,September 28, 2021
Being outdoors has always been something I have enjoyed. Growing up, my mom and I would spend weeks out camping in our tent…..thank you teacher schedule! There was such a grounding feeling that accompanied our camping adventures. Unfortunately, this feeling is one I quickly forgot until our recent move to the Northwoods….where I spend most of the day outside. Previously, we lived in the middle of town and the time we spent outside consisted of public parks and walks on paved roads with people and cars going by. This was the reality for our dogs as well and although I am a dog trainer, I did not realize all that I was truly depriving my dogs of. Just like me, my dogs feel grounded being out in nature. I see this through their pure excitement to go explore and the shift in their mindset since incorporating more nature into their day to day lives. They are all around, much calmer and even more confident it seems. It is not just me noticing the many amazing effects of being out in nature, according to a study done at Stanford University, when we (dogs and humans) walk in a natural area, as opposed to a high-traffic area, there is decreased activity in the part of the brain associated with depression. Additionally, when we breathe in fresh air, more oxygen is sent to our brain, in turn boosting the levels of serotonin (a neurotransmitter that alters your mood).
You do not need to make a move to the Northwoods to get out in nature more (although it helps!), simply find a local park or hiking trail that you and your dog are welcome at and spend some time exploring….your mind, your soul, and most importantly, your dog, will thank you!
September 16, 2021
Our dogs' noses are up to 100,000 times more accurate than ours, making it by far their most important sense. Because it is so powerful, a dog in a good state of mind will rely heavily on it. This is a very natural instinct for them. When a dog is not relying on their nose it is unnatural and usually an indication that they are not in a calm, carefree state of mind. If a dog is not relying on their nose, they will instead rely on their eyes. A dog who is using sight more than scent will have a tendency to track things with their eyes...such as airplanes, laser pointers, birds, leaves, and even the T.V. Although these behaviors seem harmless, it can lead to bigger problems. The laser pointer for example, if you have your pup chase the laser pointer around a room, when you decide to stop, for you the game is over but for your pup the game is still going on, causing your dog to frantically search for it everywhere all the time. This is also demonstrated with shadows, when they see them and then they don’t, they don’t understand that they are simply not there. Maintaining your dog’s calm and stable state of mind requires you to intervene when you see any of these behaviors taking hold, you should direct your dogs attention elsewhere with a toy, calling them to you, a down stay, etc. In addition, you can also encourage them to use their nose more by playing scent games like tossing food or treats around a room or open space and letting them find it, hiding treats in boxes or containers for them to find, or even just allowing more off leash freedom (if you are able to safely do so) so they can wander and sniff as they please. If your dog is leaning more towards sight versus scent, monitor the shift in their mindset as you push them to utilize their nose more….you will be surprised the difference it will make!
August 18, 2021
There are a lot of different opinions in the dog training community….pure positive or balanced, euthanize aggressive cases or help them, use training tools or don’t use training tools, all raw food or kibble, offer board and trains or don’t offer board and trains, and believe me, the list goes on! The ONE thing most trainers agree on, no matter what the training program is, is that you need to follow through with training your pup, after the training is done. There is no cure-all program that will magically take your dog from point A to point B with little to no work required by the owner. I always compare it to working out...I have never met a person who can consistently work out for two weeks or even six weeks and then sit on the couch the rest of their life and maintain the same physique. It is impossible. I have four personal dogs and all four require consistent follow through training...and I train dogs for a living!
Following through doesn’t mean you need to set aside two hours each day to train your dog, it means you need to invest the same amount of time as you did money into your dogs training. Check out one of our previous blogs about training as you live, there you will find different ways to implement training into your daily life. On top of training throughout your day to day life, you should talk with your trainer about meeting with them periodically after your training is done (many trainers offer unlimited follow up training, Canine Evolution included, take advantage of that!). Periodically meaning, preset dates….not just when something goes horribly wrong. This will help to ensure that you are not falling back into old patterns with your dog, as well as help you address any small problem you’re having while it is small versus allowing it to escalate into something bigger. Just like my four dogs require follow through, they require another trainer's eye once in a while! I’ve had many conversations with other trainers about my dog's behaviors and if what I was doing was correct or if they had a better idea. Your trainer is like your car mechanic…..you initially met because you had a problem and they addressed it. Now you need to head on in for your regular “maintenance”.
