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April is Canine Fitness Month!

April is Canine Fitness Month!

Guest post by Jennifer Holmes, a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT), a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner (CCRP), and a Fit Paws - Master Trainer (FP-MT).  Her company, K9FitnessWorks, offers group classes & private lessons specializing in canine fitness.

April is National Canine Fitness Month!  What is Canine fitness?

You may have seen articles, Facebook posts, or seminars on canine fitness.  What is it?  Why would my dog want to take a fitness class or even go to a Certified Canine Fitness Trainer?

Fitness by definition is the quality of being conditioned physically to perform a role or task in life.  When we think of our fitness it brings up images of the gym, outdoor activities, or working with a trainer for a specific sport purpose.  Fitness can also be a way to improve muscle, tendon, and nerve health so you and your dog can function at the highest health capacity in your favorite activities. 

Ryder loves Canine Fitness!

Ryder loves Canine Fitness!

It fills my heart with passion to talk about the benefits of a creative, fun exercise plan for your pup and you to bond.  In the 70s and 80s I taught my dogs to sit, down, and shake because it was fun time with my dog.  I did not realize I was also teaching them body awareness.   Body awareness is the dog knowing where it’s body is in a certain space. Why is this important?  When your dog runs for a ball or catch a Frisbee in the air their body spins and twist in different directions.  If their muscles are trained to handle the speed and spins they will safely grab the ball or catch the Frisbee.  When their muscles are not conditioned because they have been in the house and yard all week then you play on the weekend, your dog can have muscle, tendon, or disk injuries during spins to catch their favorite toy.  As a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner since 2012, I have seen the various injuries that can occur during innocent ball throwing. The biggest impact owners can do for their dogs is a creative exercise plan to strengthen up their muscles, tendons, and nerves.

3 tips you can do RIGHT. NOW. to improve your dog body awareness:

1.     A quick couple minute warmup before ball or Frisbee play by a quick brisk walk to wake the body up, stimulate the nerves, and improve muscle reaction time.

2.     A few repeated sit-to-stand exercises to warm up key muscles they will use to play ball or catch the Frisbee.  (Cue your dog to sit, then cue them to stand, then back to sit, etc.)

3.     Throwing the ball or Frisbee straight to limit the amount of twisting they have to do while in action to catch the toy.

Echo & Ryder balance like pros - working on those core muscles that will help them avoid injury in agility!

Echo & Ryder balance like pros - working on those core muscles that will help them avoid injury in agility!

At Summit Dog Training, we offer fitness classes to help you help your dog have the fittest life they can!  Our Intro to Fitness class covers warmups, cool downs, and more creative ways to strengthen your dog for play.  I also offer 1-on-1 fitness sessions to create a specific plan for you and your pup to live a long happy life.

The next Intro to Fitness classes will be starting Saturday, May 13th at 9:00am & Saturday, June 17th at 10:00am.  Check out the Summit Dog Training website for more info!  In honor of Canine Fitness Month, we are offering 10% off fitness class tuition through April 30th.  Use promo code APRILFIT.

A couple of students from our last Intro to Fitness class had this to say:

“Thanks Jennifer! It was a super fun class.” - Shelley

“Echo and I just finished a series of 6 weeks in Jennifer's Canine Sport Dog Fitness Class. By the end of the classes I gained so much knowledge on how to strengthen and assess Echo's body condition. It was so much fun working with Jennifer and I would highly recommend her talents to all dog owners whether in a canine sporting event or just with a family pet.” - Barb

February is the Month of LOVE

February is the Month of LOVE

Our dogs are a huge part of our lives, and they shower us with love all year long.  Here are three ideas for how to show your special four-legged someone how much they mean to you this month!  
 

  1. Go on a "Micro-Adventure" together.  These mini adventures are one of our favorite things to build a positive relationship with our dogs.  They don't have to be long or elaborate, just simple things that you can do together, like running errands, taking an extra walk to the park, or just riding around in the car.  I just did this with my dog today - he got to ride with me to the grocery store, stop by Kriser's Natural Pet, drop by the training facility, and then end it with lots of attention at the bank.  He loved it, and he's sound asleep now!  We wrote more about micro-adventures in this blog; check it out for more ideas!
     
