Ahimsa Dog Training, Seattle - Dog Articles and Ahimsa News
Please see my list of dog training and behavior articles in the column to the right, or read my most recent blog posts below. Thanks for stopping by! If you are on Twitter, Facebook, or do some other social networking, please pass on our articles!
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With our young or high energy dogs we are often faced with the challenges of hyperactive behaviors such as excessive biting, chewing, jumping, destruction, and vocalization.Â Most of these behaviors can be attributed to lack of physical and mental exercise, unintentionally reinforcing undesirable behaviors, and missed opportunities to reinforce calm behaviors.Â Training calm behaviors is another important component to helping dogs learn to relax. When dogs are unable to properly relax, they find things to do in order to exert their energy and to occupy their minds…many of which can drive dog parents crazy.
We received this letter from a Puppy Camp student and I was thrilled to hear about puppy camp achieving exactly what I had hoped when we began it last year. We get thank you notes all the time from students (yay!) but this was so detailed and clear that I asked Dana for permission to share it on our website. Note: I also added in some links, but otherwise, this is Dana’s original email. It’s especially valuable feedback, because Dana is a Ph.D. clinical psychologist!
My French Bulldog puppy, Babette, has been a grateful Puppy Camp student for eight weeks. I wanted to drop a note to make sure you are aware of what amazing work is going on there. I really cannot imagine how Babette’s development would have played out had it not been for Frank, Amber and Katie. Read the rest of this entry »
We are completely excited to announce that our radio show on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM starts next week! We also have other great January happenings, so please read on.
1. Best of Seattle
We may not have actually shared this news yet, so… Thanks to your votes last fall, Ahimsa Dog Training was second place in the Best of Western Washington contest–first among the training facilities in the Seattle area. So thank you!! Read the rest of this entry »
Check out thisÂ interview about Behavior Adjustment Training (BAT) with dog trainer Victoria Stilwell from the Animal Planet TV show “It’s Me or the Dog.”Â The interview with Ahimsa’s owner, Grisha Stewart, is just over 5 minutes. It starts at 22:40 and goes to about 36:00.
Please do not let your dogs drink from the lake right now. It is poisonous. http://tinyurl.com/8kkgfjj
2. Vote for Ahimsa! Every vote counts.
We would really appreciate your vote for Ahimsa in the Best of Western Washington Contest. Voting ends very soon, so please vote today. If you have a chance to also leave a comment, that would be great! The more specific, the better. We are close to winning again, but we need some more votes:
We just got some great feedback on a service we started in last spring, Puppy Day Camp. In our Puppy Day Camp, we do the training and socialization homework for our students, so they can live their lives. This format has allowed us to work some minor miracles. I thought I’d share this feedback so you see what I mean!
When we first came to Ahimsa we had just adopted a 9-week-old puppy that was terrified of the world, snarling at everything and everyone in it (even other puppies). We are not inexperienced dog owners, but this was far beyond what we had bargained for. After 2 nonfunctional (for us/him) Puppy Kindergarten sessions where our pup snarled at anyone coming close, the trainers suggested that he would be a good candidate for intensive training in their Puppy Day Camp program.
Within the first 2 weeks there was tremendous improvement in our puppy, he learned lots of words, was less afraid of things, had much improved manners and the unpleasant snarling reduced dramatically. It has now been 6 weeks of Ahimsa Puppy Day Camp and we have and entirely different, confident and well-mannered tweener dog. He now has fabulous manners (a convenient output of Puppy Day Camp) and most importantly he has become a popular playmate with other puppies, people and children â€“ and he LOVES it! Instead of snarling, he, looks forward to going outside and shakes off anything super scary. There was no way we could have helped him improve so rapidly on our own, regardless of our experience and kindness. There just was no substitute for the 16 hours a week of focused intensive training (& puppy emotional therapy) that the expert staff at Ahimsa Puppy Camp provided for our pup. We are now confident that our puppy has the skills to make and build good decisions that will help him grow further into a very loved and easy to live with furry family member.
Note: in our camp, the idea is to keep things calm and fun the whole time. If we are not able to set up an environment where a puppy will be comfortable (i.e., not snarly or scared) then we would recommend private training, instead. We take the well-being of all of our campers very seriously!
We also have a video of this dog at the Furry 5K, an event by the Seattle Animal Shelter that Ahimsa sponsored this June. I’ll post that soon!
Will this be your dog’s first summer in your home? Have your puppy spend some time in your back yard today to get used to the sights and sounds of spring. The reason to do this is to teach your puppy not to bark at people, dogs, and other distractions in your neighborhood.
I am thrilled to announce that we are moving forward with our Puppy Day Camp! This is not a free-for-all, Lord of the Flies experience. The puppies will get an orchestrated socialization and training experience to help them get off on the right paw.
Starting April 9th.
2 staff members to supervise the puppies.
Up to 6 Puppies, 2-5 months old. Play will often be in smaller groups.
So what is this, exactly? A tired dog is a good dog, but a trained, tired puppy is even better. And we do your homework for you! Ok, so it’s good to keep doing it, but think of how much faster your puppy will learn housetraining, crate training, sit, down, stay, targeting, and the rest with some expert help.
Training, play time, and chill-out time. That way, puppies don’t just learn to see other dogs and immediately jump into play mode. Your puppy will have a chance to learn to settle with other dogs around.
Great for pet dogs and competition dogs.
Daily report card on each puppy for potty training, skills, socialization, etc. Each week, you can select skills or problems for our staff to focus on during the Puppy Day Camp.
