Equipaws Goes to Catch Canine Training Academy

 

Equipaws Goes to Catch Canine Training Academy

Our social media specialist and dog walker Kristen Cortese just completed the Catch Canine Trainers Academy taught by Dee Hoult, CEO of  Applause Your Paws Dog Training and one of only 250 Certified Dog Behavior Consultants in the world. We sponsored Kristen for this week-long intensive dog training as part of our overall mission to improve the quality of our clients’ dogs’ lives. We spend a lot of time one-on-one with your pups- our walks are a perfect opportunity to reinforce their training. Kristen just completed training with the best so she can in turn work with our own dog walkers on maintaining great behaviors and walking habits for your pups!

Anatomy of Dog Training

The week-long, hands-on training happened from January 23-37, eight hours a day at Miami-Dade Animal Services. The group learning alongside Kristen was small, which gave them even more time with Dee to learn tools on how to teach dogs basic behaviors such as heel, sit, lie down, go to their place etc., and some tools on how to break a dog of certain behaviors such as leash pulling. The workshop included a lot of work with adult dogs, whom they taught how to sit, stay, heel, lie down, and to go to their place.

The training also covered how to get a dog’s focus back when you’re training, as dogs can get very distracted. Dog training is a very interesting calling that is a lot more difficult and time-intensive than it looks. A few things a trainer must do include:

  • Clicking and rewarding at the proper time, establishing a system of marking the behavior and rewarding. transition from first luring a dog into doing something,
  • To taking away the lure,
  • then moving to using a hand signal…

basically eliminating things until dog understands a verbal cue. We have a renewed respect for dog trainers!

 

Watch Kristen in Action at Catch Canine Training Academy!

Major Lessons in Dog Training:

One of the main takeaways Kristen shared with us is how easy it is to reinforce bad behavior inadvertently. Dee taught the group the psychology of how we actually reinforce bad behavior without realizing it. “I’m really cognizant of it this past week with our walks. If I let this dog pull me to sniff, I’m rewarding negative behavior.”

“A walk is a walk. And when a dog performs and does what it’s supposed to do, then you allow them to sniff. You’re using these fun things like sniffing and playing as rewards. If you don’t use them to use as reward for positive behavior, you’re missing out. Another example: why would you leave food in dishes for dogs to graze at their own pace? Feedings are a perfect opportunity to reinforce behaviors that you’ve taught!” says Kristen.

Every interaction with our pets is an opportunity to continue to reinforce positive behavior in them. As dog walkers, we know we’re not just walking dogs; there are so many other things going on. We can support whatever training the dog has completed given that we spend so much time with our clients’ pups. Some quick takeaways:

  • There’s a time for play, but you also want to continue to reinforce the behaviors you’ve spent time instilling in your dog.
  • You can undo them with silly things like walking in the house too excited, squealing and over-exciting them, and then they end up jumping.  
  • Every move you make is important, something you have to be mindful of if you want to reinforce good behavior.

That’s why it’s important for the whole family to be on board with reinforcing good behavior, or else training will be a waste of time and money.

Kristen learned that, not surprisingly, a lot of dog psychology is totally relatable to how we raise our children. “This is exactly what’s going on with my daughter. I couldn’t believe the parallel between training kids and training daughter. Every day we can either reinforce positive behaviors or negative behavior as walkers, thus missing opportunities.”

We are all very satisfied with what Kristen learned. Kristen says, “Dee is amazing. We worked heavily with the shelter dogs which was challenging and fulfilling. If you can work with them you can work with any dog! We also worked with trained dogs and did a lot of exercises alongside other trainers, who we watched and learned from.”

Trainers Helping Homeless Animals at Miami-Dade Animal Services

We also love that the training took place at Miami-Dade Animal Services, because the larger dogs have a harder time getting adopted than small dogs do. This workshop directly benefited and changed many doggie lives, because a trained dog is much easier to handle and adopt.

Kristen agrees: “It was nice to go to Miami-Dade Animal Services. They have a beautiful facility and it was so rewarding to volunteer there. We each took out three different dogs daily, all big shelter dogs. It was really cool to work with them because we don’t know what they know or what they’ve been trained in. There’s a very broad description of their personality when you see their sheet.”

