down” or “touch” will distract them from whatever triggered the fear and will give your puppy renewed confidence to try again.

Of course, puppy socialization is also about play! Play and play-fighting with other puppies or even trusted adult dogs is crucial for a puppy to learn to be gentle with their mouthing and to learn bite inhibition as well as learning to interpret dog signals and body language. But this too must be supervised by puppy parents, who need to understand when to intervene in puppy play. If any of the play-time participants get too rough or assertive, it’s time to step in. If one participant is trying to escape for whatever reason, it’s time to step in.  If your puppy becomes frightened, step in; do some fun, easy activities in the same environment so that you turn what was once scary into a positive experience before leaving that environment. A word of caution: public, off-leash dog parks are NOT the best environments for puppy play and socialization. With so many dogs under very little control, a fun romp can quickly turn into a disastrous event for all involved.  Keeping your puppy on the outside of a fenced dog park where he can observe the action while doing basic obedience work is a much better option until your puppy is well past the “Fear-Impact Period.”

I know from first-hand experience the importance of puppy socialization and training. When I was 12 years old, I was given the daunting task of training and socializing a puppy through my 4H club to become a Leader Dog for The Blind®. While it was important that my puppy learn basic obedience, the consistent socialization was the most crucial aspect of this process. We went everywhere together. We hiked in the woods and walked busy city streets. My puppy went in the car as well as my dad’s single engine airplane. We attended large family gatherings and shopped at the local department stores. We went up and down long open stairways and pedestrian over passes over busy streets. And, I guess I must have done a few things right because my “Ben” was accepted by Leader Dog for The Blind® and eventually became a Leader Dog.  While I’ve been training dogs for a long time now, this is still one of my proudest accomplishments.

So get out there and start socializing your puppy! Take your puppy with you to your favorite pet store, out in the woods, walking along busy city streets, and to your neighborhood children’s play ground.  Let him meet your friends and your friend’s friends. And most importantly, find a good puppy class that includes basic obedience along with supervised puppy play!

Learn More About Dawn & How to 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, 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 classes, TDI® (Therapy Dog International) classes and in-home private training. Dawn’s group classes are taught at AnnaBelle’s on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Click here to see her complete class schedule!