Time vs. Attention

Many would argue that people who have many hours per day to spend on things they want to be doing have the ultimate freedom. They can work hard days, come home, and shut off.
But what happens when you get home only to check your email or get a call informing you of a crisis that can’t be addressed until the following day? Or worse, a few days later.

You still have the time, but do you have the attention to take full advantage of it? Will you really be able to give your all to whoever you are spending time with? Will you really be able to relax? Probably not.

Keep this rule in mind as your approaching your days off or weekends. In a day and age where time is our number one asset, make sure that you are setting yourself up to make the most of it.

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Rules and Safety in the Car for your Dog

The car can be a place of great excitement or great stress for some dogs.  We see quite a few dogs that get severe car sickness, become anxious overexcitable messes, or are highly reactive at people or dogs outside.  Lets asses the different behaviors that we see in the car and break down the causes and solutions.

Car Sickness:

Lots of dogs get severe car sickness.  Some cant even drive 5 minutes down the road without their dog puking in the back seat.  One common sign that we see in most of these dogs that are losing their lunch is LOTS of pacing and restlessness in the car.  This nonstop movement in an already moving vehicle is recipe for disaster.  Have you ever tried to walk on a rocking boat?  We have found that removing the ability to move around so much and get themselves all wound up has drastically removed the car sickness.  Most times even eliminating it all together.

Enforce a down stay in the back seat and use your remote collar to keep the dog there.  Setting this clear boundary will stop the dogs ability to escalate into a state of mind that would make them vomit.

Reactivity out the Window:

Reactivity!  We see this one everywhere.  Dogs, People, squirrels, noises!  Some dogs just bark at everything.  This can get to be quite a nuisance when stoped at a light or going through a drive through.  Most reactivity is stemmed from a lack of structure, guidance, and dogs being put in a position to make decisions on who is ok or not ok.  Unfortunately in the car is prime opportunity for this because there is rarely any structure or rules in the car.

Set structure and boundaries in the car.  For most dogs, this alone will stop the reactivity.  Make a very clear back seat only policy.  There should be no climbing onto the center council or riding shotgun with their head out the window.  Correct with your remote collar any time the dog tries to climb up front, jump on the door panel, or get jumpy in the back.  If you have a dog that is very active in the back seat, enforcing a down stay will help.  This is very easy to manage while driving.  Keep your remote handy and mark with “No” and correct every time the dog tries to pop up.

If you have a dog that has more extreme car reactivity they may still get vocal even after all of these techniques have been applied.  The last remaining step is enforcing a clear quiet command.  Set your remote to a slightly higher level.  When the dog begins barking, say “Quiet” and pair with a tap on the remote collar.  Repeat process, increasing your level as needed, until the dog calms down into a relaxed position.

Safety in the Car

Traveling with your dog can be quite dangerous to both you and your pet.  Their sometimes wild behavior can turn into some serious distractions that take our attention away from driving.  These are a handful of safety dos and don’ts that we strongly encourage when traveling with your pet.

Do not allow your dog in the front seat:

The number one distraction that your dog can create for you is blocking your sight or impairing your ability to drive.  Pets in the front seat can very easily bump something on accident, jump into your lap and block your vision, or cause you to become distracted by petting them or giving too much attention to them.

Use a car restraint if necessary:

An unrestrained 10-pound dog in a crash at 50 mph will exert roughly 500 pounds of force, while an unrestrained 80-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert approximately 2400 pounds of force.  There are many great ways to safely restrain a dog in your vehicle.  There are seat belt harnesses, pet barriers for the back area of your car, and travel kennels that will fit your vehicle.  These are all fantastic options to help keep your pet in one spot and your eyes on the road in case of an accident.

Keep the windows rolled up:

Allowing your dog to stick their head out the window is in my opinion one of the more dangerous things that you can do with your dog.  We have had numerous clients with dogs that have jumped out of the car window, causing serious injury to your pet.  You also greatly increase the chances of potentially fatal injury if you were to get into an accident while your pet has a part of its body outside of the vehicle.

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Key Steps To Eliminating Unwanted Behaviors (Inspired by Gary Wilkes)

Most dogs show a handful of behaviors that we would like to reduce or eliminate.  Jumping, mouthing, excessive barking, or the countless other things that our pets do are not only annoying and rude to us or our guests, but they can also be quite dangerous.

When it comes to stopping unwanted behaviors there are a few things we must keep in mind.  Following these rules will ensure that we are connecting the consequence with the correct behavior and reducing the likelihood of the dog repeating the behavior over and over again.