August 7, 2021
Ahhh affection….one of the most common causes for poor dog behavior…….and one of the most rewarding praises after a job well done. To maintain a healthy, well balanced dog, you need to monitor the amount of affection you give and the times you give it out. Understandably, there is a lot of confusion between the right amount of affection and the right timing of the affection.
There are very specific times when you want affection to be handed out; a good training session, overcoming a big hurdle (touching a vacuum when scared of it for example), or even just demonstrating a calm and stable mindset. When you use affection in those moments, you are telling your dog that they did a good job and should be doing that behavior, much like a high five you see in a sports game. Your dog also views it as a reward or “good job” and is then encouraged to continue doing whatever behavior got them the affection.
However, when we start to give affection as a comfort to them in a stressful situation, we are now seeing that anxiety and nervous energy escalate. There are two ways you may see an escalation of nervous energy or anxiety. The first being, the reaction they are giving you becomes more severe, from whining at a person they are nervous of, to eventually growling. Second, the behavior extends to more and more things and/or people, originally it was just a fear of bikes and now it is a fear of all moving things. We see an escalation in behaviors and a broadening of fears because when we pet our dogs in those moments, they still view it as praise, essentially it is us telling them the behavior they are doing is okay and they should be uncomfortable or nervous. We aren’t able to talk with our dogs and explain we are really just trying to comfort them. The best thing to do in situations your dog is scared or uncomfortable, is teach them how to handle those emotions….ask them to sit or lay down or even just walk towards you. This approach also gets their mind thinking about something else and not just focusing on the thing they are scared of.
Next time you go to pet your dog, ask yourself….do I like the behavior my dog is doing or do I dislike this behavior? Your answer to that one question will help you decide if it is a moment for affection or not!
Training As You Live
Training As You Live
July 21, 2021
As my life has become busier and my pack has grown, I have found myself solidifying my belief in training as you live. Training as you live simply means adding different mentally challenging exercises into the activities you are already doing for the day versus setting aside specific time just for training. It would be ideal if we could sit and train our dogs for three consecutive hours each day but unfortunately for most it is not (kudos to you if you can!). On the days you aren’t able to set aside specific time to train your pup, you don’t want to deprive them of the mental exercise they need or have them regress in their training because of the inconsistency. Keep it simple, find things that fit flawlessly into your daily routine and consistently implement them. Below are some ideas for you to start training as you live today!
Scatter meals throughout a designated area, or utilizing a meal dispensing toy
My pups enjoy when I throw their dry kibble around on the driveway outside but if you are fine with a little mess, you can scatter it around in your home as well. Some people also find success with buying a meal dispensing toy and teaching their dog how to use it.
Sit, wait, and make eye contact before eating their meals
This one is a little bit more tricky but you are practicing multiple different skills in just one sitting. It also helps them have an overall respect for you and your authority.
Changing speeds during the walk
No this is not just an excuse to walk slower instead of running! When you go from a sprint, to a jog, to a leisurely walk, your dog is having to use more brain power to focus on not breaking heel versus just going at one pace the whole time.
Come and sit/down
Next time you get up to walk from the couch to the fridge to grab a drink, tell your dog to come, put them in a sit stay or down stay when you get to the fridge, and repeat the process on the way back. You can do this anytime you are moving around your house…..cleaning is my favorite time!
After a long day of work, most people like to kick their feet up and relax. Take two minutes to put your dog in place before you sit down and now you are training with little to no effort! Even though it doesn’t seem like they are doing much, place is hard for your dog and is vital to maintain their calm mindset. You can also do place when you are working in your office, cooking dinner, etc.
