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Fourth of July Fireworks Pet Precautions

June 29th, 2012

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

With Michigan’s new “legal” fireworks law, this weekend, next week and next weekend could be quite stressful for our pets.  Plan now to take precautions to make this holiday a happy time instead of a tragic one!! Remember, this is the #1 time of year when pet go missing…Don’t let it be yours.

1. Make sure your pet is wearing their collar with ID tags.

2. Bring your pets in at dusk BEFORE most fireworks take place.

3. Secure them in a covered kennel, to muffle sound or in a room away from windows or cover windows with extra blankets to muffle the sound.

4. Keep a light on so that any “flashes” outside are less noticeable.

5. Play soothing music, or leave a TV on loud enough to cover up outside noises.

6. Give your dog a favorite chew, bone or kong to chew on to relieve stress and occupy them.

7. Arm yourself with the many anti-anxiety tools available.  Thundershirts, calming phermone, herbs and essential oils have all shown to help calm anxiety.

8. If your dog still gets very anxious and starts whining, pacing, barking or howling or acting out in any way, DO NOT comfort them! Stay calm, don’t react to the booms, don’t talk to your dog, don’t look at them and don’t touch them.  This only reinforces the nervous behavior.  You can be in the same room, but CANNOT give any attention. If you’re too much of a softy, don’t stay in the room. Make sure your dog is safe and secure and get out. Get your own ear plugs to lower your own distress.
If your dog stays calm, give calm verbal reinforcement ….”good boy/girl”. You can even give special yummy treat if you know your dog heard something, but did not react.  This teaches them that staying calm in the presence of scary noises earns them rewards. And over time the scary noises become much less scary.

9. Gradually desensitize your dog to the sounds of storms and fireworks during NON-firework times. Get a CD with firework and/or storm sounds  and play it at a very low level…a level that elicits NO reaction from you dog. Reward for staying calm with treats or attention. Then gradually, VERY gradually increase the volume to levels where your dog can stay calm.

10. Talk to your neighbors TODAY and let them know you have an anxious animal. Most people will take this in to consideration when using their fireworks.

Have fun and be safe!

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. She also works at AnnaBelle’s Day Care Depot and is a doggie play time expert!

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® classes (Therapy Dog International) 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!

The Vet’s Perspective with Dr. Joyce: Flea Control

June 21st, 2012

Author: Joyce Heideman, DVM

It’s that time of year again when the weather is warm and humid, and the fleas are making our pets miserable. It has been said that with the past year’s weather conditions, this year will be pretty bad with the flea, tick and mosquito problem. To help you get control over this problem (and maybe even prevent it) here are a few facts and tips regarding flea control.

Flea Basics:

Fleas are tiny brown insects that live on mammals and suck blood from their tissues. They are most common external parasite of companion animals, and carry many diseases including tapeworms. Flea allergy dermatitis is the most common skin problem in pets, and fleas can make even non-allergic pets uncomfortable. However, just because your pet is not itching doesn’t mean it does not have fleas. If one pet in the household has fleas, they all have fleas. Some are just more sensitive to flea bites than others.

Fleas can infest squirrels, rabbits, mice and rats, and these hosts can be a source of fleas for our pets. Pets do not need to go outside to get fleas. We can transport fleas inside on our clothing, they can jump through open doors, and they can be brought in by mice or rodents.

Once in the house, fleas seek out our pets. They prefer pets to people, but will jump on and bite people if there are no pets present or if there is a very heavy infestation.

Just because you don’t see fleas doesn’t mean they are not there. It is unusual to be able to see fleas in a mild to moderate infestation. They burrow and run fast, and many pets groom them off and swallow them.

Female fleas lay a tremendous number of eggs which fall into the environment and hatch when conditions are right. This can be as short as 16 days or as long as 90 days. The pupated flea can be dormant in the yard over the winter and re-emerge when the weather warms. Fleas are at their worse during warm humid months, typically May to October in Michigan.