1.) Identify the Behavior:

Any time that we are going to be stopping an unwanted behavior the first thing that we need to do is identify the behavior.  We use the word “NO” to do this.  There are few reasons why this is important.

First is that our “NO” marker ties the consequence to the behavior.  If we have successfully marked the behavior with “NO” the second that the dog does it, we are able to deliver a correction even if the dog has already stopped the unwanted behavior.

The second reason is what we refer to as “Latency”.  This means that you do not need to correct the behavior immediately.  You just have to have a marker that IDENTIFIES the behavior immediately.  In Pavlov’s studies he has shown this to be true up to 30 minutes after identifying the behavior.

The final reason is so we can avoid creating direct associations with training tools.  By Verbally marking the unwanted behavior with a “NO” before delivering our correction We avoid the dog just listening because the remote collar is on.  The dog is able to directly associate the correction with coming from us and not a specific piece of training equipment.  Without identifying the behavior BEFORE correcting it we are simply dropping land mines and hoping that the dog is making a connection to the BEHAVIOR and not just the TOOL.

2.) Consistency:

This is arguably the most important aspect of stopping unwanted behaviors.  Everyone has heard the old saying “if you give them an inch, they will take a mile”.  This couldn’t ring more true to our dogs behaviors.  Correcting jumping 50% of the time and allowing or ignoring it the other 50% will do nothing but confuse the dog and leave them guessing “Maybe I can get away with it this time?”.  This makes it unfair to the dog as well as ruins your chances of creating a lasting inhibition.

I have seen owners completely stop jumping in 3 days and have it never come back and I have seen owners struggle with these things for months on end.  Every time the result is due to consistency.  To sum it up:  If you say “NO” you MUST deliver a correction every time.

3.) Ensure that the Correction is Highly Motivating to the Dog (or Intolerable):

For obedience training or general household management, our remote collar is set to a motivating but not highly aversive level.  Trying to use this lower “communicative” level to stop problematic behaviors has a similar effect to poking the bear.  It may temporarily interrupt the dog from rehearsing it but will do no good in leaving a lasting effect the next time the dog considers trying the behavior.  Occasionally it can just irritate the dog and further escalate their behavior.

When trying to stop behavioral issues we typically will set the remote collar much higher.  By ensuring that the correction will be “Intolerable” we greatly increase our chances of eliminating the behavior in less time.  If we successfully pair an intolerable consequence with a specific behavior we will be able to create lasting inhibitions.

4.) The Correction Must be Unavoidable:

We are big fans of using remote collars for stopping unwanted behaviors because it ensures that the dog can’t avoid the correction.  There is no need to chase the dog around the room to grab a leash or use any other corrective device.

That being said, anyone that is training exclusively with leash and prong, or any other corrective tool must keep this one in mind.  If the dog can escape or run away before you deliver a correction you will not stop the behavior.  Set yourself up so that you can easily get to the dog to give a leash pop or any other correction when you are setting up these scenarios.

A Few Final Notes:

This is always a sensitive topic.  No one wants to “hurt” their dog or cause any distress.  It is important to understand that that is not the goal we are trying to accomplish.  “Motivating” and “Intolerable” does not always mean “painful”.  To some dogs a spritz of water to the face or a rolled up towel thrown in their direction is what one would consider “Intolerable”.

The other important things to note is that POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT ALONE WILL NOT STOP UNWANTED BEHAVIORS.  Nor will teaching an alternative behavior.  Most behavioral issues that dogs show are self reinforcing, meaning that the act of doing the behavior is positive reinforcement alone to your dog.  The act of digging in the yard or jumping up on guests feels good to the dog.  Why would they stop those behaviors unless they had a good enough reason to do so?  Creating a negative association with these behaviors through proper punishment WILL successfully stop and inhibit the behavior.

Follow these steps and you will be well on your way to having a much more behaved and well mannered dog.

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Preventing or Eliminating Separation anxiety

Many dogs struggle with some degree of separation anxiety.  When a dog is in a state of panic and stress, they are suffering and in mental pain.  It is our obligation as dog owners to be advocate for their physical as well as mental well being as well.  Most times it can be reversed or eliminated with a few simple tweaks to how we are interacting with our dogs when we leave the house or are coming home.  These are a few tips on how we go about ensuring our dog is as calm as possible in our absence.

It is important to not make a big deal out of leaving.  Giving a big long hug and reassuring our dog that we will be back soon does nothing but create a contrast that something big or exciting is about to happen.  The last thing that we want when we are leaving the home.

