The past 6 weeks have been a blur! It feels like I’ve been here forever and it also feels like I just left New York. We are getting settled in, slowly but surely…
Supplements to support behavior change
These over-the-counter products can be used separately or together. By helping your dog be calmer, less reactive, and less anxious, your training will progress more quickly, with more permanent long-term change. Don’t reach for them as a last resort! Using them in conjunction with a well-planned and well-executed desensitization and counter-conditioning program can really help improve your dog’s overall stress level, making him/her more receptive to training exercises.
Stress (both positive and negative) quickly depletes B vitamins, so help your dog stay stocked up on this. Most dog foods do not have enough, especially when you consider that Vitamin B is easily destroyed by high heat. Guess how your dog’s food is cooked? Try Amino B-Plex by Rx Vitamins for Pets.
Milk-Protein Based Calming Supplements
These milk-protein-based calming and anxiety-reducing supplements are safe to give everyday. Terra used Zylkene for years and it really made a dent in her general high arousal and sound sensitivity. Ringo swears by Composure for when his separation anxiety creeps up. These consistently get rave reviews from my students and are very easy to feed.
DAP stands for Dog Appeasing Pheromone. These solutions emit a dog-appeasing pheromone that mimics natural comforting pheromones emitted by nursing mother dogs. You can get it in a spray form to put in the crate, the car or on a bandana for your dog to wear. You can get it in a diffuser for the whole house. Or get it in a collar that your dog wears full time!
Calming Ingredients in Treats
Look for ingredients like passionflower, chamomile, skullcap, valerian root, or melatonin. Lots of brands sell calming treats these days, so you’ll want to look for good quality overall ingredients and calming ingredients in amounts that will actually make a difference. Here are some to consider:
Ultra-Calm by Drs Fosters and Smith
Rescue Remedy by Bach
Calming Bites by Zesty Paws
Pet Calm by Richard’s Organics
SmartCanine Calming by SmartPak
We are happy to announce a partnership with two wonderful trainers in the New York and Connecticut area that will keep our SassyT students in good hands! I will be planning quarterly visits to NY and CT for private lessons, but STCA is very thankful to have such good trainers available to continue the force-free humane and rewards-based training that is the cornerstone of SassyT Canine Academy.
I feel completely confident recommending and referring NY and CT STCA clients to these trainers, who are working closely with me to continue to bring wonderful and effective dog training to Westchester, Greenwich, and surrounding areas.
Omg what an amazing weekend! Our first "go" at Elite Novice!
Ringo and Terra both performed their first Elite Novice routines at the Come to the Cabaret RFE Musical Freestyle Event. Terra only performed once (to be conservative about her arthritis) but our routine earned a first place with 98/100, and TWO Audience Choice Awards: "Celebrating the Bond" and "This routine made me cry". Ringo performed both days, earning his Elite Novice Title with a 2nd place 88/100 & 1st place 89/100, as well as a Judge's Choice Award for "A dog who dances with a joyful heart" in memory of Patricia Nash's Chase.
I also felt the love with my going-away gift card and TIARA! Much love to all my freestyle friends here. I will miss you tons! I'll be finding excuses to come visit, that is for sure! ❤️❤️
Thank you to our judge Carrol Haines and to Nancy Bartosik Marston and Lindsay Crampton who worked hard to help me put this show on! Also major thank you to Arlene Zingale and Kathy Labella for all your volunteer time helping us with music and scorekeeping. Thank you to Petra Ford and Sue Yanoff and Joe Zuckerman without whose help, I would not have been dancing with Terra at all this weekend. I'm beyond grateful for her good health!!
I'm super excited for others' accomplishments over the weekend but I can't divulge it before they have. MAJOR CONGRATS TO EVERYONE!
First of all thank you all SO much for the kindness and support of STCA and the dedication to your dogs over the years. You all know that I love what I do. My human and canine students always make me smile, and canine behavior never fails to inspire and fascinate me.
My journey has lead me to a teaching opportunity at Wonder Dogs in Corvallis, Oregon. I will be training there and fleshing out their current curriculum with plans to buy the business next year. I’m truly looking forward to realizing my dream of owning my own training facility.
This doesn’t come without the cost of leaving all my wonderful clientele and their amazing dogs. I will genuinely and sincerely miss every single one of you. My heart hurts just thinking about it.
THE GOOD PART:
I am setting up an Associate SassyT Trainer program that will keep you in good hands when I leave.
I am even dreaming about adding a day or two of home-visit lessons onto the beginning or the end of my camp trips.