Clean and safe environment (both physically and emotionally).
We’ll provide crates, or you can bring yours. Bring your own bed so we can work on ‘go to your bed’ with your dog’s own bed, which will help the skills transfer to your home crate.
Sessions will be in the brand new Ahimsa Annex (with the possibility of field trips, depending on the vaccination status of the puppies).
Drop off 7:30-8, pick-up 11:30-noon.
Camp is Monday through Thursday. Book by the week, have your puppy come as many weeks as you want.
Where: Ahimsa’s new space (the annex), at 925 C NW 49th St. in Ballard (Seattle).
When: February 16, 2012, 6:00 until 7:30pm. (If you’re participating, please arrive at 4:30 to help set up the space and start warming up at about 5:00 pm.
What: An Agility Demo, which will be run like a miniature trial, with all obstacles included (there may only be 6 weaves since ours may not have arrived yet). Treats and toys will be allowed on course.
Why: For fun, for training (new environment, spectators, and treats/toys allowed–super cool!), for the good of the agility community!
NO DOGS: Please do NOT bring your dog unless you’re one of the people who’ve arranged with Ali for the demo (see below). Thanks!!
If you’re an experienced agility person and have trained your dog with positive methods, contact Ali Johnson, our awesome (new to us) agility instructor, to see if we still have space for participants.
Here’s a quote from the most recent Karen Pryor newsletter by Ken Ramirez, executive vice president of animal care and animal training at the world-renowned Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. Ken is a brilliant trainer who applies his skills to dogs, people, and exotic animals, too.
I just had to share it with you all, especially since January is Train Your Dog Month!
We’ll be hosting a seminar with Ken Ramirez in Seattle in 2013. Keep your eyes open and check our Events Page frequently, or subscribe to our seminar newsletter. Here’s the quote (the bold part is my emphasis):
“My message would be simple: training is not a luxury, but a key component to good animal care. Everyone who has a pet should understand that basic fact. Training is a way to enhance the quality of life for our pets. It is far more than just teaching a dog to do a cute trick. Training is about teaching a dog (or any animal) how to live in our world safely.”
This is so true. I had a conversation with some friends last night and one of them said, “my goal is to pick a dog that doesn’t need training, like our last two.” Newsflash: all dogs need training, some more ‘officially’ than others. Everything we do with a dog teaches them the rules of our household, so whether you think you are training or not, you are! Having a consistent plan just makes things simpler, less confusing, and more fun for human and dog (if you’re using rewards).
For example, with training, you can simply say, “leave it” if your dog is checking out something you’d rather he leave alone, instead of raising your voice and yelling something random. Isn’t that better for everyone?
And don’t even get me started on the importance of puppy and teen dog socialization… Skipping socialization in puppyhood is neglect — a lazy version of dog abuse.
Interested in training your dog or puppy? Check out our list of dog training classes, which now includes Agility and Control Unleashed classes by Ali Johnson, CPDT-KA, plus Troubled Teens, Growly Dog 1 & 2, Basic Manners, Puppy Kindergarten and more.
The November news is here a little early. Why? We have Jr. High starting, Halloween here, and some brags to share.
1. Halloween is here and the rest of the holiday season is coming soon
We will be closed only in the evening of Halloween. Morning classes will take place, but we close at 2:30 pm on October 31. See below for Halloween tips. We will also be closed Weds-Sunday on the week of Thanksgiving and December 23 – January 1.
If you are registered for a class, you got an email with dates that you have reserved. Notice that these are not always consecutive! Your registration may have a skip date because we are closed for a holiday or because that hour of the class was full when you registered. Please note the actual dates you reserved with your class.
Just a quick reminder that Ahimsa is closed for Labor Day weekend, through Monday night, 9/5 (store, playtime, & classes). We do have our biannual summer camp near the Mount Baker National Forest this weekend, and you can join us! Read on for more news.
As I mentioned a while back, we started a doggie drill team at Ahimsa. Last weekend, at the Furry 5K to support the Seattle Animal Shelter, we did our first show. While it wasn’t perfect, I still thought it turned out great! The most important part is that the dogs were treated well, even if there was a mistake. We definitely had a great time and are practicing hard for our next gig. See our routine for yourself here:
You can use the links below to share on Facebook, or just copy and paste the link to this page.
p.s. If you’d like to join the drill team, let us know.
This little story from a dog’s perpective is so touching that i just have to share. My shelter dogs certainly make my life so much better. See the bottom for some links with info on how to (or not to) pick a shelter dog.
I RESCUED A HUMAN TODAY
Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor peering apprehensively into the kennels. I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her. I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn’t be afraid.
If you’ve ever had a hoovering puppy or a dog that likes to explore the world with her mouth, you know that getting your dog to let go of something quickly is important. It’s also great for exercising your dog, because dropping the toy is an important part of fetch.
There are many things that I’m glad I don’t do in the doggie fashion, like sniffing poo on the ground or rolling in smelly carcasses. But one thing that I’m so glad that my dog does and can share with me is the ability to live in the moment.
Our local Charity of the Month is Old Dog Haven, which is based in Lake Stevens. I love them and hope you will be generous to them. They foster, rehome (if possible), and provide lifelong care for older dogs. They really deserve our help.
