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Posts Tagged ‘Carol Hein-Creger’

AKC Competitive Obedience – No Pedigree Required!

Friday, December 18th, 2009

Consider taking obedience training with your dog to a whole new level. Enter the world of AKC obedience and help your dog realize its full potential by competing in obedience trials and earning obedience competition titles. AKC obedience trials demonstrate the usefulness of the dog as a companion to man. Obedience trials showcase dogs that have been trained and conditioned to behave well in the home, in public places, and in the presence of other dogs. AKC trials and tests allow exhibitors and their dogs to enjoy companionship and competition as they proudly earn AKC titles.

To be eligible to compete in AKC Obedience trials, a dog must be (1) Registered with the AKC; (2) Enrolled in the PAL (Purebred Alternative Listing)/ ILP program (a program for purebred dogs that cannot be fully registered with the AKC to participate in AKC events); (3) Be a member of a Foundation Stock Service® (FSS) recorded breed that meets the eligibility requirements for competition; or (4) Enrolled in the AKC Canine Partners program (A program for mixed-breed dogs to participate in Obedience).

537392769_KCgZm-M-1What is competitive Obedience? Demonstrating the usefulness of a dog as a companion to humankind, AKC Obedience is a sport with rules, regulations, judges, conditioning, training, placements and prizes. Dog and handler teams are judged on how closely they match the judge’s mental picture of a theoretically perfect performance as they execute a series of specified exercises. Accuracy and precision are essential, but the natural movement of the handler and the willingness and enjoyment of the dog are very important. Each level of obedience competition – novice, open, and utility – requires mastering a specific skill set, which increase in difficulty, before advancing to the next level.

The Novice Class demonstrates good canine companion skills such as heeling, both with and without a leash, coming when called, standing for a simple physical examination, and staying in both a sit and a down position with a group of dogs. In the Novice Class, dogs earn an AKC Companion Dog (CD) title after receiving a qualifying score under three different judges.

troimajorThe Open Class is more challenging as more exercises are done off leash and retrieving and jumping challenges are added. In the Open Class, dogs earn an AKC Companion Dog Excellent (CDX) title after receiving a qualifying score under three different judges.

The Utility Class, includes scent discrimination, directed retrieves, jumping and silent signal exercises, is the most challenging class. In the Utility Class, dogs earn an AKC Utility Dog (UD) title after receiving qualifying scores from three different judges.

Interested in training for competitive Obedience? Whether you and your dog have had no training or are advanced, we have an Obedience class to get you started. This term, which starts the second week in April, Carol Hein-Creger and Erinn Hadley of the Canine Training Center are offering Puppy Class, Beginning Obedience, Intermediate Obedience, and Novice Obedience. Sign up now and get started on the competitive track!

UPDATE: As of April 1, 2010, the AKC, through its Canine Partners program, now allows mixed breed dogs to compete in Agility, Rally, and Obedience events.

*Note:  The UKC (United Kennel Club) allows mixed breed dogs for either agility or rally, and some other performance based events: http://www.ukcdogs.com/res/pdf/2010AgilityRulebook.pdf; http://www.ukcdogs.com/res/pdf/2009RallyRulebook.pdf.

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Carol’s Corner – Is Corrective Training Necessary to Train Effectively?

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

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Dear Carol:

Do you believe in using choke chains on dogs to teach them to obey?

Thanks for your time.

Kim B.

Hello Kim: Do I believe they can work? Absolutely. Dogs have been effectively trained for years using correction as an incentive to change their behavior. My initial background was based primarily on corrective training. However, in order for a correction to effectively change behavior, it must be consistently applied, timed correctly, and also be something the dog finds unpleasant enough that he wants to avoid it. Those criteria can be hard to meet.
Do I believe corrections or choke chains are necessary? Absolutely not. I learned years ago that the most effective training involves focusing on and reinforcing desired behaviors. I feel my responsibility as an instructor is to teach my students the most effective, humane training techniques possible. However, I try never to lose sight of the fact that the student’s background and personal beliefs will always have an impact on their training tendencies. My background is such that I can teach and discuss the pros and cons of each method or philosophy, enabling each student to determine which methods are right for them.
Thank you for your interest,
Carol Hein-Creger
Director of Training
Canine Training Center
Carol Hein-Creger has been training dogs and their owners for over 30 years.  She has trained thousands of people, including many local dog trainers.  Carol is currently teaching at AnnaBelle’s Pet Station in downtown Lansing.  Check out her her upcoming class schedule.
Do you have a training question for Carol? Send an email to info@coolcitydogs.com with “Carol’s Corner” in the subject line or use the “Contact Us ” form.

Loose Leash Walking: “No Pulling, No Fooling”

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

Author: Carol Hein-Creger, owner and director of the CANINE TRAINING CENTER

Dogs form their perceptions of people based on the messages they pick up on during every day life with each individual. Whether intended or not, people send messages to dogs with virtually every interaction, and the dog forms an “opinion” or perception of the person’s status based on those messages. This perception determines how the dog will interact with and respond to the person in question.