I’d really truly love to stay in touch.
I am SO LUCKY to have this opportunity with my amazing colleagues at Camp Unleashed! I will be coming back to the east coast at least twice a year to teach and run camp, so it is helping my move to Oregon feel a little less bittersweet. I will terribly miss all my lovely clients and their amazing dogs, so you all better come to camp!! <3 <3
Is it an attention problem or a motivation problem?
Springtime is here and most of us respond to the warmer weather by taking our dogs out more often. If we are lucky, we get to take our dogs to places where they can run around off-leash and truly indulge in their ultimate dog-dom. Before summer hits full-swing, spring is a perfect time to spiff up your dog’s ability to come when called. But what if he doesn't come?
Do you have an attention problem or a motivation problem?
There are two main components of a successful recall: your ability to get your dog’s attention and your dog’s interest in returning to you. We often focus on one of these components and neglect the other. These are two sides of the same coin, and to truly have the best recall, we need to strengthen both independently.
If your dog doesn’t even turn around to look you when they hear “Come!” you have an attention problem. If your dog turns to look at you, but doesn’t move toward you, you have a motivation problem.
Name recognition is the first step to a solid recall. Obedience classes are full of attention exercises, only trained on a 6-foot leash, so many people think they have name recognition when they really don’t. By practicing it daily, in varying situations, and always pairing with high-value rewards, you can truly build reliability and value in name recognition in ways that will benefit a solid recall. This is important because almost all recalls happen when the dog is off-leash and more than 6 feet from you.
Ways to practice attention for recalls:
- Dog is stationary, 10 feet from you.
- Dog is stationary, 20-50 feet from you.
- Dog is stationary, 100 feet from you.
- Dog is stationary and sniffing
- Dog is facing away, moving slowly.
- Dog is facing away moving quickly.
- Dog is running full speed
- Dog is engaged in play/interaction
These are often ways that we want to practice our recalls, but it’s an important way to practice your dog’s name recognition. Calling a dog can often put a dog into conflict, since we are calling them away from something they are interested in. Focusing on rewarding name recognition before calling the dog allows us to build value in turning to look at you for more information. This behavior will ultimately benefit our recalls, and it doesn’t put the dog into conflict because you’re not asking him to leave an interesting activity. In training terms, this is called splitting criteria. We are separating the goal behavior into small attainable pieces and training those pieces individually.
So now that your dog is responding to his name in distracting situations, we need him to come running at full speed when he hears “Come!” Resolving motivation issues can drastically improve recall issues, so it’s important to know why you might have a motivation problem. Oftentimes students wait until their dog is at the dog run to practice their recalls, and this automatically puts the dog into conflict: Should I come to owner or play with friends? Starting with lots of practice in easy environments and high-value rewards will reap the most benefits, since it minimizes conflict. Also make sure to only furnish rewards after your dog has come to you, not showing them the treat or toy first. Think paycheck, not bribe. Plastic treat-baggie sounds and hands that hover near treat-pockets are bribes, and it will hurt your dog’s recall reliability if they get tuned into it before actually coming to you.
Reasons your dog isn’t motivated:
- Your rewards are low-value
- Not enough daily practice
- Over-use & desensitization of recall word
- Compliance leads to something dog dislikes (ie: leave dog park, come in house, give up sock)
Next time your dog doesn’t come to you, diagnose the issue by deciding if your dog had trouble with attention or motivation. This will help you focus your next training session and you’ll be well on your way to better recalls!
CHECK OUT THE SOCIALIZING YOUR FELLOW STUDENTS ARE DOING:
- Toby saw a school bus!
- Watson went to the library, a cafe, and Central Park!
- Elsie went to the train station, skate park and tennis courts!
- Daisy met the gardener, kids and saw a skateboarder!
- Suki saw lots of things with wheels!
The average puppy needs 3-4 field trips EVERY WEEK to NEW places to become adequately socialized.
If done correctly (NOVEL situations are PAIRED W/TREATS) socializing will help the friendliness and confidence they show as a puppy last and solidify as they become adults. Wariness and avoidance are natural survival instincts that will kick in as the dog ages, potentially causing shyness, fear, and aggression. Socialization helps reduce this natural tendency!
Your puppies need to meet an average of 25 new people every week, and an average of 8 new dogs every week. Let people know that you are there to socialize, bring your treats, and reward and praise every polite interaction your dog has. Don't take for granted a puppy's natural curiosity at this stage. It starts to fade by the time they are 14 weeks old!