Begin your process of leaving 20-30 minutes before you exit the house.  Eliminate all interaction with the dog to prep them for your absence.  Grab your keys, put your shoes on, and go about your routine as normal while ignoring the dog.  Crate your dog up or leave them where you intend them to be when you leave.  When you leave the house, just leave!

When returning to your home, keep your energy calm!  Come in, get your dog, take them outside to potty, and let them exist for 10-15 minutes before giving any sort of physical or emotional attention.  Instill no touch, talk, or eye contact until the dog is in a calm state of mind.  I understand that we are excited to see our dog but coming in home with lots of high energy and baby talk does nothing but adrenalize the dog.

It is important to understand that if your dog has more extreme cases of separation anxiety further steps may need to be taken.  Here are a few more tips on things to do to eliminate anxiety and get your dog in a much more healthy state of mind.

Exercise:

Though it is not the fix all for separation anxiety, Getting your dog properly excersized can help make it easier for your dog to remain calm in your absence.  Getting out for a quick session of ball or tug can help to get your dog in the right gear before you leave.  Treadmill training is also a great option for those who may not have the space or time to walk their dog as much as they would like.

Practice Out of Sight Duration work:

Working on down stays or bed stays while you leave the room is beneficial for teaching the dog to stay calm in your absence.  This is our version of controlled forced separation.  This blocks unhealthy habits of pacing the room, following you like a shadow, or any of the other symptoms of separation anxiety.  We want our dog to learn to coexist without always needing to be right next to us.

Avoid Conditioned Excitement:

Lots of owners unintentionally will create patterns of excitement through their words or body language.  Common words or phrases like “do you want to go for a walk?”, “I’ll see you soon!”, or “Dinner time!” become conditioned through repetition of saying them in exciting situations.  This does nothing but cause unintentional adrenaline.  This is the same concept as your patterns when you leave the house.  Slowing down all these other situations will bleed over into all other situations where your dog struggles with impulse control.

Correct The Anxiety:  

It is a common misconception that you can not correct separation anxiety.  We have found this to be untrue and actually found it to be one of the beneficial ways to tackle the issue.  If you can stop the sequence of escalation in the dogs state of mind (Barking, whining, or any other destructive behaviors we see due to the anxiety) it can help to dramatically reduce the stress levels.  Bark collars are an incredibly valuable tool if you have a very vocal dog in your absence.  Blocking these patterns that the dog shows when you leave teaches them to find new coping mechanisms for you leaving the house.  Most times this results in the dog relaxing and taking a nap.

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Duration work and state of mind in the house

The primary focus in our training system is the overall state of mind of the dog.  Most of the dogs we work with struggle with anything from lack of impulses to extreme anxieties.    There are not many things that are quite as beneficial to achieving impulse control and melting away anxiety issues as practicing duration in positions.

An essential habit to develop is to work on your “bed stays” or “down stays” daily for a minimum of 45 minutes.  Once a week I try to do 2 hours straight with my personal dogs.  Look for areas in your day to day where your dog would be showing signs of unnecessary arousal or being annoying, and put this to use.

When practicing this, put your dog in position somewhere in eyesight.  I usually recommend using “Bed” in the house as it is a more clear position and much less likely that your dog will try to army crawl around the room.  Proceed to go about whatever you were currently doing while keeping an eye on the dog to make sure he hasn’t gotten up.  If your dog breaks command say “No”, correct with your remote collar at a motivating level, and take our dog all the way back to the spot they were in.  Be 100% consistent about correcting ANY TIME the dog breaks command and follow through until they relax into the position.  Avoid working on duration with you out of sight until your dog is reliable with you in sight.

Great opportunities that I have found with my personal dogs to work their duration are:  Having guests over, Cooking dinner, Mealtime, Winding down in the evening before bed, or when you are trying to do household chores.

You will find some of these situations will be much harder for the dog than others.  You may see excessive whining, panting, restlessness, or other signs of stress.  I will typically refer to this as “the good stress”.  The stress of your dog working hard and finding new ways to cope with their anxieties and arousal.  If you are seeing these signs while working duration it is important to STICK WITH IT.  Each time will get easier as your dog works through their old habits.  If it’s hard to do, it’s important to practice.

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Structure in the House

Most behavioral issues that people face in the home are due to a lack of structure and leadership in the house.  Dogs are put in a position where they need to make decisions with little to no guidance from us.  It is essential to shift that and apply rules and boundaries to get our dogs constantly thinking and looking to us to determine what is appropriate and not appropriate.