Please donate to the little pug container at the training center or directly to Old Dog Haven – please mention the Ahimsa Dog Training charity of the month program. They were the March charity too, but we didn’t raise enough (it was just $11), so we are trying again. They also have great dogs at Old Dog Haven, so you could adopt from them or help out in other ways. Please read that link, there are actually a lot of ways to help, like posting a link to this article on Facebook or using a real estate agent who donates 1/5 of his commission to Old Dog Haven. Read the rest of this entry »
For February we have chosen Summit Assistance Dogs, a 501(c)3 Non-Profit organization based in Anacortes, Washington, that provides mobility, hearing and therapy dogs for people living with disabilities. There are more than 55 million Americans living with various disabilities, and the wait time for a service dog can be as long as two to five years. Summit was created to help fill this big need, and provides approximately 6 to 8 trained assistance dogs per year to its recipients, in addition to providing follow up care and support for the life of the dog.Â Summit provides dogs to individuals in need, regardless of ability to pay, and also is one of the few organizations which provides service dogs to individuals under the age of 18.
Join us for the first meeting of the Ahimsa Dog Training Drill Team! Our drill team will meet every other Friday night at 7 pm. We will perform at various dog events in the Seattle area to show off the power of positive dog training.
Tricks trained with positive reinforcement only.
Dogs should already have good training focus. Not perfect, but good.
Dogs need to be able to be fairly close to other dogs.
Rehearsal is to come up with moves and practice them as a group.
Free, $5 suggested donation to the Charity of the Month.
At some point, we may have tryouts, but for now, we’ll practice with whoever is interested.
There will not be an instructor, because this is not a class, but rather a rehearsal. An Ahimsa staffer will lead the group. She will probably have her own dog present.
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “drill team” if you’re interested in attending.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was yesterday. It motivated me to make some changes and one of them is that Ahimsa Dog Training is going to start having a Dog Charity of the Month. We will give local (Seattle / Puget Sound area) rescue organizations and charities a chance to be featured in our blog. The charity of the month will also have a donation bin at our training center and dog training supply store in Ballard, so that our students can learn about your organization and/or donate. Read the rest of this entry »
We had a great time at the positive dog training flash mob at Westlake center on Sunday. The surprise dance routine (I use the word dance loosely, here) was meant to bring attention to the fact that January is “Train Your Dog Month” and promote positive training, including the Puget Sound Positive Dog Trainers group. Trainers Mary McNeight and Amanda Brothers spearheaded the effort. Peanut and I were happy to join in the fun! I’m in the light blue shirt and Peanut is in the gray Thundershirt (which helped him deal with the noises of traffic in downtown Seattle). It wasn’t the most polished group dance, but considering that these dogs never practiced as a group, it was amazing! Watch out for the next one… Read on to see some video clips!
There is some research on dogs being able to laugh. It’s like a fast huffy panting noise. Shelter dogs who heard recordings of dog laughter reportedly quieted down.
Whether you think the research is solid or not, it’s still fun to play around with. I have used laughter (my own version of dog laughter) to help dog greetings go well and to calm down tense play in puppy kindergarten. Read the rest of this entry »
The short answer is, “of course!” Smelling (the nose, tongue, and the vomeronasal organ) is a dog’s primary way to take in information about the world. Dogs are olfactory creatures, we are visual. Their sense of smell is part of what makes our dogs so amazing!
Asking a dog not to put her nose to the ground is like asking a human to walk around with a blindfold on. My only requirement on leash walking is that the leash be loose, not that the dog walk without sniffing, unless I specifically ask the dog to heel.
The holidays can be a hard time for a new dog to come into a busy home, unless you take time to give your dog a chance to relax and start your training fairly soon. So we’ve created a discount to encourage you (or your friends) to start training.
People who adopted a dog from a shelter or rescue organization in December 2010 or January 2011 qualify for our “Home for the Holidays” discount! To get the discount, use coupon code “homeholiday” (without the quotes) to get 10% off of classes.
The not-so-fine print:
This discount is not retroactive (i.e., please don’t ask us to apply it to classes you’ve already signed up for).
This is on the honor system, so please don’t use it if you already had your dog before December or if your dog is not from a rescue. Thanks!
We are excited to announce a more comprehensive program for our Seattle dog training classes in the first few months of 2011. With the improvements come a new name, the K9 Globetrotterâ„¢ program! We chose that name because it conjures up images of the sophisticated dog who can travel anywhere. Think of K9 Globetrotterâ„¢ as a bigger, better version of our Dream Dog program. Any students who are enrolled in the DD program will automatically have membership in the K9 Globetrotterâ„¢ program when we transition from Dream Dog to K9 Globetrottersâ„¢.
Some features of the new K9 Globetrotterâ„¢ program will include:
Drop-in opportunities for students in series classes like Puppy Jr. High and Growly Dog
Chances to earn discounts, free training, play, and prizes around Seattle with the K9 Passportâ„¢ (every globetrotter needs a passport!)
More series classes, including Core Skills Training, for people who prefer structured classes.
The same fun, flexible ongoing classes that are currently part of the Dream Dog training program.
I’ve gotten a lot of bad news lately. Just in the last few weeks, I’ve had two clients tell me that their dogs were hit by cars, one whose dog died from a routine surgery, a few who were attacked by loose dogs, and several others who tore ligaments in their knees. My wife and I found 3 sets of loose dogs in the last three weeks. A hero dog was accidentally euthanized at a shelter in Arizona last week, when she got out of her yard and was brought to the shelter without tags. It’s been a whirlwind of bad news.
We can’t really prevent all of the problems our dogs encounter. Let’s face it, they don’t live as long as we do, so eventually, we’ll lose the battle. But we can fight for them as much as we can along the way.