Kristen really enjoyed the training, and we can’t wait for her to share her knowledge with our dog walkers. “I loved being able to work with dogs that are unwanted. You gain a sense of respect for these trainers. It’s a hard job but the rewards are high because these dogs are so smart. You take away the most that you are implementing something and it’s this communication that goes on between you and the dog- it’s like seeing a kid learn. When they realize you’re teaching them to sit and they get it consistently, what you set out to do you’ve accomplished. That’s the best feeling.”

 

Pet Spotlight: Overweight Dog Gets Exercise

Overweight dog?

 

Overweight Dog? You’re not alone.

Are you family to an overweight dog? Most of us show our dogs love with cuddles and treats. Unfortunately, loving our dogs too much with food and not enough with activity is part of the reason 54% of American dogs are obese. Our clients hire our dog walkers to help overweight dogs lose some of the extra fluff around their middle. Recently, our assistant manager Meghan was enlisted in helping Toby, a grumpy and overweight Dachshund, change his life for the better. We’re all works in progress, and with Meghan’s help Toby is progressing quickly!

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Toby: Pet Spotlight

My most recent and proud pet project has revolved around a grouchy Dachshund named Toby, who is overweight and in need of serious discipline with his attitude, behaviors, and health.

As history tells us, Dachshunds were used for hunting and burrowing after small game animals as well as badger extermination. This fact was a surprise to me! I suppose all dogs had a purpose before they became household pampered pets. In addition, the name Dachshund is German, literally translating to badger hound. In modern times this breed is known to be clever, lively, affectionate, brave, at times impatient, but a devoted family member. Toby fully lives up to this description.

Toby belongs to an older couple, who don’t necessarily have the energy or mobility to take him out for fresh air, exercise or…to do his business. Toby spends his days indoors protecting his adoring pet parents. He uses the bathroom inside and on the porch. In addition, he growls at anyone who comes near his mom, acting tough, but showing clear signs of fear aggression. He looks at you with huge whale eyes and he’s not afraid to snap if you come to close. I would be ill-tempered too if a stranger came in my home, I wasn’t able to explore the outdoors and had a spare tire around my mid section. Fear not! There is a happy future for this little boy.

The behavior described was the old Toby. We have been working together for the past month, three times a week and I am thrilled to report his progress:

First Visit: Before arriving for my first walk, I called ahead to have his Mom and Dad step out of the room, so he would be less aggressive and out of protection mode. As I entered, Toby paced around growling and barking, running away from me. Once he was cornered (yes, this method is intimidating, but I had no other option) I slowly placed the slip lead over his head. Luckily, I have fast reflexes as he tried to nip my hand in the process. I have to place him in a stroller to go through the lobby, as no dogs are allowed. He was trembling in fear on the elevator ride down. I could physically see his whole body shaking. Once outside, he refused to walk, so in a stroller I wheeled him down the street and had him walk back to the apartment. We did a few laps like this before returning. He ran straight to Mom and wouldn’t even look at me.

Second Visit: I dreaded walking in, as Toby has been quite difficult and personally it’s a bit scary to advance on an angry dog. Toby gave me a low growl, but not the intense bark or showing of teeth. Shockingly, this is an improvement. He allowed me to put the slip lead on gently with his Mom and Dad closely observing (or ready to step in if I needed help). This was the first time they stayed in the room while I leashed Toby. Again, progress. He was still shaking in the elevator, but allowed me to pet and comfort him on our way down. I used the stroller less, switching between walking and rolling every block or so. He still didn’t doing his business outside, but that may be have been asking a little much considering his progress.

Third Visit: Both parents were relaxing in the apartment when I came to pick up Toby for our walk. With a little coaxing, Toby slowly waddled his way over to me wagging his tail.  He kept his body and head low to the ground saying hello. He was still shaking a bit with fear, but without any barking, growling, showing of teeth, or nipping. What an attitude change! He walked more and more without the stroller.

Fourth Visit: This was the best report yet! When I walked in, Toby’s tail was high, wagging away, and he ran to the door to greet me with excited barks. After a few “Hi Toby, good boy Toby’s!”, he rolled over on his belly asking for rubs looking at me expectantly. He easily let me put the slip lead on and we were off. His usual shaking had ceased and I could visually see the smile across his face. He truly was a happy boy in the apartment and outside during the walk. In a matter of one month he has become a new dog!