Even when dogs understand what’s expected of them, they generally won’t comply or respond to commands unless they view the person giving the orders as “higher ranking”, or, in other words, as an authority figure. This is evident when we see trained dogs fail to respond to certain individuals, often within the dog’s own family. This is because those individuals have failed to present themselves as authority figures to the dog, so even though they know what words or commands to say, the dog feels no sense of obligation to the person giving them.

Good, effective leaders have certain characteristics that mark them as leaders.  They don’t have a million rules, but the ones they do have are enforced emphatically. They are consistent. They are fair. They maintain an air of calm. They control access to all resources. They lead, and subordinates follow them.

When we allow dogs to pull us from place to place when on a leash, we effectively send the message that the dog is the leader and we are the follower, or, put in other terms, that we are subordinates to them. This greatly influences how they respond to us on several levels, including whether they respond to our commands or direction when there’s something else they’d rather do. In other words, when our behavior “tells” them we’re not in charge, they happily take over. Dogs innately understand that the one in charge gets to make the rules, and those that are not in charge must follow them.

Therefore, if you want to control your dog’s actions in general, you cannot allow him to drag you all over the place when he’s on a leash.

Below are three effective ways to teach your dog not to pull on a leash, each having their own specific pros and cons:

1. The fastest way to teach your dog not to pull on the leash is to apply a well timed, effective leash correction that PREVENTS your dog from getting to the end of the leash. For the correction to be effective, it must be

a. Applied proactively, BEFORE the dog pulls. The leash must be totally slack unless you are actively correction (including immediately prior to and immediately following the leash correction).

b. Firm enough that your dog wants to avoid it in the future. The level of correction necessary will vary depending on each dog’s level of sensitivity.

c. Applied consistently. This “no pull” rule must be enforced each and every moment your dog is on a leash. To do less will confuse your dog and force him to endure more corrections in the future.  Inconsistency on the handler’s part will result in inconsistency on the dog’s part.

In addition to the corrections, the dog must receive meaningful rewards when he maintains a slack leash. The best trainers focus just as much on rewarding the dog for maintaining a slack leash as on applying corrections effectively.

PROS: Leash corrections are generally the fastest way to teach your dog to stop pulling when on a leash. Following the criteria above, you will see great progress towards that end in just one or 2 training sessions. As the corrections change your dog’s behavior, you will quickly reach a point when corrections are no longer necessary.

CONS: The dog has to endure some corrections that he initially won’t know how to avoid. The correction technique requires practice to perfect. And finally, many dog owners are inconsistent in the correction’s application.

2. If when a dog pulls he is NEVER allowed to move forward in the direction he’s pulling, the pulling will diminish and eventually disappear as the dog learns that pulling doesn’t work. In order for this method to work the handler must follow these steps.

a. Whenever the dog begins to pull, regardless of his intended destination, the owner must immediately STOP and stand as still as statue, preventing the dog from moving even an inch in the direction he’s pulling.  This must be absolutely enforced every moment the dog is on a leash for any reason.

b. The dog must be HEAVILY rewarded, especially initially any time the leash is slack.

PROS: This method requires little skill on the part of the handler. It costs the dog nothing in terms of physical corrections.

CONS: This method can take a long time to teach a dog not to pull, depending on his motivation to move towards something as well as his history of reinforcement for pulling. If he’s been successfully pulling and reaching his intended destination for an extended period of time his pulling will have a long history of reinforcement, which will take much longer to extinguish. Therefore, this technique often works best with puppies that do not have a long history of reinforcement for pulling. Furthermore, to be effective, the handler must be willing to stop EVERY time the dog pulls, even if it’s raining, they’re in a hurry, or just going for a casual walk. Lastly, since the only consequence for pulling is that the dog is not allowed to move forward, this method requires a high frequency of reward in order to inspire the dog to change its’ behavior.

3. There are several devices on the market that when worn by the dog will greatly discourage the dog from pulling. These include head collars and no-pull harnesseseasywalkharnessThe head collars work under the premise that, like a horse, if we can turn the dog’s head in a particular direction, we can influence the body to follow. Like a horse halter, there is a loop that goes over the muzzle and another that fits up right behind the dog’s head. Many dog owners have discovered that a head collar gives them almost immediate “power steering”, enabling even youngsters to control large dogs. gentleleader2The no-pull harnesses generally inhibit the dog’s front legs from freely moving forward when he pulls, thereby changing his behavior over time.

PROS: Once the dog adjusts to them, these devices can quickly make a significant change in the dog’s pulling behavior with only a small investment on the part of the owner.

CONS: Especially in the case of the head collar, many dogs initially resist them, sometimes violently and it can take a significant period of time for the dog to adjust to it. Some dog owners are unwilling to put their dog through the adjustment period. Additionally, again in the case of head collars, some owners are afraid the device will be perceived as a muzzle by the general public and are uncomfortable with that possibility. Lastly, it can be difficult to transition dogs from these devices to traditional collars if the idea is to use them as a temporary training measure.

Want to learn more? Check out the current class schedule the Canine Training Center.

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