FidoFEST is this Sunday, September 26th, at University Village in Seattle. I’ll be giving a demonstration at 11:45 with my dog, Peanut. I’m excited for his big debut and hope he does well with the crowds! Peanut will be doing some work with his nose (finding keys, etc.), with some of the kind of training we do in our Backyard Sports & Games classes. Read the rest of this entry »
Please vote for us in the Best of Western Washington contest! It’s really important for us at Ahimsa and it’s great way to promote positive training.
Use the button above to vote and after you do, please use Twitter, Facebook, and plain old email to spread the word! (And check your email to make sure your vote went through.)
p.s. I know a lot of local trainers read my blog (you may be one of them). If we get to the end of the contest and it’s either a truly positive trainer (like us) or a place that uses prong collars along with their treats, can you switch your vote? I will!
Ahimsa Dog Training is on King 5â€™s New Day Northwest tomorrow along with some of our great PUPPIES!
You are invited to be in the studio audience for the show. I’ll be talking about puppy socialization and dog aggression â€“ the dogs are there to be cute and get socialized!!
They say the whole show will be great. Dave from Daveâ€™s Killer Breads is on to debut his new bread and to bring armfuls of deliciousness for the audience! Seats are FREE! Audience in at 9:30am, done by 11:30.
Stuff a Kong, Squirrel Dude, Twist-n-Treat, or other food puzzle with wet dog food. Freeze it (have several so there’s always a frozen food puzzle for your puppy or dog).
Make sure your puppy understands the good-puzzle concept by having your dog work through a few inside the house (different days).
In a fenced-in yard or supervised on a leash, give your puppy the Kong to enjoy. It will last a lot longer, frozen. your puppy will passively hear the noises of the world, but not react to them. Do this a bunch!
Give a food puzzle and relax in different locations, too:
– Dog training class
– Bus stop
– Front yard
– Back yard
– Coffee shop
– On a bus (older puppy)
– At a busy park, like Green Lake (off the path)
– Near a playground
Repeat, repeat, repeat! Bring your own entertainment, like a book to read (Ahimsa training manual, maybe?).
Just make sure no other dogs try to steal your puppy’s great toy. You should also rehearse trading the food puzzle for a treat (then giving the toy back, usually), so you don’t end up with resource guarding.
For our students: also look at the training manual for the Relaxation Protocol, which is great to practice in all of the settings above.
I just created a flier for the upcoming aggression and play seminar in Seattle. If you have a dog in your neighborhood that barks or lunges at you or your dog, put these fliers up near those houses or at nearby coffee shops – maybe your neighbors will attend and learn to help their dog! Or you could be less subtle and leave one on their doorstep.
When socializing your puppy, take it at the puppy’s speed. If he wants to walk away from a person, go with him! He may just need a moment to regroup and build his confidence. It’s critical that puppies have good experiences as their own pace, not forced interactions.
Watch for body language while he’s being petted, like glancing away, turning his head, sniffing the ground, walking away, shaking off, or quickly licking his lips. If you see any of those, just happily say, “let’s go!” and walk a few steps away with the puppy. You can even hand out a treat at that point (for putting up with the stranger and for coming with you), and then possibly see if he wants to go back for more.
Do this with everything: other dogs, strangers, kids, garbage cans, etc. Let him check out scary stuff from what he thinks is a safe distance. The more he can trust you on the leash, the more brave he will be. And since most aggression is really just fear, now is your chance to do some aggression prevention.
Here’s a great YouTube video on how to get your dog used to wearing a muzzle. Dogs hate muzzles when they first go on, so it’s essential to train them to wear them comfortably if you need one. Muzzles do not keep a dog from wanting to bite, they just keep them from being able to. I only use muzzles to introduce a dog to a person or another dog when I’m sure it should go well, but I still want the situation to be safe, in case I’m wrong. I also use them when dogs who may bite have to be handled, as at the vet. We can’t count on our own timing, because dogs are ridiculously fast!!
I was asked this question by Marty Unger on Questionland today:
“My golden-doodle is incredibly sweet and wouldn’t hurt a fly but when she sees someone outside, whether she knows them or not, she barks like she wants to rip their head off. If she could speak english, what would she be saying?”
Here’s a message to a Meetup group, with permission to repost:
I was looking at your meetup group and I thought you all might be interested in something that is going on next Wednesday, June 30th, in Seattle. At Hotel Monaco in Seattle, we are holding auditions for a TV show called “Tales for the Pet Lover’s Heart.” We are looking for people who are passionate about their pets to come and audition for 10 minutes (with their pet) and tell us a little bit about themselves and their pets. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve been having a hard time choosing which of the many great causes to support with our Grand Expansion party on Friday. I’ve decided to give 5% of all profits from the new training store, including class registrations, to the Deaf Dog Photo Project. Read the rest of this entry »
* Party! Don’t forget that you are invited to our Grand Expansion Party next Friday.
Our party is next Friday, April 30th, 5-8 pm. All of our staff will be there to have fun! Come by any time throughout the party, with or without your dog – remember, not all dogs want to be at parties, even fun ones like ours. We will have free puppy play time during the whole party (20 minute limit if another dog is waiting to play), plus demos, games, door prizes, some displays by rescue groups, and more! This expansion just about coincides with our 7th anniversary. Wow!
Please forward this message on to your dog-loving friends! If you are part of a non-profit and want to display your group’s info, just let me know. Dog walkers, vets, stores, groomers, etc.: we do have a bulletin board now and can display your materials, too, if we feel confident referring to your business.