  2. Get them a new toy!  But not just any toy - one that will challenge them mentally as well as physically!  One of our favorite categories of toys are food puzzles.  We wrote all about them in this blog post; check it out to see which option your pup might light best!
     
  3. Teach them a new trick!  Our dogs get so excited to learn new things with us!  And their "trick" skills are often the most exciting and reinforcing to our dogs, because we get so excited about them too!  Teaching your dog something new can be as simple or elaborate as you want, but either way it's sure to be a fun time for both of you!  I just taught my dog Roo some new tricks and he loved it!

These are just a few ideas for making this month a great month for you and your dog!  If you come up with other great ideas, we want to hear about them!  Tag us in your adventures on Facebook or Instagram and use #SDTmonthoflove so we can share in your excitement!

Why We LOVE Clicker Expo

Why We LOVE Clicker Expo

It has been a crazy (good kind, I think) week coming off of one of the biggest events of the year in the life of many positive reinforcement dog trainers: Clicker Expo 2017 in Portland, OR.  Over three days of dog nerds from around the country geeking out together to the genius of the gods of the positive reinforcement training world, an impressive lineup including Ken Ramirez, Dr. Susan Friedman, Kathy Sdao, Hannah Branigan, and so many more!  

Charissa and I came back from this immersion with lots of new ideas and inspirations.  Some of these ideas may not seem so practical once we come down off the CE high induced by exposure to the greats of our industry and a significant lack of sleep, but we'll see.  It was a wonderful trip.

Attending training conferences also never fails to inspire me to fine tune my training with my own dog.  Roo is a wonderful pup, and as much of my time and energy is devoted to helping other humans and their dogs build positive relationships together, he often gets the short end of the stick.  But after Kathy Sdao encouraged us to consider taking more time to do activities that "keep our candle burning," I am trying to be more intentional about spending time with my own heart dog - he is, after all, one of the reasons I love training as much as I do!

The first concept I put into action was based on Hannah Branigan's presentation "High Precision, High Scores."  In this lecture, she broke down the behaviors sit, down and stand and discussed how to get the precision movements you need in order to offer peak performance in the obedience and rally ring.  I decided I should go back and take a look at how my dog performs the "sit" behavior to see if he was doing it the most efficient (and precise) way.  Turns out, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but still could use a little bit of improvement!  Here's our first session working on this.  I am selecting for a "tucked" sit where his hind legs come up to meet his stationary front legs instead of a "rock-back" sit where his front feet follow his rear back.

So sorry for the terrible video quality!  Can't seem to fix it, but if you want to see this clip in better quality, check it out on our instagram feed here.

Next, we tried some concept training, inspired by Ken Ramirez's lab on this topic.  We started with Match to Sample, which is teaching the dog to indicate the object that is the same as the object you present to them.  Roo had this concept in less than a 10 minute training session, and I started introducing novel objects as well.  This game is built on other skills (follow a target, settle at station, respond to a cue, etc.) that we have worked on previously.  Check this out!

How cool is that?!  Can't wait to see what else he learns next.

These are just a few of the fun tidbits we brought back from Clicker Expo.  We can't wait to improve our class curriculum, our behavior modification protocols, and our client interactions based on our new ideas.  Learning new things helps us to be the best that we can be, and we can't wait to pass along that benefit to our students and their dogs!

Happy clicking!

Puzzle Me, Please

Puzzle Me, Please

In the world of dog toys, there are literally thousands to choose from.  Plush, rubber, rope, firehose, rawhide, hooves, (and other less classy animal body parts!) . . . and the list goes on.  It can be a little overwhelming to think about narrowing it down to the type of toy that will provide the most benefit for your dog.

