Sunday, February 28, 2010

Upcoming Dog Activity Options in Ventura: Mutt March Madness Headed our Way

This March brings lots of fun choices for you and your dog. The Inquisitive Canine will start it off with a dog social for your puppy or younger smaller dog (up to 12 months and 25 pounds), followed by a leash walking workshop for dogs of all ages. Then there's our popular Canine College for learning good manners, and finally the St. Patrick's Parade Ventura Dog Mile event in downtown Ventura!

Each one provides mental and physical stimulation, so come join in for one or for all of these fun and rewarding activities! Here's a little breakdown of each one:

Girls just wanna have fun!
Social for Puppies & Small Younger Dogs
Sunday March 7th, 1:00 - 2:00 PM
Puppies learn by exploring their environments and by being exposed to new stimuli - including people and other dogs. While it is important to introduce your puppy to new situations and encourage social behavior, it is also important to provide positive and pleasant experiences that won’t overwhelm and stress out your dog. Puppy Play Groups help you raise a well-adjusted and healthy dog by providing a safe and relaxed environment for your young pup to socialize and play. Your puppy will burn energy while learning how to make friends and investigating new sights, sounds, and smells. The positive experiences that your puppy has during this critical socialization period will have a long-lasting influence on your dog’s developing confidence and sociable temperament.

Puppy Socials are for all puppies 10 weeks to 5 months old. However, small dogs up to 25 pounds and 12 months in age are also welcome.

Cost: $10.00 advanced registration (by Thursday March 4th) $15.00 at door. Social is one hour. See our
website to register, and for policies and safety guidelines. You may contact us directly for additional information.

Please provide us with current copy of vaccination records if you are a new student. You may fax a copy to our office: 805.650.8501 or bring with you.

Teach Your Dog to Walk Nicely on Leash
Girls just wanna have fun!
Sunday March 7th, 3:00 - 4:15 PM
This 75 minute workshop for you and your dog covers everything from equipment, simple techniques and training steps that will make walking your dog more enjoyable for everyone.

Cost: $20.00 per dog if registered by Thursday March 4th, $25.00 thereafter. $30.00 same-day registration.
Workshop is for all dogs who are comfortable around other dogs and people while on leash.

The Inquisitive Canine website for additional information and toregister, or to contact us.

*Perfect class to get your dog ready for the
Ventura Downtown Green Mile on March 13th!
A current copy of your dogs vaccination records is required at the time of sign-up. You may fax a copy to our office: 805.650.8501 or bring with you.

St. Patrick's Day Parade Dog Mile Run/Walk
An exciting mile run or walk event in Downtown Ventura taking place on Saturday March 13th before the St. Patricks Day Parade.

To register for event, please see the Ventura Mile website. For additional information on this fun and exciting event, please click here! (Our Loose Leash Walking workshop on March 7th is the perfect way to prep your pooch for this event!)

Canine College

With Ventura College Community Education
Class is filling quickly ~ Register now!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bringing Dance Class Tips to Dog Training

Believe it or not I love to dance. You'd think as a certified professional dog trainer I'd be into Canine Freestyle - Trust me, if there were local classes I'd take them. Spending time dancing with my trusty sidekick and inquisitive canine Poncho the dog (besides in the kitchen and backyard) would be a total blast! Unfortunately there are zero canine freestyle dog training classes in our area - at least at this time. However, there are some alternatives for yours truly.

One of my favorite styles of dance is called West Coast Swing - it happens to be our official California State Dance. My friends Woody and Louise Bretz are the founders and owners of Connexions Dance Studio here in Ventura. They teach West Coast Swing, along with many other styles of dance. I've been having tons of fun revisiting the dance world, seeing lots of friends from the past and getting the ol' dance shoes warmed up again - makes for great cross-training too.

Why do I bring this up? What does West Coast Swing dance classes have to do with dog training classes? Well, as a student I get to see things from a different perspective. Listening differently, out of my comfort zone, trying to pay attention while learning at the same time. It's always humbling to put oneself in another's position - or, having the shoe on the other foot (HA! no pun intended). Anyway, I was reminded of a few tips when it comes to partner dancing - I thought it would be good to bring up because these dance tips also relate to the dog-human partnership, making them good dog training tips.

You've heard me talk about the "The Four F's" - now I want to bring up The Three T's: Timing, Technique and Teamwork! All are important elements of partner dancing, and all are important when working, or partnering, with your dog - no matter if it's taking dog obedience classes or canine freestyle classes. Here's what I mean.
  • Timing: When it comes to rewarding behaviors you want your dog to perform, precise timing is key. When it comes to punishing behaviors you don't want your dog performing timing is absolutely critical!
Let's take house-training for instance. The ideal time is as soon as your dog is eliminating! Or immediately after! And I mean hang out with your dog while he or she goes, then throw a party, right then and there! Rewarding any time after that might result in training other behaviors - which can be a good thing, but it might not be the intended one.

An example for precise timing and punishment would be the Greeting Nicely behavior (because we never punish for eliminating in a forbidden area). If you want your dog to sit politely to greet, and he or she jumps up on you (because that's normal dog behavior), then ignoring (which is the "punishment") your dog as soon as his or her front paws started towards you would be ideal - not after he or she has made contact and you've reacted with any form of attention.
  • Technique: No doubt about this one. Positive reinforcement, humane, reward-based training methods. If you want it, reward it, you'll get more of it. It's that simple. I question the integrity, decency and coping skills of anyone who feels the need to use coercion, aversive and bullying techniques to get any animal to do something. Do such unpleasant techniques work? Sure they do - but not as well (science has proven this), plus other, often worse behaviors end up appearing.
  • Teamwork: It's much more fun and pleasant to work with a partner whom you enjoy spending time with - this is why we adopt dogs in the first place. If you want your dog enjoying spending time with you, I say, do unto others!
For instance, understand your dog and his or her species specific traits. Think about the times when you take your dog out for a walk. Do you make it about his or her needs? Allowing to mark, sniff, even pull on leash once in awhile? Or is it all about you and having to get your walk or run in? How about when you run a few errands? Do you bring your dog with you, just so he or she can get out of the house? Or are they left at home?

When it comes to dancing I certainly use the title "leader", but that's because there is usually a "follower". I prefer to use other terms with dog training. One of them being teamwork, which happens to be important for any type of relationship.