We are thrilled at the wonderful results from the recent CHR positive dog training class. "Positive Dog Training" is a class about understanding your dog's emotional and behavioral needs, which helps create a more peaceful household and a better relationship between you and your dog. So many people don't realize that undesirable dog behaviors can be changed for the better. We want to make sure that adoptive owners and foster parents understand that and give them the tools to make change happen!
Several past adopters attended the training session, as well as several CHR volunteers and foster parents. We started off the training session with fresh coffee and bagels while each dog owner/foster described problem behaviors in their current dogs. The setting was very relaxed and everyone was open to all of the new knowledge provided. Because so many of the rescue dogs attending had a past history of neglect, it was important to keep the focus of the training class on why their dog was behaving a certain way. Everyone was given a turn to discuss their dog's problem behaviors and we provided solutions to help overcome those behaviors. Each student was also given a journal to write down changes in behaviors that may arise in the future. Keeping a journal will allow fosters/owners to record important details about the timeline and context of changes in behaviors and notes for later discussion with a positive trainer.
One of our alumni, Lilly, attended with her wonderful mom, Jill. Lilly was fostered by CHR for a year. It took that long for Lilly to really start trusting people again. Making sure that our rescue dogs are emotionally stable enough to handle the transition to an adoptive home is critical to us, regardless of how long it takes. CHR is focused on what each individual rescue dog needs and that is also what guided each owner's training at this class.
A new problem that Jill has noticed with Lilly is that she has become fearful about going out to the yard to eliminate. We discussed recent changes that could be possible causes and then discussed ways to desensitize Lilly to this fear. With so many possible causes for the fear of going outside, we had to break down the process of going outdoors into individual steps and address possible issues that might arise at each step. Simply throwing small pieces of Lilly's favorite food (turkey sausage) near the door entrance was the first step. Thresholds to the outdoors are a big fear trigger for many dogs. By associating yummy turkey with the scary door exit, we're hoping to help give Lilly the extra support to help her gain her confidence to go outside again. Each additional step was discussed with Jill and she is relieved to know that there are multiple possible solutions to this frustrating problem. Jill has always contacted us for any changes in Lilly's behavior and, by following our positive modification philosophy, she has been able to conquer each behavioral issue or manage them better.
We then worked on some training lessons which included instructions on getting a pet's attention (to be able to recognize his/her own name), Targeting (teaching a dog to target various items), and Recall (to come when called). These are some of the most important training commands needed with rescue dogs. However, each dog's needs are unique so we made sure to adjust the training techniques to each individual dog.
For example, Darla, a class participant, is blind. Her foster mom, Debbie, is an amazing person who wants to ensure that she is doing everything possible to help Darla adjust to her foster home. For Darla, giving Debbie a lesson on clicker training was helpful in getting the dog's attention while Debbie stands outside with her during elimination breaks. Using the clicker while working on recall was also a great way for Darla to engage in something mentally stimulating. A wooden spoon covered in liverwurst was used as a reward for Darla's correct response to coming when called and made it easier for Darla to find the reward.
We did have one visitor to our class, Tucker, who will need more
involved behavioral support. Tucker is fearful of going on walks and for that, his wonderful mom, Melanie, is signing up for our upcoming, "Reactive Rover Class." This class will cover the most common issue we see in Rescue Dogs, which is a tendancy to lunge and react to other people or dogs on walks. Dogs can also react like this to visting guests in the home so all elements of the problem behavior will be addressed.
We feel adding fun to your dog's day will help
them feel better!
All of the dogs did very well with the lessons and our youngest participant, Gino, had a lot of fun interacting with the volunteers and other dogs. Gino is a 6-month-old puppy who is currently receiving positive training to help him grow and develop into a properly socialized and well-adjusted little dog. To see his adoption profile Click Here. We ended the class by discussing toys and other items that stimulate dogs mentally and provide them with fun activities to do daily. Dogs need exercise and stimulation just like people do. Everyone received a doggie gift bag filled with a Kong, a journal, a clicker, and other training items to help in their new adventure of incorporating fun learning into their rescue dog's day. The class was successful in conveying the message that helping your dog with behavioral problems should only include stress-free positive techniques.
While it may take a little while to see lasting results, positive behavior modifcation training is the most effective, fun, and humane training for all dogs. Our next class, "Reactive Rover," is coming soon. Make sure to register now because spots will fill up fast! For more information on the class visit our training page.