These are some basic structure and management techniques that will ensure that you have a well behaved dog in your home.  We put our emphasis on promoting only calm behavior in the house.  This will ensure that situations that are typically arousing, like having guests over or meal times, become much more manageable.  Some of these are temporary and some are permanent depending on the dogs individual issues and needs.

Furniture.

Dogs are our best friends.  We get them to cuddle on the couch and enjoy their company.  Heck, even my personal dogs sleep in the bed with me every night.

That being said it is essential that we create a boundary involving their access to our furniture right off the bat.  This will be the first step for getting your dog to ask for your permission in the house.  We implement a no furniture (Couches, chairs, bed) policy for the first 30 days the dog goes home.  If your dog jumps up onto the furniture you will calmly say “No” and deliver a correction with your remote collar at a motivating level.

*After 30 days we switch to permission based furniture access.  You will apply the same rules as before (no access to furniture with a correction for jumping up on their own) with the acceptation of being allowed up when WE invite them to come up.* (Any dog with aggression issues may be subject to this step being removed and maintaining a strict no furniture policy)

Furniture access is a privilege not a right and we want to ensure that we can remove it if need be to help provide much needed structure.  It is essential that we are consistent about this over the course of these first 30 days.  Any wavering from it will cause the dog to continue pushing the boundary you are trying to set and not reduce the behavior.

Guest/front door protocol

If there is one thing our clients struggle with in the house it’s having guests come over.  We see everything from explosive behavior when the door bell goes off, to jumping all over your guests as they are trying to walk into the door.  This is not only rude to our friends and family who are trying to say hello to us, but also can lead to more serious and dangerous behavioral issues down the line.

We set a very strict protocol for guests coming over.  Set yourself and your dog up for success by asking your friends and family for a few minor things before they come over.

1.) Forewarning before coming over or coming to the front door.  You will have a lot to focus on the first few times you have guests over.  Letting them in and getting your dog stationary in itself can be a task the first few times that you practice these drills.  Knowing before they come knocking at your dog will give you the time to prepare yourself to guide your dog through a distracting situation.

2.) Ignore the dog.  Have them follow the no look, no touch, no eye contact policy.  Your dog has a lot of associations with guests coming to your home.  Up until this point there is a good chance that it was “The Fido Show” every time anyone came over.  Adding any attention towards the dog right off the bat will make your job of getting your dog into a calm stable position 10x harder.

When the doorbell goes off we have a few things we need to do.  First and foremost is correct any explosion we may get to the doorbell going off.  Mark with a verbal “No” and deliver a correction at a motivating level on the remote collar (I typically will start at double what your dog works at under any other distractions the first few times).

Next we need to get our dog in a stable position.  I like to use our “Bed” command for this as it is the most clear and stable position.  Stand next to the bed and recall the dog over and onto it.  Proceed to let your guest in ONLY when the dog is in position and stable.  If your dog breaks command mark with your “No”, deliver correction, and take your dog back to “Bed”.

*Once things have settled down (not just 4-5 minutes) and your dog is relaxed and not anticipating being released (I mean it, they should be calm!) you may let him/her up to be apart of things.  Enforce a strict “Four on the Floor” no jumping policy as they are enjoying the company of your guest.  Give correction with remote collar if the dog gets to excited and begins to jump.* (Any dog with aggression issues may be subject to this step being removed and maintain a strict Bed policy around new guests)

Understand your dogs individual needs.  If there will be a lot of people coming over or your dog gets easily overwhelmed in busy situations they may need short exposure and frequent breaks away from all the action.  Our goal is to build their confidence through neutrality and coexistence.18424720_1584189038258564_1664609208_n

How Obtainable Are Your Goals?

Today I came to two realizations.  

1. It sucks saying no to things you really want to do but really shouldn’t do.. yet

2. Your dreams are way more obtainable than you think.  

Any of you that know me know that I have been diving very deeply into the world of personal, financial, and business development.  I have spent just about every free minute reading books, listening to audiobooks and podcasts, and looking for new ways to continue pushing myself.  

The other day in my reading I stumbled across a fantastic concept called “dreamscaping”.  The idea is that whenever you are feeling platoed or at a standstill to come up with the three #1 things you would like to have, do, or be.  Once you do that you would select the top 3 that you can take action on.  This action will show you how much more obtainable your dreams are than you think.  

So I hunkered down and picked two #1 longtime goals.  Owning a luxury sports car and living in my dream apartment.