Want to stop by the new store with less hullabaloo? Our regular store hours are below:
Monday – 10 am – 9 pm
Tuesday – Thursday 5-9 pm
Saturday 9-7:30 pm
Sunday 9:30-7:30 pm
The store is at the same location as the training center, but on the south side of the building, on 9th itself. Thanks for all of the food suggestions. We have decided to not offer dog food or products that a lot of the great local stores already offer, but rather to concentrate on dog training supplies. That means we have training books, DVDs, harnesses, treats, food puzzles, life-sized stuffed dogs, and fun training gear like a remote control treat dispenser. We do sell some smaller bags of Evo to use as treats.
* Dog Aggression & Fear seminar May 28th, 6:30-8:30 pm
I just added this to the schedule yesterday, and 5 people have already registered! Sign up for this seminar if you are a trainer (or want to be), a dog walker, vet, a regular person that’s interested in dog behavior, or a student that attended Growly Dog class before we started doing BAT (Behavior Adjustment Training). This is a fairly high-level seminar, but it should be helpful for all who attend. BAT is a technique I developed to help dogs gain confidence and social skills. I will be showing video, discussing the technique, and demonstrating it live with a reactive dog. Sign up for this workshop or our other ones with Kathy Sdao and Patricia McConnell at http://doggiezen.com/workshop
* Backyard Sports & Games
This class is designed to be mostly for fun, but it also helps you and your dog become a team, using a combination of backyard agility, dog dancing, nose work/tracking, tricks, and games. This is a great way to see if your dog would enjoy one of these sports. It’s not meant for hard-core search and rescue folks or world-class agility & competitors. It’s meant as a way to expand your dog’s mind and a chance for you to have some more fun training.
Our Sunday classes are full, so we added Wednesday nights at 8 and we will probably add a daytime class start in mid-May, most likely Mondays at 1 pm. The schedule/info is at http://doggiezen.com/dreamdog/sports.php or if you’re already signed up for Dream Dog, you can log in to swap in for some of those sessions. The fun and games classes are pretty popular, so dropping in can be difficult.
* Take a fun break – watch us training puppies on King 5
If you haven’t seen us train puppies on TV yet, watch it on the home page at http://doggiezen.com In the video, I demonstrate how to teach Touch, use touch as a recall cue (come), and how to start work on heeling.
p.s. Puppy folks – I just added some more Puppy Jr. High classes, at http://ahimsadogtraining.com/class/puppy-junior-high.php Just a warning – these are popular classes and they fill quickly, so sign up when you get a chance.
Ballard dogs have been enjoying our training services since 2003. Our classes have become so popular, that we’re expanding to a second training room and a dog training store for gear and the essentials for creating a calm, happy dog. We’re so excited! Read the rest of this entry »
Ahimsa is going to be a Silver Sponsor of the Furry 5K this year. The Furry 5K is a benefit for the Seattle Animal Shelter. More news later, but I wanted to let you know about the event so that you could mark your calendars!
The Seattle Animal Shelter is pleased to present the 11th Annual Furry 5K Fun Run and Walk! The race, which will take place in Seattle’s Seward Park on Sunday, June 20th, 2010, raises money for the Help the Animals Fund.
Join the fun as thousands of people run and walk, with their friends, families, kids and of course their dogs, in order to raise money for injured and abused orphaned animals.
We will definitely have a booth and we *might* have a walking team. Let me know if you are interested in walking as an Ahimsa team!
On Monday, March 29th, I’ll be interviewed live with Margaret Larson on a brand new morning show called New Day Northwest, which runs 10-11 on weekdays. At least 3 trainers will be at their studio in Seattle and we’ll have several Ahimsa Dog Training client puppies with us. We look forward to helping greater Seattle learn more about dog-friendly training. I’ll give you more details if I figure out when exactly we’ll be on during that hour!
Hopefully I will have access to a video that I can post here in the blog.
We’ve got some fabulous talks coming up for dog trainers and people who simply have gotten addicted to dog training. It’s even better than a basket-full of chocolate kisses. Seriously.
Kathy Sdao is a behaviorist and a scientist with decades of experience, but you wouldn’t know it by the energy she puts into all of her talks.Â She has a great way of explaining difficult concepts so that we all understand.Â Kathy is doing a relatively new kind of workshop in Seattle this summer, which we’re calling “Kathy Sdao Unplugged” – it’s a place for trainers and advanced folks to bring their dogs, get practice, and solve those tricky challenges with your own dogs. We have working and auditing spots.Â You can get more info or register now for the July 15-16 workshop.
In September, we have a whole weekend devoted to fear, aggression, and play in dogs. I’ll be starting out the weekend with a 1-day presentation on Behavior Adjustment Training, or BAT.Â It’s a technique I developed that has had some really fabulous results with client dogs and my own dogs, too.Â People around the world are trying it and giving great feedback on their dog’s new-found ability to function like a regular dog!Â On the second day, Patricia McConnell will fly into Seattle and rock our world with her great info on dog play and aggression. I’m absolutely thrilled to have Dr. McConnell, author of countless dog books, come to Seattle. She’s one of my all-time favorite dog behavior heroes. Can you tell?Â You can get more info or register now for the September 11-12 workshop.
Happy spring! The construction on our second training room is almost complete. It looks like we will be good to go on April 1st. It’s adjacent to our main training room in Seattle (Ballard) and I’m hoping we’ll occasionally be able to open it up and use both rooms for bigger classes.
