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Colorado Professional Dog Trainer

Holiday Drop-Ins

Holiday Drop-Ins

Happy November!  It's hard to believe that Thanksgiving is barely 3 weeks away!  With the busy holiday season rapidly approaching, it's important to keep your dog's brain and energy engaged in a positive direction.  That way, your pup can be on his best behavior when the in-laws come to visit and you have one less thing to worry about!  

Don't have the time to commit to one of our 6 week classes?  No problem!  Come take advantage of one of our four holiday drop in classes:

Family Dog - This one hour class focuses on good behavior in the home and getting ready to get out in the community for your dog or older puppy!  You and your dog will learn specific skills like sit, down, stay, come, loose leash walking, greeting people and dogs calmly, and more!  For dogs and puppies over 6 months of age.  Class dates are Thursdays, November 17, December 1, December 8, and December 15 at 10:30am.  Click here to register.

Leave It! & Park It! Games -  Come practice your dog's recall, leave it, and settle skills in an hour of fun and good practice for your dog!  What better way to burn off some puppy energy before your holiday party than with this hour-long class!  No prerequisites - great for dogs over 6 months of age.  Class dates are Wednesdays, December 7 and 14 at 5:30pm.  Click here to register.

Fun/Foundation Agility -  Are you and your dog interested in getting started in the fun dog sport of Agility?  This hour-long drop-in class is a great way to give it a try - and to give your dog a fun activity during the busy holiday season!  Prerequisites:  Dogs must have basic skills such as heel, sit, down, stay, and come.  Class dates are Mondays, December 12 and 19 at 6:45pm.  Click here to register.  NOTE: Must have a minimum of 4 students registered to hold these drop-ins.

Rally -  During the holiday season, come in for an hour and learn new skills with your dog!  This class is more than just practice time, and your instructor will be teaching a different Rally lesson each week.  Great for new or more experienced students.  Preregistration is REQUIRED so that the instructor can design an appropriate lesson/course for all participants!  Class dates are Mondays, November 28, December 5, and December 12 at 5:30pm.  Click here to register.  

 

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us!  Or if you are interested in starting off the New Year on the right paw, check out our January schedule.  We look forward to seeing you soon!

fort-collins-dog-training-holiday-classes

Weekend Adventures & Helicopter Dog-Parenting

Weekend Adventures & Helicopter Dog-Parenting

This weekend we escaped to the mountains for a few days, trading in the 95+ degree days that Fort Collins experienced for cool mountain breezes and remnants of snow.  Of course, the dog came along, as did our adventurous friends Charissa and Tyler and their two pups, Dylon and Chip. 

fort-collins-backpacking-dog-osprey

We set off Friday night after work, drove two hours all the way through Rocky Mountain National Park, found our destination trail head, grabbed our packs and three leashes and hit the trail.  The plan was to hike 5.5 miles to a lake that first night . . . but as adventures are prone to do, it didn’t work out exactly the way we had intended.  

Eventually we were wandering around in the dark on a service road looking for the next part of the trail.  Definitely a great thing to do past 11:00 PM when we’re worn out, starting to get cold, and the dogs have just scared us half to death with an inquisitive incident too close to a gushing river culvert for comfort. 

We give up the search for the trail and find a campsite. Not perfect, but serviceable for the night.  Thank you, to whatever organization owned the dump truck and backhoe that provided us shelter from the wind and a barrier in case of early morning travelers on the service road.

Crazy kids.

Crazy kids.

The next day we continued the search for the trail, and finally decided that it was obscured by the rushing river and with three pups it would not be safe to attempt a crossing.  An alternate plan was decided on, and we made a camp, in a beautiful spot directly under the continental divide. 

The dogs romped in the swamp and streams, we sat in the sun and played cards, we all took naps in the middle of the day (can’t remember the last time I’ve gotten to do that!), and generally rested and enjoyed being out in the fresh air.  It wasn’t the 20 mile hiking loop that we had planned.  But this was perfect.

Being trail dogs is rough sometimes.