The toy with the most benefit is not always the same thing as the toy with the most fun.  My dog has TONS of fun with plush toys . . . and by TONS, I mean about 30 seconds no matter what the starting size of the toy.  But this brief and frenzied shredding of toy guts is not providing my crazy pup with any longer lasting benefits, such as the relaxation that comes after the stimulation of a mental challenge.  Like my pup Roo, many dogs thrive most with play that gives them an outlet for both their mental and physical energy.  

For that end goal, my favorite category of toys is food puzzles!  These toys provide an outlet for both parts of your dog that need attention - for the physical side, chasing a food puzzle around the floor is a great indoor outlet; for the mental component, figuring out how to get the food reward hidden or stuck inside the puzzle is much more challenging than ripping up a flimsy plush toy!

A few of my pup's favorite types of food puzzles! Kong Classics, Kong Wobbler, Orbee Snoop, and Trixie Puzzle Boxes.

A few of my pup's favorite types of food puzzles! Kong Classics, Kong Wobbler, Orbee Snoop, and Trixie Puzzle Boxes.

Our go-to favorite is (and might always be) the Kong Classics. Coming in multiple sizes, rubber strengths, and shape variations, these toys are great for stuffing and very portable.  Our favorite way to use them is mixing peanut butter and yogurt and placing the freezer for a few hours.  This creates a cool treat that takes a while to work out!  The Kong Wobbler is another favorite - Roo gets at least one of his meals each day in this toy, and has to push it around (I put it in his crate to keep the crumbs contained) to get the kibble to fall out.  I highly recommend this version for dogs that are hyperactive around meal times!

One of the recent additions to our favorites list is the Orbee Snoop made by Planet Dog.  This soft rubber toy is also great for feeding kibble or small treats.  Roo knocks his around the house and enjoys this variation on his Kong Wobbler meal.  

For supervised play (I recommend supervising your dog whenever you introduce a new toy, but the following toys should involve a little extra oversight), puzzle boxes are a great way to mix it up for your dog!  These challenges involve pulling, pushing, knocking, and otherwise navigating a toy to get individual pieces (or jackpots here and there) out of the toy.  There are a lot of different types of these games.   A client recently gave me two Trixie Activity Boxes, so Roo got to give something new a try!  Here is his first introduction on video.  He loved the challenge!

Roo got to try out a Trixie Poker Box Food Puzzle for the first time this past week! Here are the highlights!

Whatever type of food puzzle you choose, introduce it to your dog in a way that makes their first attempt at the toy very reinforcing so they are excited to keep playing with it!  And if your dog doesn't like a particular type of puzzle, there are lots of different ones to try.  The most important thing to consider is what gives your dog the most benefit on top of some fun!

Happy puzzling! 

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!

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Shelter Dog 101 - New Class!

Shelter Dog 101 - New Class!

Summit Dog Training Associate Trainer Charissa Beaubien KPA-CTP, CPDT-KA (read full bio here!) has a passion for helping shelter dogs transition smoothly into their forever homes.

Charissa with her own shelter pup, Dylon.

Charissa with her own shelter pup, Dylon.

Through past shelter experience as well as in her current capacity as the Behavioral Technician for Humane Society of Weld County, Charissa has seen first hand how timely and applicable training advice can make the difference between a rescue dog staying with their adoptive family or being returned to the shelter.  In order to assist more rescue pups and their new families, we are adding a new class to the schedule: Shelter Dog 101.  This four week course is specifically designed for the needs of shelter dogs making the transition to "normal" life in a loving family.  Many shelter dogs come with challenges that other dogs don't always face, like separation anxiety, destructive chewing, potty training, and understanding polite play and social manners.  This course provides a way for new adoptive families to get support specifically for these issues, as well as get started bonding with their new shelter pup, in a fun and supportive class setting.  

Adopting a dog from a shelter is a wonderful choice, but can be a significant financial investment depending on the physical and mental health of the dog.  This class is a way for us to make training more accessible to adoptive families and get everyone started off on the right track!  If you are interested in the class, pick up a coupon from your dog's Northern Colorado rescue (we'll be distributing those very soon!) or send Charissa an email with a copy of your dog's adoption papers and we'll send you a coupon directly!   