I will continue my mission to improve this little pup’s life. His parents were happy to report he has lost ½ pound since our time together, which is significant for a smaller breed. His behavior and quality of living has dramatically improved due to different company and walks.

Is your pet in the same rut? Does your pup need an attitude adjustment or more attention? Call us at 305.794.3733 and we will Implement daily dog walks and see your overweight dog’s life transform before your eyes!

Change a Pet’s Life Day

Change a pet's life day

Change a Pet’s Life Day

January 24th is Change a Pet’s Life Day!  This special day was created to help animal adoption and spread knowledge on animal welfare. For pet owners and pet lovers a like, you can change a pet’s life in many different ways! You can:

  • Try volunteering at a local shelter like the Humane Society of Greater Miami or Paws4You, send a charitable donation or donate much needed pet supplies.  
  • If you’re more invested, become a foster pet parent or adopt a pet of your own.
  • If you already have a pet, treat them to a new obedience class or take them on a field trip to a new park.  Any action big or small can change an animal’s life and it just may change yours.

Meghan also shares a personal story that may encourage you to take action this January and change a pet’s life. “Growing up on a farm there was never a dull moment. New animals showing up on our doorstep, pet injuries to tend, vet visits, losses and new life, hence Neverdull Farm being born. Any animal who needed a home was welcome.  We began as a typical rural household with our beloved goldens and a few barn cats. A childhood 4H project turned into 6 goats and a small cattle business.  The menagerie expanded with a famous pig, a goat, and a very special golden retriever.  The tales continued with two donkeys, roosters, and too many cats to count.  We never meant to become a sanctuary for abandoned pets, but animals seemed to find us. When thinking of Changing a Pet’s Life Day, one particular story stood out in my mind.  

One day a huge, light colored golden by the name of Shadow was dropped off by a family friend. Mom was always bringing animals who needed a “foster” home to the farm knowing we most likely would keep them. She said don’t get attached, we have him for a month at most.  Shadow seemed to always have a goofy grin spread across his face. He had a dopey way about him and bounded around like a silly giant dog.  Soon after, we couldn’t resist his loving personality and Shadow became part of our family.  We would end up saving his life in more ways than one.

Our two other goldens, Sheila and Mya, were well behaved, sweet and obedient girls who would go outside to do their business and come back.  One bitter Michigan evening, all three dogs did not come back and were nowhere to be found when calling their name out of the back door.  In a panic, Mom and I went tearing around our property in the truck in search of any signs of life.  We came across our pond and in the headlights we saw two shiny eyes of Shadow who had fallen through the ice and was clinging on with his paws struggling to stay afloat.  In my mind Sheila and Mya were under the ice and I wasn’t going to lose Shadow too.  

Before I knew what my body was doing I tore out over the ice after him, falling through the ice myself but making my way through the icy muck and cattails of the pond.  Adrenaline was keeping my limbs moving in the below-freezing temperature of the water.  My mom was watching terrified from the bank, now screaming as I’m sure she was afraid to lose both of us.  I dragged the 125 pound oaf out close enough to shore where he could walk.  Teeth chattering and alive I hugged him all the way home.  Sheila and Mya were at the back door step waiting for us.  

Shadow seemed to have another chance at life, but not for long.  Soon after he decided to have an affinity for chasing loud trucks and tractors.  I couldn’t tell you why that was so attractive to him.  He was ran over by a truck and later a livestock trailer.  This caused him hip problems, but was somehow able to live a normal life.  Being hit twice and living to bark about the tale was quite miraculous- someone up there wanted him to live or he had 9 lives.  

He was a dog pure of heart, always at your feet or sitting by your side if you were sick or having a bad day.  He was there through boyfriend break ups, the wins and losses of my ongoing team sports, vacation trips to the beach or accompanying me to the park. No matter what the circumstance he always carried his goofy grin that seemed to be contagious.  Who would’ve known a happenstance adoption would create lifelong family memories?  Don’t be afraid to save a pet’s life as it could change yours forever.  

I hope this story touches your heart as it does mine.  I’m so fortunate to work for Equipaws, a company who fully supports a day like this.  Working with local and national rescue groups.  Spreading our love to critters, big and small everyday. Now the question is, how will you change a pet’s life?”