Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Dogs And Doorways - Who goes first?

When it comes to leaving your home, your dog may be taking the lead. Or pulling you through the doorway one way or another! The idea of you going through first to establish you are the leader is a great idea.  When you control the departure from your home, this calm exit may predispose the rest of your walk!  Making that happen is the challenge. Here are some tips to help you be the first one through the door.

Ask your dog to sit and stay while you clip the leash onto them is the first step.

  • Ask your dog to sit and stay while clipping their leash onto their collar or harness.
  • Releasing them from their sit stay position is the next step - making sure they are listening to you when they get up, rather than they release themselves when they feel like it.
    • A release word is three parts - you say the word  - an example is OK or Release or All done, then you move, then your dog moves out of their position.  
  • When you create structure around a doorway, your dog will be more attentive to you, rather than being excited or anxious about what is on the other side, and can't be bothered in waiting for you to get your shoes on before finding out whats there!

Getting your dog to sit and stay while you open the door is the next step
  • Open the door and praise your dog for remaining in their sitting position.
  • Have them sit and stay until you are ready to release them.
  • If they get up before your release word is given - start over and slow down the action of either going to the door to open it or opening the door.
  • Release your dog with your special word to allow them to go through.

Getting your dog to sit and stay while you open the door and go through first is the final step
  • Open the door and praise your dog for remaining in their sitting position.
  • If they get up before your release word is given - start over and slow down the action of either going to the door to open it or opening the door and you going through the door
  • Release your dog with your special word to allow them to go through after you have crossed the opening threshold.

Practise this a few times a week and your dog will look to you for when to go through doorways first, rather than think the door opening is a portal to anything they want, whenever they want!

Happy Training Everyone!

For more information on DogStars Training Academy's Classes, Private consultations or Dog Trainers Workshops - please visit -

Monday, October 21, 2013

Is your dog's social butterfly nature , pulling you off course?

Here are some tips to help understand what is really going on for your dog, and how to adjust your dog's social agenda to be more aligned to yours.

Managing the greetings for your pup at a young age can help set a precedent for later in life.  I had a social butterfly for a dog when I first got him - At the tender age of 3 months old, he ( Basil ) grew up on a film set with lots of people and lots of dogs at his beck and call for 2 months.  This started his own ideas about who he gets to interact with and when.  At 6 months of age after the film was complete - I had to deal with the after shock of what the last 2 months brought on.  A dog who pulled on leash to say hello to anything and everything that he thought worthy. I was just a puppet on a leash! I knew I had to shift this quickly... but how and why?

What a social butterfly dog looks like:  A dog that sees a dog or a person and absolutely positively has to say hello to them.  Greeting another dog and person requires certain etiquette - a polite greeting is one without too much stress or excitement.  This left unchecked may evolve into barking or pulling on leash to visit with the object in their sites.  Not fun, who wants one arm longer than the other.

Why is it a concern?
When a very excited dog says hello to another dog, there may some jumping around, sniffing of the face, eyes and ears ( which is literally a "in your face" greeting  ) and be pulling on the leash while doing all of the above.  Pulling on the leash creates a 'bug' eyed kind of look in the dog pulling and also can manifest a crab like scampering towards the object of their choosing.  To the dog being approached, this can and will be interpreted as a stressed animal approaching, which in turn will place the object of desire on guard.  This stressed or excited greeting may go sour quickly if the excited dog is  allowed to get what they want in this state of mind.  After one greeting has been rewarded in this state of mind - the next greeting your dog will think they need to get to level 8 ( out of 10 ) to say hello - so thats the excitement level they will get into for the greeting to take place.  If left unchecked - the level of excitement or stress can reach 9 or 10 - at this level fights can break out - because not everyone wants to party all the time. Even Lindsay Lohan can attest to that!

A more appropriate greeting is a calmer bum sniffing and circling around so the latter is available to all.  Then the play may commence once they have figured out who they are interacting with.

What dogs sniff and why?  Dogs sniff each other to see who they are and how they are feeling, if they are in season ( available mating material - if only it was that easy for people! ) and if they are healthy or under the weather.

How to alter this state of butterflyitis... Firstly, avoid rewarding the state of mind of the dog - on a scale of 1-10 the greeting ideally is between 3-5.  Calmer greetings are going to help you control the situation better, this may require a short intervention before the next time your dog says hi to another dog, or person.  Having your dog sit and then given permission with a "OK - go say hi" from you - is a step in the right direction.  If your dog is unable to sit with the excited state of mind - walk them away with a little more distance and try again.  When your dog learns that their calmer state of mind is being rewarded - the party animal in them will become more quiet.  Keep in mind - this may take attempts in various situations for your d learn that calmer greetings are approriate too!

Happy Training!

Georgina Bradley - Top Dog @ DogStars Training Academy
Certified Professional Dog Trainer - KA # 2112796
Certified Pet First Aid Instructor for Walks and Wags Pet First Aid
Member of CAPPDT - ADPT - Teamsters 155 Animal Trainers Division - ACFC Film Union
DogStars Trainers Workshops - Lead Trainer
604-878-STAR (7827)

Monday, November 12, 2012

The importance of calm greetings - Part 1

Getting your new puppy or newly adopted dog involved in a training program can prevent assist in opening the lines of communication between you and your dog. 

When your dog arrives in your home, they speak a different language.  They need to be coached on what the ground rules are in your home and reinforced positively for making good decisions. 
Sure maintaining a sense of structure like asking your dog to get on their bed when people arrive is a good thing. 
How one goes about it is important.  When asking your pup to do something specific when an event happens, (i.e: someone entering your home)  is a great idea in theory.  The goal that may be desired is to prevent any jumping up on your visitors.  Something that I come across is guarded behavior from the dog that is 'man handled' when the dog fails to do the task requested. What I mean by 'man-handled' is frequently yelled at to get back on their bed or physically made to.