Being trail dogs is rough sometimes.

On the way back to the trail head the next day, Roo and Dylon enjoyed some off-leash scurries through the woods and brambles along the trail.  After a while, Roo started to venture further from the path to the right - in the direction of the river (and the very steep embankments leading down to it).  At this point, I started feeling a little bit like a helicopter parent: constantly worried about where he was, nagging, continuously asking him to check in with me. . . none of which thrilled him very much, and it wasn’t very relaxing and peaceful for me either!  Eventually I just put him back on leash for a bit so that I wasn’t constantly fussing with him.

Reflecting on this after our trip concluded, I have connected a few dots about this situation that have shed some light (although not excused) my downslide from relaxed off-leash moderator into overbearing dog-mom.  And I thought, “If I’m seeing this response in myself so easily, when I generally trust my dog off-leash and know the disadvantages of constantly fussing without a good reason, how easy it is for my clients to default to this type of communication with their dogs?”  

As far as I can tell, my micromanagement of my dog in this situation boils down to the emotion of fear, residual from the near-mishap that occurred in the dark on Friday night.  The horrifying images and feelings that come to mind when thinking of the “what-ifs” of that scenario are still uncomfortable, almost a week later, so it makes sense that not quite 2 days post-incident my brain would still be especially prone to anxious or fearful responses connected to some of the same stimuli.

This has been a helpful thing for me to remember, and recognize how it so easily infiltrated my attitude when interacting with my pup.  Without addressing the underlying emotions of anxiety and fear that we have with our dogs (in whatever scenario, due to whatever history), these emotions will have a significant impact on how we communicate, to the point of undermining our training goals. 

I am doing more thinking and researching on the impacts of emotions (good and bad) on our communication style, and how this can affect our experiences with our dogs, and plan to write more about this topic soon.  But in the mean time, I want to leave you with a challenge: if you find yourself being a “helicopter dog-parent,” look at the scenario.  What underlying feelings are causing you to feel the need to control every step your dog makes?  These feelings could be completely legitimate (“my dog is too friendly with kids and we’re walking by a playground and I’m scared he’ll jump up”), and I’m certainly not telling you to turn your dog loose without a second thought.  But just think about it.  You might just realize, like I did, that your anxiety is residual from a previous scenario and not directly because of the situation at hand.   

Good boy, Roo.  

Good boy, Roo.  

 

Origins

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Origins

While going through old computer archives this week in search of some good Rally-Obedience pictures (how on earth did I compete in Rally for 5+ years and not post a single picture on Facebook?), we uncovered some gems from the past that are a good representation of how much dogs have been a part of my life.

 

ARCHEX Coronado RL1X RL2X RL3X CGC

ARCHEX Coronado RL1X RL2X RL3X CGC

First, we have Coronado ("Cory"), the shelter dog I convinced my parents we needed; they acquiesced on one condition: "She's your responsibility, including training, walking, bathing, etc." No argument from me, and from the very first training class, I was hooked.  After the basic training classes, I joined a 4-H Dog Club, which, admittedly, was way more involved than I or my parents were expecting when I first signed up.  But looking back, the experiences with Fancy's Friends 4-H Dog Club were a critical part of my development - both with dogs and with other life skills like hard work, respect, community service, and more.  Cory and I competed together in Rally, Obedience, Agility, and Junior Showmanship, and won awards at the county and state 4-H levels.    

4-H Team Obedience competition.  The girl on the far end and the little boy (he's not so little any more) are my younger siblings with their dogs! 

4-H Team Obedience competition.  The girl on the far end and the little boy (he's not so little any more) are my younger siblings with their dogs! 

As I started to do more with dogs, I really wanted to compete in AKC events (this was before mixed breeds were permitted in performance events), and one of my 4-H leaders offered me co-ownership of her Australian Shepherd, Jasmine.   

