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Posts Tagged ‘Arrow Dog Training’

Your Dog Nose Fun! SEEKING: the Master Emotion

Thursday, 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!

Follow Dawn on Twitter!Find out what’s going on in Dawn’s clicker and Nose Work classes.

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Why Clicker Training?

Monday, August 24th, 2009

Author: Dawn Archer Pizzoferrato, ABCDT owns Arrow Dog Training and offers dog training classes at AnnaBelle’s Pet Station.

Usually the first question I am asked when tell people I offer clicker training is, “what is clicker training?” The answer to that is simple…It’s a dog training method using a clicker to mark the desired behavior.  That usually satisfies most askers, but the question most people have next is, “Why?”

Now THAT is a great question. Why clicker training? As with any training technique, clicker training has its proponents and opponents. Many trainers just don’t see the benefits of an additional tool to deal with, some trainers prefer a non-treat based reward and don’t like the clicker/treat connection, and some just don’t like positive reinforcement training. Whatever the reason for opposing clicker training, there is only one answer to “why” I favor the clicker training method…It works.

Karen Pryor, the godmother of clicker training in the United States, in her article, The Neurophysiology of Clicker Training, which covers research on stimuli and the limbic system of the animal brain, writes:

“… another contributing factor to the extraordinary rapidity with which the clicker and clicked behavior can be acquired might be that the click is processed by the CNS (central nervous system) much faster than any word can be. Even in the most highly-trained animal or verbal person, the word must be recognized, and interpreted, before it can ‘work,’ and the effect of the word may be confounded by accompanying emotional signals, speaker identification clues, and other such built-in information.”

clicker2So, in other words, this means that the clicker sound needs no interpretation. Once the dog learns that a treat follows a click and learns that to get a click he needs to do a requested behavior, he’s got it! You, however, still need to get the dog to DO the behavior. But if the dog is clicker trained, once he does the desired behavior and gets the click, he knows what you want from him and he will repeat it as often as you want. Clicker training is fastest way I have found to teach a dog a new behavior. And the more you use the clicker on new behaviors, the better and faster the dog will learn them. It has a positive cascading effect.

The other main reason that I use clicker training is because it’s fun. Dogs love the “game” of it. They seem to be less tired from training and show a stronger willingness to learn. It works wonderfully for shy or fearful dogs, because it gives them confidence.

In my view, the only downfall to successfully clicker training a dog is teaching the handler correct clicker timing. It can be tricky. In your hands, you have the clicker, the leash, the treat, AND you’re luring the dog AND you have click at the precise moment that your dog does the desired behavior. WHEW! That can be hard.  But like any new skill, practice makes perfect…just ask your dog! The timing of your click is extremely important because if you click too early, your dog hasn’t completed the behavior; if you click too late, then he’s on to something else. I often recommend practicing clicker timing separately from training with your dog just for this reason.

So, if you want to make training and learning fun for your dog, if you want to teach new behaviors quickly with better retention, or you simply want to learn a new training technique yourself, clicker training is definitely for you. Come join us at Annabelle’s Pet Station. Class size is limited. Six week class is only $109. Sign up today!

Learn More About Dawn  and 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!

The All Important Dog Walk!

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

Author: Dawn Archer Pizzoferrato, ABCDT, owner of Arrow Dog Training.

Most dog owners know that their dogs need exercise. But most don’t know how important this need is to the relationship between dog and owner and many dog owners don’t know how much and even more importantly what kind of exercise their dog needs.

There are all sorts of fallacies regarding exercise: Small dogs need less exercise and large dogs need more. If you have a large yard where your dog can run free, he will get enough exercise. If you play fetch with your dog for a few minutes each day your dog is getting plenty of exercise. Well, these are all false. There are many small breed dogs (Terriers come to mind) that need much more exercise than large breed dogs (Great Danes also come to mind). And in my opinion, a romp in the back yard after you come home from work with a few minutes of fetch is simply not enough exercise for most adult dogs.

Dogs need to walk. That’s what they do. Yes, they are great runners and absolutely love it, but walking (or a trot) is their natural pace for getting around in the world. So as the “Pack Leader” it is our responsibility to walk with our dogs. Did you notice I wrote, “walk with our dogs”? That’s because that is really how it should be. Your dog shouldn’t be pulling on you and you shouldn’t have to be pulling on your dog. It should be a calm, stress-free, relaxing yet focused time for both of you. When a group (pack) of dogs walk together they are bonding. They establishing and strengthening their roles in the pack.