What this creates for the dog is when someone comes over, tension rises in the home and visiting people are a time of stress.  Your dog may see this as you get stressed, and they feel that too.  

How this impacts your dog long term? Greetings become stressful.  Greetings with anyone that comes in your home and anywhere near it potentially. 

Depending on your Dog's current state at the time of greetings with people and other dogs, this may need some behaviour shifts from you and your dog.

Tip #1- Allow your dog to say hello with a sit first and releasing them to greet someone.
Tip #2- If your dog is on leash during greetings with dogs or people, ideally maintain a slack leash during the interaction. This prevents any unnecessary stress being fed through the leash and collar/harness your dog has attached to them.
Tip #3- If your dog is not wearing a collar when greetings are challenging at the home level, simply placing a leash and collar/ harness on them during visitors arrival and departure for two weeks can help restructure the excitement or stress that shows up during this time.

Training your dog to happily welcome and accept house guests inside the home is an important step in having greetings outside the home, become welcoming and calmer as well.

If you or someone you know requires some assistance with their dog - please forward this article to them or have them contact for a free phone consultation.

Happy Training!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The importance of Puppy training. PART 1

The importance of Puppy school. PART 1 Getting your new puppy involved in a puppy class where there is some social time with other dogs and a structured agenda for each class is encouraged for many reasons... First - puppies need to be socialized with other dogs, big and small! They need to be able to stand up for themselves within a safe environment with trained professionals standing by - to help break it up and calm the pack down before more play is allowed - yes there should be someone refereeing these animals. If things get too out of control - a simple time out is put into play for all and when they have all calmed to a suitable level the play is resumed. Amazingly enough the play is much more subdued than before, thus the puppies have learned to play only to a certain level of excitement, if they go over this level - the fun police step in and break the party up. After the play has calmed to a reasonable level your trainer will ask for the pups to be leashed up and now the lessons about how to communicate begin. Dog language to human, and human language to dog. Our DogStars certified trainers are versed in how the dog perceives you and how you may be perceiving your dog. Coaching and guiding you both into getting to the same page with time, consistency and practice.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

My Dog's Take on life

Basil the border collie: 'There are so many things to smell outside on my daily walks'
Owner of Basil is amazed at how many things there are to smell too! Takes a

When I take the time to look at the world around me - the 'rat' race seems to disappear. Taking time to smell the roses or whatever you heart or nose desires - is taking time for yourself and a reminder to stay present!

This take on life was inspired by Basil the 11 yr old Border Collie / part social butterfly.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Resource Guarding Behavior in Dogs - Prevention

Getting a new puppy is an exciting and fun time in any home. Taking precautions in any new relationship is appropriate - especially when your new addition speaks a different language than you - DOG Language!

One area of our focus towards new puppies and dogs of all ages too - is preventing unwanted behaviors from taking place.

When dog resource guard they are guarding what they consider to be a valuable resource. Such as toys, food, people, areas, cars, chew toys.

How we can prevent this behavior from becoming a problem is teaching your dog that you are not a threat around these items. How we do that is easy - with each resource there will be formula to adhere to - here is an example of food bowl exercises....

Moving the food bowl

While your puppy / dog eats - hold the bowl with your hand. Keeping the bowl on the floor

Place a tasty treat next to the bowl with the other hand - something yummy like a small piece of cheese or hot dog. When your puppy or dog goes for the tasty treat - pick the bowl up and return the bowl back to them once the treat is gone.

Repeat this 5 - 10 times without much time delay before returning the bowl.

Progress to picking up the bowl prior to offering a treat distraction.

After a few sessions of this game. Your dog will understand that their bowl moving away means that a tasty treat is on its way!

Treats in the food bowl

As a puppy is eating dry kibble from their bowl, quickly put your hand in the bowl and drop in a tasty treat. Chicken, cheese, hot dog... etc.

Allow your dog to enjoy what you have just given them and to return to re-investigate the dry kibble to check for more treats, and to start eating again.

Repeat by dropping a treat quickly in their food bowl.

Repeat several times.

Your dog with soon love to see movement and hands around their food bowl!

The walk-by

When your pup is eating at their food bowl - ask friends or family members to walk by - as they do - you place a scoop of canned tasty food into their kibble.

Repeat a few times so every time someone comes near their eating area - a tasty spoonful of canned food is added to their dish.

Your pup will love to see approaching people - their attention will be waiting for the tasty spoonful to show up.

At the next mealtime - have a friend or family member walk up to your pups bowl and serve up a treat into their food bowl!

The slow service counter for dogs

Place your dog's meal allotment kibble in a bowl on the counter and give your dog 1 kibble into their bowl on the floor.

Leave the dog to wonder where the rest of their food is - ignore them for a few moments - then return to offer them their next order.

Proceed to pick up their food bowl and add one more kibble. Ask the dog to do something for this - like sit and then give them their bowl back.

Repeat until they have had their entire meal - teaches patience and to chew their food too!

Any questions or concerns regarding your dog's behavoir around their food or any guarding behavior - please contact a professional for an assessment immediately!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Become a Dog Trainer

DogStars 9 week program registered with the Private Career Training Institute is accepting registrations for 2011 fall program. Prices are going up though! Register before March 1 and receive last years pricing.

Fall 2011 pricing will increase by 10% - cost includes textbooks and workshops.

Our program has the most hands on learning with dogs in Canada. We promote positive training techniques and clicker training. Our specialty is working animals for film and television - you can learn to do the same!

For more information - contact our office @ 604-8780-7827