Lifecycle of the Flea:

Eggs are laid in the hair coat and are designed to fall off the host. They are resistant to insecticides, but susceptible to various insect growth regulators. Larvae develop in the host’s environment and feed on adult flea feces (blood) that fall out of the hair coat of the pet. Larvae are susceptible to traditional insecticides, borates and insect growth regulators. Larvae eventually spin cocoons (often within carpet fibers) for pupation. Pupae are resistant to freezing, desiccation, and insecticides. Pupae can lie dormant for many months; they are stimulated to ex-pupate as emergent adults by vibration, warming and increased carbon dioxide. Normally, ex-pupation occurs when a host is near and the new flea finds the pet within seconds of emergence. Emergent fleas are fairly mobile and can survive a few days without a host, if in a suitable environment. New fleas begin feeding within hours of finding a dog or cat. Once a blood meal has been taken, the flea can survive only a short time if it is dislodged from the host. New fleas experience very high mortality on healthy adult hosts. Most fleas do not survive 72 hours on an animal that is itching and able to groom itself

Flea control basics:

Effective flea control aims at breaking the flea lifecycle on the pet. This is done by using products that interfere with the flea’s reproduction, or growth of the juvenile forms. Many new products combine this ability with the ability to kill the adults as well. Products that just kill the adults like many over the counter sprays or collars are very ineffective.

Insecticides that have been around for a long time, are more likely to have some resistance with them. Over time, fleas have been exposed to pyrethrins so often, that they often no longer work. Newer products or non-insecticidal products are less likely to have resistance problems.

Most over the counter products are insecticides and many can have toxicity problems. Insecticides like permethrins are very toxic to cats and toxicity has been reported just from contact with a treated dog in the house. Make sure you read the label well and use the product properly if using over the counter insecticides.

Monthly applied flea control, that kills the adult and breaks the lifecycle, should be used monthly for at least 3 months to overcome an infestation. After that, products that simply break the lifecycle can often be used as a preventative. Remember that products that just break the lifecycle like Sentinel, do not kill adult fleas, and you may see fleas on your pet, but they will not lay viable eggs, and will die or be groomed off typically by 72 hours.

Helpful tips for picking the right flea control:

  1. Stay away from powders, sprays and shampoo that only kill the adult and don’t last very long (24-48 hours)
  2. Basic flea collars, like those made by Hartz or Sergeants are very ineffective and concentrate insecticide around the pet’s neck.
  3. Products that you get from your veterinarian usually are really better because they are made with safer and more effective ingredients, the company usually stands behind veterinary products, and you are getting the expertise of your veterinarian.
  4. Many fleas are resistant to over the counter products containing permethrins and pyrethrins. Check the ingredients list before you buy. There are some safe and effective over-the-counter products out there, particularly the ones that contain “fipronyl” found in “Front line”.
  5. Now-a-days, many flea products come combined with tick, heartworm and even intestinal parasite control. Be sure your pet has been heartworm tested before using combination products that prevent heartworms.
  6. Make sure you are using the right type and dose of medication for your pet. Never use a dog only product on a cat and vice versa.
  7. If you have an infestation problem, you will need to use a monthly product for at least 3 months to get the problem under control.
  8. If your pet swims or is groomed often, you may want to stay away from the topical insecticidal products. Even if they say they are water proof, swimming and bathing has been shown to decrease some of the efficacy.
  9. If your pet has been diagnosed with a food allergy, you will want to stay away from flavored oral pills.
  10. If you have any questions or concerns about flea control products, discuss them with your veterinarian.

About the Author: Dr. Joyce A Heideman is a graduate of the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine and has been a practicing veterinarian in the Lansing area for over 25 years. She is dedicated to the health and welfare of companion animals and is regularly donates her time to animal welfare and rescue efforts.

Southside Animal Hospital
5134 S ML King Jr Blvd
Lansing, Michigan 48911
517.882.6614

Effective Treatment for the Reactive Dog – BAT

June 5th, 2012

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

As a professional dog trainer, one of the most common problems I’m asked to address is the leash-reactive dog. You’ve all seen what I’m talking about, the dog that barks or lunges at other dogs, people or any number of other triggers.

First, I’d like to explain why I think dogs become leash-reactive. Dogs, like most animals, have a fight or flight reaction to something that is scary. When a dog is off-leash, he is free to completely avoid something that is scary, or examine something that he is curious about and then flee if necessary.

There are also those dogs, like my dog, Arrow, who are reactive due to excitability. These dogs are not frightened or fearful of strange dogs and people; they are excited by them and wish to greet them immediately, because they love them so much. This problem can be just as disturbing to a pet parent, with a larger or in my case, very loud dog, and this problem can be just as difficult to train away.

When dogs are “on leash” they are not free to explore or greet in a natural manner. They are held back and restricted, creating an unnatural, vulnerable state.  And then there are the leash corrections they get for attempting to greet in a normal doggie fashion. Those leash corrections can create additional anxiety or fear about greeting dogs and all manner of behavior problems with other dogs.

So what’s a concerned pet parent to do? The answer is BAT training. BAT stands for Behavior Adjustment Training. BAT is a technique of training that teaches your dog an alternative behavior (and eventually a different emotional response) to a trigger.