Waiting at doors
Every single time my dogs go in or out of a door I make them all sit and wait until I call them through individually. For one, it helps make sure we don’t have a complete cluster bolting through the door into roads or neighbors. Two, it is so unbelievably easy to implement…..you are going through the door anyway!
Modify this list however it fits best into your daily routine to make it most effective, these are just some things that work for me and my pups!
To Starting Again
To Starting Again
Ju;ly 16, 2021
First and foremost, I apologize for the lack of blog posts in the past year and a half. Life got a bit hectic for Canine Evolution and I...there has been a broken ankle, along with surgery, which took me off my feet for about four months, then a move three hours North when I was barely walking (thank you Mom for packing our stuff while I directed from my seat!). I received my real estate license, something I have always had an interest in and finally decided to give it a shot, I then started working with a local real estate agency here in Manitowish Waters. Our living situation was also VERY hectic, we had planned to move into a home...we did not actually move in to said home. Then we bought land with the intentions of renovating a cabin…..we were not able to renovate said cabin. We are now in the process of building a home within a shed that was already on the land we bought...thank goodness for an adventurous boyfriend who happens to be handy enough to build our WHOLE home!
On top of all of that, I am still working hard to expand my reach and help as many dogs as possible here in the Northwoods. There have already been a number of new guests to the website and almost all commented on how great the free information on the blog page was….hence the push to get it started again! I have always wanted Canine Evolution to be solely about helping dogs and by providing free information throughout our social media pages and blog posts I think it is helping more dogs than I even realize. Going forward, I will be posting blogs as frequently as I can and would love to hear if there is a request for any particular topic!
Stay tuned...I promise there is more to come!
MORE WAYS TO BEAT VIRUS BLUES
MORE WAYS TO BEAT VIRUS BLUES
April 13, 2020
At this point, you and your dog have spent A LOT of quality time together and probably are getting sick of the regular quarantine routine.......or maybe just one of you! Either way, we are going to give you some more ideas to add to your collection of fun mental stimulation games! These activities are perfect to challenge your dog and get them thinking, it also keeps them busy for a little bit which can be much needed during this time!
MEAL DISPENSING TOYS
There are toys you can purchase that hold your dogs meal and dispense it as they move it around, such as the Kong Wobbler. The Kong Wobbler has sand on the bottom and a twist on top with a small hole in it, you put your dogs food inside and twist the top and bottom together, then your dog moves it around and the food comes out. If you don't want to spend money on yet another toy for your pup, you can take items from around your house. My dog doesn't eat too much so his cup of food fits nicely in a soda bottle, I take off the cap and the plastic ring and let him move it around and get his meal. If your dogs meal is a bit bigger you can use a milk jug (cleaned out), take off the top and plastic ring, poke some holes in it that the kibble can come out of (with it being a different shape than a soda bottle it can be harder), and let your dog go to town. This will not only give them something to do but it will challenge them to figure out how they can get their food.
TREAT DISPENSING TOYS
Just like toys that dispense your dogs meal, you can get toys that dispense their treats. There are many different toys but the one I use most consistently is the original Kong toy. Again, you can be resourceful and find things to put your dog's treats in around your house; such as a broken tennis ball, you cut a hole in it, put some treats in, and let your pup have fun!
For this game, you will simply need an open space and either your dog's food or treats depending on how food motivated they are. This can get messy so be sure to do this in a space you don't mind a little extra food and slobber! Simply take whichever food (kibble or treats) you decided on using and scatter it around the room. Then, let your dog find all the food! You can add more rules to the game (sit while food is scattered, use a command to release them to find food, etc.). You can also increase difficulty by hiding the food versus just scattering it on the floor.
We hope these games can give you and your pups something to do during this time! Have fun!