Puppy In The Park

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Puppy In The Park

I just need to brag about some great students for a minute! Over the summer months, we met weekly in City Park, Fort Collins, for Puppy In The Park drop-in class.  This class was for graduates of my Puppy Basics and Puppy Confidence classes who were looking for extra opportunities to practice the skills they learned in new and more challenging environments.  And let me tell you, between baseball games, family reunion gatherings, and distracted PokemonGo players wandering through our makeshift classroom, the learning environment at City Park has certainly provided lots of great challenges!  

Cassie's mom sent me these pictures from one of the classes, and looking through them made me so proud!  These pups have all made great progress since we've started working!

Cassie the Australian Cattle Dog

Cassie the Australian Cattle Dog

Ryder the Australian Cattle Dog

Ryder the Australian Cattle Dog

Anaali the Golden Doodle

Anaali the Golden Doodle

Briar the Labrador Retriever

Briar the Labrador Retriever

Stinson the Hungarian Puli

Stinson the Hungarian Puli

Chief the German Shepherd

Chief the German Shepherd

Great job, everyone!  Keep doing fun things with your pups!

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Two Seminars Coming Up In Fort Collins!

Summit Dog Training is partnering with Kriser's Natural Pet in Fort Collins to offer two different seminars in July.

Monday, July 18th will be Hiking with Your Dog 101 from 6-7pm.  Come learn about a variety of equipment options, foundation skills, and safety tips that will make hiking with your dog an enjoyable experience for everyone involved!

Monday, July 25th will be What to Expect When You Are Expecting . . . A Puppy! from 6-7pm.  If you are thinking about adding a puppy to your family in the near future, this seminar is a great way to get lots of info in one place!  Topics include house training, puppy chewing, basic manners, and more!

For both seminars, please RSVP to amber@summitdogtraining.com to reserve your spot.  You can also sign up online.  The cost for each seminar is $5, and 100% of the proceeds from these events will go to benefit Animal Rescue of the Rockies.   

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Create, Then Consume

Create, Then Consume

I recently read an article by The Everygirl on a photographer who has made a name for herself in her industry through creative branding and successful leveraging of social media.  Although I’m not a photographer, or even as artistic and trendy as Jenna Kutcher, I haven’t stopped thinking about one of the things she said about staying inspired in your business:

“Create, then consume.”

She describes the world of social media as a shouting match, one that can block our own creativity from flowing freely.  You can read the article for some great practical suggestions about how to change your focus from consuming to creating; it’s good stuff. 

I’ve been pondering on this a lot as it relates to our dogs and training.  How many times do I think “man, I wish I had time to teach my dog x, y, and z” and it never seems to make it to the top of the list; but yet I find the time to check Facebook for five minutes (*cough* or more *cough*) every morning and night.  If I spent just as much time teaching my dog something new every day, he might be qualified to run for president four years from now. 

I have initiated a little challenge for myself.  I’m working up to the goal behavior of lots of training, little bit of social media, so to start out, my objective is to spend at least half as much time on training as I do checking SM platforms.  So if I spend 30 minutes on Facebook, I will do a 15-minute (or 3 5-minute) training session(s) with my own dog each day. 

Roo has loved the extra attention this week!  He's already fine-tuned his pivoting skills (getting ready for his Intermediate Parkour Dog Title!) and practiced backing up onto high objects.  

Roo has loved the extra attention this week!  He's already fine-tuned his pivoting skills (getting ready for his Intermediate Parkour Dog Title!) and practiced backing up onto high objects.  

If you want to join me on this challenge, I’d love to have company!  Even if you don’t have a dog to train, find something else to start working on.  Pick up an instrument you haven’t practiced in years, find a language-learning application, start an educational book, or a writing project.  15 minutes doesn’t seem that long, especially compared to how much time I often spend consuming online. 

If you and your dog accomplish something great during these sessions, I want to see it!  Share you progress on Facebook or Instagram so that we can encourage each other!