It works by teaching the dog to control his own comfort level. In human psychology, it’s called “functional analysis.” BAT uses functional reward (moving away from the source of stress) plus a food or toy reward, combined with clicker training and desensitization, to help dogs make better choices and stay calm using a process that is correction-free.

At first, complete avoidance is required and rewarded. Then gradually, to be rewarded, the dog will just need to give avoidance/calming behaviors like “turn away,” “look away,” or ground sniffing when confronted with triggers. All of these behaviors induce calmness in our dogs. And when rewarded for calmness enough, it becomes the chosen alternate response to previously reactive triggers. The one crucial element is that the dog MUST remain below his reactive threshold at all times. This means you must keep enough distance between your dog and his trigger so that your dog can be calm, pay attention to his handler, and follow simple basic commands. At first, this distance may be quite a far, but with practice and patience, the distance will get smaller and smaller.

This method works great, and over time, truly rehabilitates reactive dogs.  If you have a reactive dog and need help, please visit www.coolcitydogs.com and check out clicker classes by Arrow Dog Training or email dawnpizzo@yahoo.com for information on private in-home training.

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.  Sign up online or call 517.599.0995.

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 therapy dog classes. Dawn’s group classes are taught at AnnaBelle’s on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Click here to see her complete class schedule!

Awareness and Attention

April 29th, 2012

Before any type of training can take place, the trainer must at have at least some of the dog’s attention focused on him or her.  Most dog owners would agree that it’s pointless to issue a command to a dog who’s totally engrossed in something else.  Before a response can be expected, the owner must gain the dog’s attention.  And, in order for the owner to have full control in all situations, the dog must be at least aware of the owner at all times; aware of where the owner is, as well as being ready to respond to any command the owner may wish to give.

If, when your dog is on a leash, there is tension in the leash, your dog can feel exactly where you are, and has no reason to pay attention to you, either visually or mentally. You become simply something to pull against and away from, not much more than an irritation.

If, however, you taught your dog that he may not pull or even reach the end of the leash without consequence, he would have to start watching you when on leash so that he could avoid causing tension in the leash. In short, your dog would have to pay attention to you. Once you achieve that, wonderful things begin to happen, and you will also be able to start structured training.

Read more from Carol about the style of training that fits you best:  Loose Leash Walking: No Pulling, No Fooling, and Carol’s Corner: Is Corrective Training Necessary to Train Effectively?

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 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.

No part of this article may be reproduced in any any whatsoever
without written permission from the Canine Training Center

Socialization: More Than Just Puppy Play

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!

Positive Puppy Potential: Training That Clicks!

March 7th, 2012

Dawn Archer Pizzoferrato, ABCDT of Arrow Dog Training presents this 4 week course will cover the basics to get you started on a trusting, respectful and fulfilling relationship with your new puppy. Each class will include teaching a new basic obedience behavior, like “sit”, “down,” “don’t pull” and “come” with the scientifically proven training method of Clicker Training.

Each class will also include “Puppy Do’s and Don’ts” to answer your specific questions, problems and concerns.  And of course, each week your puppy will get to PLAY and socialize. And you, as a “Puppy Parent” will learn what to look for in puppy play, what’s appropriate, what’s not, when to step in and when to let it roll.

For puppies 8-20 weeks. All puppies must be current with vaccinations appropriate for their age. Bring lots of YOUR puppy’s favorite soft treats. Class size is limited. Drop in also available for $20 per class. Sign up on line or call 517.599.0995. 4 week class is only $75! 6-7 pm Fridays, 3/16-4/6 or 4/20-5/11.

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® classes (Therapy Dog International) 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!

Dawn has written several articles that you will find helpful in training and developing a positive relationship with your dog based on trust and respect:

Be Prepared! Make a Pet First Aid Kit

January 22nd, 2012

Let’s face it, our pets are part of our families. Being prepared can mean saving a life. According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), 1 out of 4 pets would survive an emergency if just one pet first aid technique was applied before getting emergency veterinary care. That pet could be your furry family member. Being prepared is the best way to ensure your pet’s survival in an emergency situation and a pet first aid kit is one of the first steps you can take.

There are many pre-made kits that you can purchase, but building your own kit allows you to customize for your pet’s lifestyle and needs. Here is a list of some items that are necessities for your pet first aid kit.

READ MORE!

Building a First Aid Kit Isn’t Enough!