So how do you make that happen? Well, first let’s discuss WHEN to walk your dog. It is my belief that dogs should be walked BEFORE being fed. I don’t think it matters whether it is in the morning or evening.  It just needs to be before they are fed. Why, Do you ask? I have two reasons. One-it is the natural order of things for dogs. A dog wakes up in the morning, goes for a walk “looking” for food, eats, then naps. Walking is how a dog “works” for it’s food. We all must work for our food, and so should your dog. No free-rides allowed. Two-If you have a dog prone to Bloat (the deadly problem when the stomach fills with air and can possibly twist), it’s important that your dog does not exercise after eating.

So you’re ready to walk, now is the time to start acting like a leader. It is important that you initiate the walk. If your dog is begging you to go walk and you do, who is the leader? Your dog is. Just wait (taking away your attention) until your dog is calm and make the walk a reward for it’s calm behavior. Now make your dog “sit” and be calm while you put on the leash. If your dog can’t sit still, put the leash down and walk away. When your dog is calmer, have her “sit”, then try again. This may take awhile the first time, so give yourself plenty of time so you can be patient. Pack Leaders do not lose their patience.

This might be a good time to talk about equipment. If your dog is capable of walking on a “loose” leash, all you need is a flat buckle collar and a regular 6-foot nylon or leather leash. I am not a fan of “Flexi leads”, choke chains or prong collars. If your dog is a puller or a lunger, a head collar or anti-pull halter (Halti, ControlEase, Gentle Leader or Canny Collar) is usually an instant fix. They provide a natural deterrent to pulling by making the head (or chest in the case of the halter) pull BACK when the dog is pulling forward. It is wonderful and preferable that your dog learns to walk on loose leash with just a flat collar. But it is perfectly acceptable to use and always use a head collar or anti-pull halter. It is important to know that a regular halter will actually PROMOTE pulling in dog that tends to pull. This is called “oppositional reflex” which causes them to pull against anything that’s pulling against them.

Donned with all the right equipment, you are now ready to proceed on your walk. But first you have to get out the door. Your dog should sit and WAIT for you to open the door. Allowing your dog to bolt out an open door again tells your dog that he is the leader. So ask your dog to “sit” then start to open the door. If your dog moves out of the “sit,” close the door, ask for a “sit” again then start to open the door again. You need to keep doing this until you can open the door all the way without your dog moving. Now go through the door AHEAD of your dog. From now on you will exit or enter a door AHEAD of your dog. Okay, now walk!

Are you walking beside your dog, “with your dog”? Or is your dog walking ahead of you, sniffing the ground, stopping to pee on every tree? If the former is true, just keep going; don’t stop for at least 2-3 blocks. If you sense your dog needs to relieve itself, YOU decide where and when. When your dog is done, start up again and walk. If you have a working dog, get a backpack and have him carry a couple bottles of water.  When you have a breed that was bread to work, you MUST fulfill that need in them. I have 3-4 different routes I take around my neighborhood and I alternate between them. This way my dogs have a slightly varied route everyday with different smells, sights and sounds. This helps keep them engaged while walking. Their brains will be working as much as their brawn.

If your dog pulls out ahead of you, stopping to sniff every tree, a quick collar correction before your dog gets to end of the leash is quite appropriate. But it must happen before there is any tension on the leash, be quick and strong enough to get your dog to IMMEDIATELY turn back to you and then you must immediately create slack in the leash again. If your dog is wearing a head collar or anti-pull harness, stop in place until your dog moves back towards you and takes the tension off the leash before proceeding forward. If pulling continues, stop, say “EH, EH” and change direction. Do this as often as necessary to stop any pulling. Same thing goes for a dog lagging behind, don’t wait for him, keep going and encourage with voice for them to catch up. Talk to your dog when he is doing a good job and keep your pace up. Your dog is more likely to keep up with you and to be less interested in extrinsic distractions if you are walking at a fun pace for your dog. Keeping up this pace will help keep your dog focused. When you have the perfect walk, you’ll know it.  You’re relaxed, you’re holding the leash gently, and there is plenty of slack on the leash. You are aware of your dog, but not focused on him. Your dog is aware of you, but also not focused on you. You each check in once in while, but you keep moving ahead.

Every walk, even for the smallest dog should last at least 20 minutes. If you have a larger or more energetic dog, they may need as much as an hour, twice a day. Your dog should have a good pant going on when you return home — where you enter through the door ahead of your dog.

Remember, your walk with your dog is your greatest opportunity to establish your leadership and to bond with your dog. It’s when you can live in the NOW with your best friend, and free yourself from all the junk you have to deal with the rest of your day. It’s one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself and your dog!

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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