Sweep's Spiritwood Jasmine RN CD TDI CGC

Sweep's Spiritwood Jasmine RN CD TDI CGC

I started working with Jasmine when she was 7 years old, and together we competed in AKC Junior Showmanship, titled in Rally, and Obedience.  She was so much fun, and I learned a lot through working with her.

After I advanced to Open Showmanship with Jasmine, I started using Jasmine's house-mate, Gracie, for showmanship competitions.  I learned a lot while showing Gracie; with Cory and Jasmine, it only took a sliver of bait or a squeaky toy to get their attention, but with independent Gracie I was taught to be more creative, more compassionate, and more convincing then I had needed to previously.  

AKC/UKC Ch Dreammaker's Forget Me Knot TDI CGC

AKC/UKC Ch Dreammaker's Forget Me Knot TDI CGC

At some point, I told my parents that I really, really, really wanted a puppy.  With my previous project dogs being older when we started working together, I hadn't enjoyed the "fresh start" training with a puppy yet.  Again, my parents agreed on one condition, this time that: "You raise the money to buy the puppy and you can get one."  My dad jokes now that if he had known it would only take me two months to gather the funds, he might not have agreed so quickly :).  

Enter Roo, a red-tri Australian Shepherd from Equinox Aussies.

Since the first day that I brought this little guy home, almost 8 years ago now, Roo has been my constant companion and adventure buddy.  

We have competed and titled in rally, obedience, conformation, agility, and, most recently, dog parkour.  We even got an AKC group placement when Roo was 8 months old! 

ARCHEX AKC/UKC Ch Equinox Jump For Joy RE CGC RL1X RL2X RL3

ARCHEX AKC/UKC Ch Equinox Jump For Joy RE CGC RL1X RL2X RL3

But as awesome and exciting as all of those achievements were, I think my favorite adventures with Roo are the outdoor experiences that we are both love so much.  Since moving to Colorado in August 2015, these adventures have been in the beautiful Rocky Mountains.  

These fresh air adventures are not just fun and healthy; they are also bonding experiences that solidify our friendship and continue to build our relationship together.  This bond that grows when we are together is what I love most about having my dog involved in so many aspects of my life.  

That's the line up of fantastic dogs that have put up with me over the years.  Cory, Jasmine, and Gracie are romping together over Rainbow Bridge now, but the things they taught me are part of their legacy.  Roo is still putting up with me, and I am excited about all the future adventures we still have together.

   

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Why Summit Dog Training? • Fort Collins Dog Trainer • Northern Colorado Positive Dog Training

Why Summit Dog Training? • Fort Collins Dog Trainer • Northern Colorado Positive Dog Training

At Summit Dog Training, we believe in adventures.  We believe in fresh air, sunshine, mountains, and deep breaths.  

We also believe that no adventure is quite complete without a four-legged companion by our side. Dogs tend to enjoy every moment of every adventure in a way that is infectious.  If we follow their lead, this natural enthusiasm can enhance our sometimes less-perfect human enjoyment and encourage us to be more present, more free, and more mindful at every step of each experience.  

I caught this infectious excitement about experiencing life from my Australian Shepherd, Roo, almost 8 years ago now.  His enthusiasm and energy for all things outside and active has kept me on my toes since I first brought him home.  Even today as an official canine senior citizen, when we are backpacking together he does about three times as many miles as I do, running back and forth between the exotic new smells and scenery and his human family.  This enthusiasm never fails to make me smile like the crazy dog person I am, and every time it reminds me why dogs are a wonderful addition to all types of adventures.     

But in order for humans and dogs to fully enjoy outings together, there are some skills necessary on both ends of the leash.  This is the mission and passion of Summit Dog Training: helping dogs and their owners prepare for doing awesome things together, whether that is a peaceful walk in the park or hiking off leash in the beautiful back country of the Rocky Mountains.  These adventures are founded on friendship, trust, and effective communication between dog and human, and this is something that is attainable for all dogs and their people!    

We believe that dogs enrich our lives and our adventures, and, in turn, that inclusion in our adventures also enriches the lives of our dogs.  Are you and your dog ready for a new adventure?