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colorado dog training

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!

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!

fort-collins-dog-training-holiday-classes

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!   

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.   

lorystateparkhikingwithdogs

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.