I took action and went to the dealership, picked out my dream car (A beautiful Porsche Panamera GTS), and scheduled a visit to a lakefront view apartment at the Quay 55 luxury living center in downtown Cleveland.

And Boom..

I got approved for both of them.  Two things that I otherwise would have thought I would never be able to accomplish or have were now within my fingertips.  Though it sucked turning them both down for practicality reasons at this point in my life, BOY did it drive a new fire into me.  

We constantly limit ourselves by saying “that will never be me” or “why dream that big when this is so much more practical?”.  Little do we realize that 99% of the population thinks that way making the middle ground goals congested and highly in demand.  The purpose of this excersise is to inspire and take your dreams and goals to a whole new level.  And boy did it work.  

Don’t set limits for yourself and keep dreaming.  

Set your clients up for success.  

Your client walks in 5 minutes late for their weekly session.  They are in a frenzy apologizing for running behind.  In front of them is the same dog that you spent an hour with last week working on leash walking, door manners, obedience and outlining everything they have to work on that week.  None of which included the dog pulling the owners into their next session.

You’re frustrated.  “How can they show up late and clearly not being doing what I told them AGAIN!”.  You let them settle in and finally ask “So how was the last week..?” Already knowing the answer.

Here’s the thing:  All of your frustration that you have for things not going exactly as you planned will do you no good.  Your clients are not dog trainers.  They live a normal life with a real job that doesn’t always involve spending 8 hours a day working with their dog.  Heck, my dogs are lucky to get a 20 minute session of “chuck-it” in the backyard after I finish working all of my clients dogs.

Do clients slack off?  Yes.  Do things not always go as planned? Yes.  But can you learn from it?  Absolutely.  Begin to look for patterns in your clients struggles or lack of effort.  If you are seeing a reoccurring trend in any of your programs target in on it.  Ask yourself “can I make this more simple or better motivate my client?”.

Do some serious self evaluations of your programs.  Simplify EVERYTHING where you can.  It shouldn’t require hours of work at home every day to get the results they’re looking for.  Connect with your client on a personal level.  Find out what makes them tick.  What motivates them or what hobbies they have at home.  Use these all as key points to help them come up with homework that will fit their lifestyle.

Then add in what isn’t working on their end.

Without the blaming or shaming.  They will already feel bad enough at that point.  Discuss what is working and what isn’t.  Inform them how much better things could be with some minor tweaks.  And continue to help them move forward in a productive way.

1.  Your clients will be more and more motivated as you make their goals more achievable.

2.  You will realize that your programs will get better as you learn to communicate effectively with people that have a vast range of lifestyles.

So ask yourself.  Did you put on the work?

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The Current State of Dog Training..

Being a dog trainer is the worst.  I do not enjoy waking up wondering which broken, mislead, or troubled dogs I will be working with on that particular day.  I do not enjoy knowing that because I have a bit more knowledge than your average dog owner on their precious fur babies, I am able to make a living off of their mistakes.

In this day and age there is a constant push for building businesses and making a quick dollar.  With over 78 million dogs owned by people all across the US alone, it is easy to see that there is no shortage of demand for people to help them with their pets.   The money is great, and the job security is there but where do we draw the line and realize that we are still providing an incredibly personalized service.  One that requires knowledge, passion, persistence, and an openness and awareness of the hardships you will face as your clients try to replicate what you are trying to teach.

Most dog trainers have a hard time realizing the importance of the position that they find themselves in.  They sway to far to the wrong side of the line.  Inexperienced handlers take on dogs that are way above their pay grade.  Companies sacrifice customer service and quality for profit margins and a quick turnover.  Meanwhile the customer struggles and dogs die because of it.

Heck, I’ve been there.  As a 22 (almost 23) year old dog trainer who has been in the industry for close to 3 years now i’ve managed to see it all.  Bosses taking the sleazy car salesman approach, trying to find any way to hustle off a few more sessions that either weren’t needed or would never get completed.  Working with dangerous dogs that, at the time, I knew nothing about.  Focusing on only myself using innovative training techniques for the sake of looking cool, not knowing that the client would never be able to replicate what I was doing.

Through all of the mistakes I’ve seen or made i have learned more than you can imagine.  Ive honed my craft and built something very successful that is consistently helping people in ways I couldn’t have imagined before.  This is what brought me here.  If I can continue to bring awareness to the issues at hand in our industry and push people to better what they are doing for the CLIENT and not just them we are going to make huge waves.

Will you follow my journey?

Much Love to all,

-David Tirpak

 

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