April 3, 2020
Recently, I was sitting down on the floor and Theodore (my dog) began bringing me toy after toy. He would simply set a toy on the floor next to me and be off again to find another. Once he had gathered all the toys he could find, he came and sat next to me. At this point, I still wasn't paying much attention to what he was doing, I was consumed with my own thoughts. He then did something I had seen him do many times before, he lifted his paw up and set it on my arm as if to tell me he knew I wasn't in the right mindset and that he was there for me. Of course, this brought a smile to my face and all the things that previously occupied my mind seemed to fade. Before I even realized I wasn't at my best, Theo had felt the shift in my mindset and begun helping me. This experience solidified everything I believe about how perceptive dogs truly are to our energy and mindset. A lesson such as this, is one I strive to carry with me every single time I interact with a dog. With that being said, spending every day with your dog is not the same as just seeing them for training purposes, it is not possible to feel your very best every single moment. However, I strongly urge you to put everything else in your life aside when you're interacting with your dog; cuddling on the couch, going for a walk, or doing a training session. You will notice as you leave these thoughts behind you, your mindset and energy will change. Because of those changes with your mindset, you will become more calm and patient when interacting with your dog. That is the version of you they respond to best and most importantly the version of you that they deserve. Sometimes, this shift in mindset can make all the difference in the success of a dogs training as well!
CRATE TRAINING BASICS
CRATE TRAINING BASICS
March 27, 2020
For the safety and well being of your dog, it is necessary that you help them understand how they should behave in the kennel. Even if you do not kennel your dog in your home, many other places will; such as vets, groomers and boarding facilities. When they do have to be put in a kennel we want them to be as calm and comfortable as possible.
Your dogs kennel should be their safe space. Somewhere they go when they feel unsure or even just tired. This DOES NOT mean your dog should be cowering to their kennel when they get scared, it simply means if they do not like what is going on they can calmly wander there. For example, my oldest dog does not really enjoy when people come over anymore (can't say I blame her!). However, when they do she will greet them and then wander downstairs to her kennel. If your dog is struggling with associating their kennel with a calm space these are some things to try. You can absolutely try these things even if your dog does not struggle with their kennel!
Create a line of treats leading into your dogs kennel. Once they get into the kennel give a BIG reward. Make them stay in the kennel until you give the release word for them to come out (you can ask for a sit or down or simply block them from coming out until they quit trying to get through) then reward when they release. Increase the difficulty as they begin to understand the game by opening and shutting the door or leaving them in the crate longer and longer.
Dogs are den animals, so they feel safer and more protected when they are covered. To help make their kennel more of a den, you can drape blankets over the sides of their kennel. I personally leave the door of the kennel uncovered but you can also cover the door if you find it beneficial for your dog.
Meals In Kennel
For many dogs, the best time of the day is meal time. If their best time of the day is in their kennel they will learn to LOVE going in it! Feeding your dog in their kennel can also be helpful to get them on a regular eating schedule and keep them out of their siblings food dishes. Something to watch out for is accidents in the crate, you need to make sure you know how long your dog can hold their bladder after eating to prevent this. This time can vary depending on the size and age of the dog. Instead of meals you can also give them a toy filled with food in their kennel. The toy I recommend is The Kong. You can put in many different things, which can be found with a simple Google search!
The biggest thing to remember when crate training your dog is to NEVER use it as punishment or as a time-out. This is a place they should feel safe and comfortable!
MENTAL STIMULATION GAMES TO BEAT VIRUS BLUES
MENTAL STIMULATION GAMES TO BEAT VIRUS BLUES
March 18, 2020
Due to the current circumstances, many of us are spending a lot more time in or around our homes. We know how challenging this can be for humans and dogs alike; because of this, we want to provide as many safe AND fun things we can! Today, we are going to give you a few mental games to play with your dog (in your home, yard, garage, etc.) these games will not only give your dog something to do, but you as well. We hope one, or all, of these games give you a little distraction and a big smile!