I’ve been busy adding more classes for you to our schedule this week. We have new Puppy Jr. High, Growly Dog classes, Puppy Kindergarten, play times, and Advanced Manners classes. Because of the 2nd training room, you can take classes at even more convenient times, including weekend mornings. Those have been reserved for puppies for the last several years, because we want the room to be pristine. Now the adult dogs can use their own room in the morning. Yay!
We also added 5 new weekly Puppy Kindergarten classes, for a total of 15, including a third class for baby puppies (under 12 weeks). Puppy class sizes will now be limited to 8 instead of 10. Read the rest of this entry »
That’s what I asked the woman with her 10-week-old Golden X puppy.Â I had just left Ahimsa to go get lunch and was about to turn right. Instead, I saw this woman and her young daughter up ahead with a puppy.Â Cute! I thought, followed immediately by a mortified, “oh my Dog, did she just hit that puppy?”Â She smacked it 3-4 times and then it moved away, and she hit it some more, probably yelling at the same time.Â I couldn’t hear her from inside my car.
So I barreled over there in my car and slammed on the brakes beside her.Â “Can you please stop hitting that puppy?” She looked up, slightly embarrassed, and tried to excuse the hitting, since the puppy had just jumped up and bitten her child.Â I told her that there were lots of great ways to get the puppy to stop biting, and I’d love to show her.Â But of course, it’s hard to be receptive when a perfect stranger comes and criticizes you from their car window, so she politely walked off. At least she didn’t yell at me. Read the rest of this entry »
I received this from the staff at Elliott Bay Animal Hospital in Seattle, which is near the training center. I thought it’d be a great cause for all dog and cat lovers in the Puget Sound to know about, and possibly support. I like supporting local causes, and maybe some of my readers do, too! Here’s the info… Read the rest of this entry »
I talked my wife into getting a Wii because it would allow us to play tennis in the winter, without even having to go anywhere.Â We set it up yesterday and Peanut thought it was fine – just some new kind of DVD player.Â Once we started playing tennis and boxing in the living room, though, he decided that we had gone completely crazy. He slumped upstairs to wait for our sanity to return.
That got me to thinking…what a great puppy socialization tool! Too bad I didn’t have this game 7 years ago, when Peanut was a puppy.
Ok, I love the new toy that Premier pet products featured a new toy at the Association of Pet Dog Trainers conference this year: the Pogo Plush. I brought home two of them, of course – one for each dog. They were an instant hit! The pogo is a plush toy, but there’s no stuffing (read: no mess), yet it feels like stuffing, because there’s a rubber frame inside. Genius!
In my first training class, with Spoon (that’s her, to the left) I was told to lure my dog into a sit and simultaneously say, “Sit.”Â Then I was to give her the treat and say, “Good sit!”
I doubt the trainer specifically wanted to teach my dog to only work if food was present, but I was sabotaging my training, and we were on the fast track to teaching her to ignore me if I didn’t have a treat!
Jeannie Yandel from KUOW in Seattle interviewed me last week. It’s going to play today at 1:06 p.m. on 94.9 FM in Seattle. It’s a personal interview on how and why I transitioned from a mathematician into a dog trainer. You can also listen to it now via the KUOW website.
Association of Pet Dog Trainers Position Statement
There has been a resurgence in citing “dominance” as a factor in dog behavior and dog-human relationships. This concept is based on outdated wolf studies that have long since been disproven. Contrary to popular belief, research studies of wolves in their natural habitat demonstrate that wolves are not dominated by an “alpha wolf” who is the most aggressive pack member. Rather, wolves operate with a social structure similar to a human family and depend on each other for mutual support to ensure the group’s survival. Read the rest of this entry »
We are now carrying Thundershirts in our online store (and in the little store at the training center). If there was a drug-free way to ease your dog’s fears, would you do it? I would! And the Thundershirt’s a lot less than the Anxiety Wrap (and easier to put on), almost half as expensive. We sell it for just $35.62!
I originally bought a Thundershirt for Peanut’s stress in the car. It helped! I even tried doing a comparison with having it on and off on different trips. 3 times with the Thundershirt – no shaking any of those times. 3 times without – shaking every time. TTouch practioners have known the benefits of anxiety wraps for a long time. Thundershirt is an affordable, attractive way to wrap your dog and reduce stress. Check out this video: Read the rest of this entry »
I just scheduled a seminar for dog trainers and advanced students, to teach a new system for working with behavior problems, called Behavior Adjustment Training, or BAT. The seminar is an hour and a half, Friday January 8th, 2010, from 8-9:30 p.m.
We also have an exciting visit from Patricia McConnell planned for September 12, 2010.
I love this pit bull video by John Shipe. Great dogs, great music! If they could only have filmed it without those prong collars and choke chains! Don’t they know pit bulls excel with reward-based training?
I’ve been singing it a lot since I saw this video, although I have to admit, I keep making up my own silly lyrics and singing them to my dogs, like “I’m a Pea-nut, I’m a black-furred, black nosed Pea-nut.”
This is the power of reinforcement. Check out this dog trick/dance video and the skills the dogs are doing! Look fun? Try our Canine Freestyle (dog dancing class) to get started in this fun sport. (This is not a dog trainer from our school in Seattle, but just a sample of what well-trained dogs can do).
Update: the organizers say they will be carding to avoid having too many dogs! 98117 and 98107 zip codes only!
There will be a fun gathering of dog folks at Ballard Commons on August 23rd. They’ve asked me to sponsor them, so there are three $50 Ahimsa Dog Training gift certificates to be had for their contest.