Purchasing or building a kit is a great first step, but won’t be a lot of help in the event of an emergency if you are not familiar with how and when to use the items. I would highly recommend my Pet Saver Pet First Aid Course. Our course consists of both lecture and handson skills practice. Our full 8-hour course will prepare you for the following: Primary Pet Assessment, CPR, Rescue Breathing, Muzzling & Restraining, Choking Management, Assessing Vitals, Seizures, Shock, Bleeding Protocols, Poisoning, Fractures, Bites & Stings, Cold and Heat injuries, and Snout to Tail Assessment in injury and in wellness! For more information or to register, click on the link here: Pet Saver Pet First Aid Course.


About the Author
Sheila Laing is a certified Pet Tech, Pet First Aid Instructor, a Nationally Certified Massage Therapist, a member of the Board of Directors for H.E.A.R.T. (Helping Eaton Animal Resource Team) and is currently completing her program in canine massage therapy. Sheila offers PetSaver™ Pet First classes at AnnaBelle’s Pet Station in Downtown Lansing, MI.

What Happens To Animals When You Die?

November 17th, 2011

Turner!

Working in animal rescue, you come across more than your fair share of heart-wrenching stories and animals who have survived terrible conditions and yet still want nothing more than to be loved by everyone. When Voiceless-MI pulled Turner and his partner in crime Hooch from the animal shelter, the volunteers discovered that Turner had some health concerns and had to undergo surgery. Even with all the changes, this little guy’s spirit just could not be shaken.

It turns out that Turner and Hooch were brought into the shelter because their owners had passed away. I had a hard time imagining that the extended family of Turner and Hooch’s owners could decline the sweet faces of those dogs who had just lost their owners. But sometimes people simply do not have the ability to take in two dogs unexpectedly. So, without any other plans in place they were forced to take Turner and Hooch to the local animal shelter. Turner, with his adorable “smile” and spunky attitude, then became the Fido’s Future spokes-dog–a project started as a way to educate pet owners about actions they can take to plan for their pet’s future when faced with unfortunate events like unexpected owner hospitalization or even death.  Turner may have lost his family, been in a shelter and gone through surgery, but he has a second chance and he couldn’t be happier.

Willoughby When He Was Found

Shortly after we started Fido’s Future, we heard another story from a Good Samaritan about a dog found wandering alongside the road. The dog, named Willoughby, was placed in the same foster home where Turner and Hooch were living. Willoughby was dirty and his fur was matted and it was very clear that he had been wandering for quite a while on his own. Voiceless-MI took Willoughby to the veterinarian to be examined and they found that he had a micro-chip implanted. Everyone was excited to find Willoughby’s owners and return him to his home.

Willoughby After Some Pampering

Even though Willoughby’s owner had originally lived only a few towns over, he had died EIGHT months before the dog was found wandering in the road. The Voiceless-MI volunteers attempted to find out where Willoughby had been for those eight months, but their best guess was that he had been wandering around on his own during that time. Willoughby’s constant desire for attention, or even to just be touching a human, reinforced their fear that he had been alone for that entire eight months. Willoughby got a bath, his hair trimmed and eventually found a new forever home, as did Turner.

But not all pets get that lucky.

An estimated 400,000 pets per year must be re-homed because their owners pass away. Around 150,000 of those animals end up in local shelters after their owners pass away. For older pets, ending up in a shelter can be traumatic and they are often passed over for adoption by people seeking kittens and puppies. And the sad truth is that for many older pets, being brought to an animal shelter is likely a death sentence.

Most people would realize that an injured person has children at home that needs care, but not everyone thinks about whether the injured person has pets that are alone. We want to help pet owners think about these scenarios and put plans in place to protect their pets. We want to help keep dogs like Turner from ending up in an animal shelter when it can be avoided with a little planning.

Just In!

Hooch is mentioned as Turner’s partner in crime. They had the same owner and were pulled from the shelter together. When Hooch was brought into the rescue some x-rays showed a large mass in his abdomen and we were told that he would not survive much longer. His foster mom was amazing enough to offer him a place to live out his days. After a few months, Turner was adopted and Hooch did not seem to be getting any worse so they took him back to the vet. They did new x-rays and the mass was gone. The vet said it may have been a shadow or gas, but that he was healthy. But now he is looking for a home without Turner, and he is having a problem finding a forever home because he is a bit older. If you know someone who can adopt Hooch, please contact us.



About the Author

Guest writer Becki is a recent law school graduate who rescues animals in her free time. She is heading up Fido’s Future and hopes that if you are an animal lover you will show support by following the project on Facebook.

Training That Clicks!