MUFFIN TIN WITH TENNIS BALLS
1. Place food (or treats) on the bottom of muffin tin. Only fill as many spots as you have tennis balls.
2. Place tennis balls on top of food.
3. Invite your dog to find the food!
1. Place 3 cups on the floor and have your dog sit in front of them.
2. Place a treat or piece of their food under one of the cups.
3. Move the cups around to switch places.
4 Release your dog and watch them try to find the food!
*You can use bowls in place of cups*
BOX IN A BOX
1. Gather 3 or 4 different size boxes. Be sure they can all fit inside each other.
2. Place a treat in the smallest box and then put ALL boxes inside of each other, biggest to smallest.
3. Release your dog and watch them try take apart the boxes!
*THE SMALL PIECES OF THE BOX CAN BE A CHOKING HAZARD! MONITOR YOUR DOG!*
These are just a few games out there, get creative! You can also find so many more with a quick search! We've got more fun things to do in the upcoming weeks!
March 11, 2020
In the past couple months, I have talked to a lot of brand new puppy owners. They typically ask questions about what they may be struggling with (potty training, basic manners, etc.) however, I recently got a question about how to simply set your dog off on the right foot and I thought this was a great question! In my opinion, I think the best thing you can do for your puppy is introduce them to ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING (desensitize them)! Now, to be clear, this is not the only thing that you should do to get the "perfect" pup but it is absolutely something that should not be overlooked! Having your dog comfortable with their surroundings, other people, and other dogs, gives them a better mindset. This mindset will then be transferred to other aspects of their daily life and training. It is much easier to teach a fourteen week old puppy how to be social, than a four year old adult dog who has never seen another dog in his life!
For socializing with people, I recommend you get your dog out to stores that allow dogs and have strangers come and pet him/her. This is where you can practice other aspects of shaping that "perfect" pup; ask that they refrain from petting your pup (as difficult as this may be) until your dog is sitting nicely and is calm. In the long run, this will teach your dog that in order to get the affection/reward they want they must have good manners and a good mindset
For socializing your dog with other dogs, I would suggest getting your dog around other dogs who you know will not harm them, but not just their housemate(s). If you do not have access to those kinds of dogs I would recommend looking into different doggy daycare options or even local dog parks, however DO YOUR RESEARCH!! I have heard one too many horror stories from both doggy daycares and dog parks. If I do go to a dog park; I go when I know not many people will be there and I advocate for my dog.... without being a helicopter parent! Some of the interactions are needed to teach your dog how to stand up for themselves and you will also see older dogs tell your pup no that is not polite or no I do not want to play. These are great things for your pup to learn, however if the interaction is too much or they will not stop I intervene and get the other dog away from my dog or simply leave the park. With doggy daycare I would highly recommend you tour the facility and ask questions like; how many dogs are allowed on any given day, how many people are supervising the dogs and see where the dogs will be playing.
For desensitizing your pup to objects, you should go out of your way to get them on different floor textures, carpet, hardwood, concrete, etc. Throw metal bowls around and let them become comfortable with the loud noises, when the Fourth of July roles around you will be very grateful for this! Also, have your dogs smell the mop or the broom your using, even have them walk around with you (on leash) while you are sweeping or vacuuming. There are so many other things to expose your dog to, you can find some other ideas online with a simple Google search or just get creative!
March 3, 2020
As we leave the brutal winter weather behind us (hopefully!) we can begin to take our pups on more adventures! My dogs and I LOVE to visit local walking/hiking trails, especially after a winter of being cooped up inside! Taking your dogs to these places is a great way to get their daily exercise. It is also an amazing relationship builder for you and your pup, you are working together to navigate the trails and practicing polite manners on leash!
Here are a few of the trails we love to visit......
- High Cliff State Park (many different trails within the park)
- Newton Blackmour State Trail
- Stone Bridge Trail
- Wiouwash State Trail
There are a couple important things to remember when visiting these trails. First, you must pick up after your pup, we want our dogs to continue to have access to these trails and leaving their messes does not leave a good impression. Most importantly, your dog should ALWAYS be on a leash, there is wildlife that your dog could potentially go after, as well as other dogs/people. Some of these trails do run along busy roads and by having your dog on leash you are able to prevent them from wandering on to the road. Following these rules will allow us to keep enjoying the trails with our dogs!