It’s not a commercial event – no tents, no booths, no microphones, just a gathering of dog folks and some contests with prizes. It’s a good place to go after the Sunday market in Ballard. It’s sponsored by the Seattle Parks Department as a non-commercial event.
Do you use the carrot, or the stick? In it’s regular meaning, the stick is used to prod the donkey forward, so it’s not the kind of method I use for dog training. But sticks can be used as rewards, too. I use sticks to reward my dog, Peanut, for walking politely. I can surprise him with a ‘treat’ without carrying anything on me at all. Surprise rewards are the best kind to use when training your dog.
Does your dog pull on leash or not come when called? Do you wish your dog would listen more? Follow our daily plan below to jump-start your dog training. Your dog won’t actually be Lassie yet, but you will have a lot more focus than you do right now. Focus is the essential foundation before you can train anything else.
For this exercise, we use either a clicker or a word, like “yes,” to mark instant that your dog earns a reward. Every time you mark (click or say, “yes,”) you owe a your dog a tangible reward, like a food treat or toy. (Read more about clicker training). When you mark a behavior, give your dog the reward within a few seconds.
Dreamlist Radio is an excellent website that helps people find the career of their dreams. Melissa Borghorst of Dreamlist Radio interviewed me for the Teen section of the website, and the questions focused on what teens can do to become a dog trainer. The answers, you’ll find, will work for people of any age who are considering becoming dog trainers.
A lot of people these days are finding they need to give up their dogs, cats, horses, or other animals because they can’t afford vet care. If you don’t have a pet yet, and are thinking about getting one, please make sure that you take into account the full costs of owning a living, breathing animal before you adopt or buy one. For example, expect a dog to cost $700-$2800 a year, or $10,000-$30,000 over the course of the dog’s lifetime (more info). Not all dogs end up being that expensive, but when we get them, we commit to be their caretakers – in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health.
But if you do already have a dog in need and you are thinking of rehoming or euthanizing your beloved family member, here are some organizations around the US (and beyond) that can help. Read the rest of this entry »
Once you teach your dog to “Target,” you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.Â The behavior here is that your dog touches her nose to a humanâ€™s hand, but this also works with a an actual target of some sort, like the Clik Stik pictured here.
I use targeting to move my dog around in space (from one side of the bed to the other, off of the couch, etc.). You can also teach them to heel nicely beside you or even to come to you. It’s great for teaching nervous dogs to go explore something that scares them, by having them touch your hand near the Scary Monster. It’s the foundation of “go say hi.” Read the rest of this entry »
Summer dog event! Come see us at the Summer Muttmixer at Rock Bottom Brewery, 1333 5th Avenue in Seattle. Ahimsa Dog Training will have a little booth set up (I’ll be there!) and the event is FREE.
Your dog is welcome, but do make sure it will be a pleasant experience for him/her. Whenever you attend an event like this, your dog’s mental and physical well-being should be first priority. Even if you have beer. Read the rest of this entry »
I gave a presentation at a school in West Seattle today and a good question from one of the teachers stuck with me. Can a Dog Sense Fear?
My answer to her was something like, “Yes, dogs do seem to be able to sense fear. But just sensing fear won’t make them decide to bite you if that’s not in their personality.” Thinking on it more, I should have said some things that fearful people do that clues the dogs in and what they can do to appear more confident. Read the rest of this entry »
There’s an article at ConsumerAffairs.com that claims the FDA is looking into claims of several deaths and a lot of sick dogs over the last two years.
However, I went to the Nutro website and they deny that the FDA is looking into their foods. You can read the Nutro website here. I don’t know who’s telling the truth, but if you do feed Nutro, it would be a good idea to look into this. It’s always best to be informed! UPDATE: See video in this post, which says Nutro’s right, there is NO FDA investigation.
Bo Obama, the Portuguese Water Dog, seems to be enjoying his new home in the White House.Â The Obama puppy’s big debut is Tuesday (tomorrow) but the press has already leaked his story.
And who wouldn’t enjoy being the First Dog, with two kids to love on you and great parents? When we were there for the inauguration, Jill and I checked out the size of that yard. Any dog in the DC area (heck, even a dog in Seattle) would be happy to have such a big space!
If it can’t actually hold your dogs in your yard, or keep trouble out, a fence can do more harm than good. It makes you feel like you have a fence, so you let your guard down. In one of my classes, a student with an aggressive dog said that they had a fenced yard. It turns out there is no gate, just a big gaping hole where the dog can get out!
I snapped this photo on a walk with Peanut in Seattle. There are two problems with this fence. The obvious one is the big hole where panels are missing and the dog can get out or other dogs or children can come in. The other is the height! If Peanut wanted to, he could easily jump over this fence. Read the rest of this entry »
The Seattle area has had their share of puppy mill busts, including the recent one in Snohomish County that is inundating Seattle with little rescue dogs and some big ones, too.
Tomorrow (March 27) ABC’s Nightline is doing a big expose on puppy mills. I haven’t seen it, but I imagine it’s terrible and gruesome and will make you wonder why animals have put up with us for so long. Read the rest of this entry »
Ever wish you had just the right way to tell young children how to meet a dog? There are some good books out there already, but Seattle artist Wendy Wahman has a great new book out that can help! I have to admit, I haven’t read the book yet, but I’m trying to get a copy so that we can use it as part of our Kids & Dogs training class at Ahimsa in Seattle and Bellevue. Read the rest of this entry »
The University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Science has released a pilot study that found that 1/4 of dogs trained with punishment/pinning/growling were likely to respond with aggression, versus almost no aggressive behavior that resulted from methods like the ones we use at Ahimsa.