November 12th, 2011

From: Natural Awakenings Lansing Mid-Michigan November, 2011 Edition

Dawn Pizzoferrato, owner of Arrow Dog Training, offers clicker training classes for dogs of all breeds and sizes in groups on Wednesday evenings at AnnaBelle’s Pet Station and privately through in-home training. Certified as a dog trainer through the Animal Behavior College, she says, “My focus has always been on pet dogs and creating a positive home environment with their human parents so that it will become their ‘forever’ home.”

Pizzoferrato views dog training as an ongoing process and stresses the importance of educating dog owners on effective training techniques, such as the clicker method. She explains, “Dogs are natural pleasers, and they will try to fulfill their owner’s requests. The clicker allows the owner to let the dog know what those requests are, and the food reward provides the pay-off which entices repeat behavior.”

As benefits of the clicker method, Pizzoferrato shares that as both a training tool and a communication device, the clicker works better than verbal cues due to its consistency in tone and volume. She cites the speed at which the method works as one major benefit, adding, “I feel the biggest advantage to the clicker training method is the bond it creates between owner and dog. Clicker training is a mutual learning experience. While the owner is trying to get behaviors from the dog, the dog is also trying to get the owner to click.” This lends itself to endless training possibilities.

Location: Group classes, 600 S. Capitol Ave., Lansing. To register or for more information, call 517-599-0995 or visit CoolCityDogs.com. For information about private training, call 517-449-9968, email DawnPizzo@yahoo.com.

Reprinted with permission. To learn more about Dawn, and sign up for her clicker training and K9 Nose Work® classes at AnnaBelle’s, please visit her webpage!

 

Your Dog Nose Fun! SEEKING: the Master Emotion

December 23rd, 2010

Author: Dawn Archer Pizzoferrato, ABCDT; owner of Arrow Dog Training – Get Your Dog on Target! and clicker trainer and Nose Work Instructor at AnnaBelle’s Pet Station.

seek |sēk|

verb (past sought |sôt|) [trans.]

attempt to find (something): they came here to seek shelter from biting winter winds.

• attempt or desire to obtain or achieve (something): the new regime sought his extradition | [intrans.] her parents had never sought to interfere with her freedom.

• ask for (something) from someone: he sought help from the police.

• (seek someone/something out) search for and find someone or something: it’s his job to seek out new customers.

This is what most of us think of when we here the word “seek.”  But what many of us don’t know is that SEEKING is a basic animal emotion that drives much of the behaviors we see in our dogs.

In her book, Animals Make Us Human, Creating The Best Life For Animals, Temple Grandin discusses the work of one of her mentors, Dr. Jaak Panksepp, a neuroscientist at Washington State University.  Dr. Panksepp wrote the book, Affective Neuroscience, where he identifies and names the core emotional systems of the animal and human brain.  He called these systems the “blue-ribbon emotions,” finding that well-organized behavior sequences can be generated with electrical stimulation of localized areas of the brain. So, when you stimulate the “fear” system, you get a snarling, biting animal and when you stimulate the SEEKING system of the brain, you get a animal that starts moving forward, exploring and sniffing its environment.

These core “blue-ribbon emotions” are SEEKING, FEAR, PANIC, LUST, CARE, and PLAY.  Some of these are well known, but SEEKING is probably new to most of us.

So what exactly is SEEKING?  Dr. Panksepp defines SEEKING as “the basic impulse to search, investigate, and make sense of the environment.”  It’s a combination of things we usually think of as different concepts: “wanting” something good, “looking forward” to something good, and curiosity. Both Dr. Panksepp and Temple Grandin speculate that SEEKING may be a type of “master emotion.” SEEKING is about looking forward to something good, not having something good. This system is probably to blame for most of the marital infidelity in us humans, but it’s about survival in our dogs.

So, now think about your dog.  Is this SEEKING “emotional system” strong in your dog?  I would dare to guess that it is.  Would you like to give your dog a safe outlet to practice and fulfill this emotional system?  If so, there’s a new dog sport sweeping the nation that centers on your dog’s natural scenting ability and desire to SEEK good things like food or toys.

The training for this sport is simple and immediately rewarding.  With “Box Games,” your dog is allowed enter a secured area with no other dogs and encouraged to SEEK, explore, and search for their favorite treat, toy or ball among mostly empty cardboard boxes.   As handler, you take the back seat, only intervening to keep your dog in the designated area, while your dog does what it does best … use its nose to find food.  Trainer/Helpers will work to keep your dog interested and help them learn to rely on their noses instead of their human “tool.”  All interactions are positive and non-threatening.  And your dog will come away happy, satisfied, and often tired.

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!

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