Yes, you read that correctly. Methods that have the goal of dominating the aggressive dog with force were likely to cause aggression toward the owner and other people or dogs, rather than preventing it. Read the rest of this entry »
Why are reward trainers so sure that their methods are the more humane way to train? Because reward-based training works, and it works well, without harming or intimidating the dog.
But to get the best results with rewards, you need to know what you’re doing. The devil’s in the details when it comes to reinforcement. The more you know about training with rewards, the faster and more stress-free learning will be.
Reward trainers who only sort of know what they are doing just give fuel to the myth that training with rewards is somehow inferior. Don’t be that kind of trainer! Come to the Kathy Sdao Get SMART seminar on how to effectively use reinforcement on March 5-6, 2009 in Seattle, Washington. Read the rest of this entry »
The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior would like to let you know that Dominance – the idea that we need to overcome our dogs by force, lest they try to take over our homes, is outdated and leads to inhumane training.
Here’s some info from their Position Statement on Dominance issued in December, 2008:
“AVSAB is concerned with the recent re-emergence of dominance theory and forcing dogs and other animals into submission as a means of preventing and correcting behavior problems. For decades, some traditional animal training has relied on dominance theory and has assumed that animals misbehave primarily because they are striving for higher rank. This idea often leads trainers to believe that force or coercion must be used to modify these undesirable behaviors.” Read the rest of this entry »
81-year-old singer Patti Page is my new hero.Â You probably know her song, “How Much is That Doggie in the Window?”
Well…she’s decided to re-release the song, but has changed the lyrics to reflect the changing times and to promote her book, “This Is My Song.” She’s given the Humane Society of the US permission to use the lyrics to advertise their cause.
Here are the new lyrics, sung, of course, to the same tune of “How Much is that Doggie in the Window?”
This amazing video was made by a group of clicker trainers in Hungary. Just look at how happy and excited the dogs are. Â They are really enjoying themselves! They’re also doing complex tasks from a distance. Â Â
Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, if you love dogs, you’ll enjoy watching these well-trained dogs and appreciate the power of clicker training! Read the rest of this entry »
If you see the movie “Marley and Me,” you’ll note that Marley is unruly to say the least. In the Real World, Marley might not have had a happy ending. How could we make him a better fit for a regular family?
Read the following press release from the Association of Pet Dog Trainers to learn more about Marley and how his family could benefit from positive dog training. Read the rest of this entry »
If you live in or near Seattle, you know that it snowed in the Puget Sound last night. We woke up to inches of blissful snow! Â Almost nobody is driving. Â I even saw two buses that are stuck on the road next to my house.
If you have a puppy, you should be especially happy about the snow. If you aren’t off of work because of the snow already, you should go home to take this chance to be with your puppy.
My soulmateÂ dog, Peanut, went to the vet to have an epulis in his mouth removed last week. Â The good news? It’s not cancer! And it was small enough that they could remove it without taking out any teeth, thank dog. Â
The bad news? He’s a wreck at the vet and it was a $500 experience. Â Dogs are not cheap!
The picture here is Peanut as a baby. Â He’s 6 now and I saw at the vet that once dogs turn 7, it’s a time to look for a “rapid decline in the dog’s health.” Wonderful. He’s almost a Senior Dog.
Now is as good as a time as any to say that if your older dog is suddenly aggressive or shows other brand new behaviors, it’s probably health related.
Did you miss our last photo opportunity? Â Here’s another chance to support PAWS and get some fun photos of your dog, to boot! Â Last time, Ahimsa students raised a LOT of $$ for PAWs with Alyssa Rose Photography. Â The photo above is from that photo shoot.
Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season can be dangerous for dogs. Cooked bones, especially turkey & chicken, can splinter and cause choking or intestinal problems, even death. While most of us know not to feed it to the dog on purpose, your guests may not know this or your dog may get bones out of the trash. Read the rest of this entry »
Walking your dog off leash is like picking your nose, but more dangerous.
Both are something that no one else should have to see you doing.Â Okay, it’s not quite the same – dogs LOVE to be off leash, and it’s a lot of fun.Â If you know the dog is safe, it’s enjoyable to watch.Â But some people are afraid of dogs, some are allergic, and some dogs don’t like other dogs. And picking your nose isn’t against the law. On a trail, when the people you meet don’t know you and your dog, and vice versa, it’s important that leash your dog up as soon as you know they might be in contact with another person.
Cocoa Mulch, which was sold by Home Depot, Foreman’s Garden Supply and other garden supply stores, contains a lethal ingredient called ‘Theobromine’. It is poisonois for dogs and cats. Cocoa Mulch smells like chocolate and it attracts dogs. They may ingest Cocoa Mulch and if they eat a lot of it, they can die quickly.Â Just a word of caution, check what you are using in your gardens!
Your dogs may also find cocoa mulch out on walks, so be careful!
We want our dogs to respond to usÂ in any kind of situation.Â When training their dogs to behave in the face of big distractions, people tend to make a few key errors and throw their dogs in over their heads. A solid understanding of the principles of positive dog training might also help Sarah Palin prepare for interviews.
Imagine being chained to a tree year after year. You watch the door, hoping someone will come out to play. No one ever does. You long to run, but you can only pace. You shiver in winter and pant in summer. Loose dogs come to beat you up, and you can’t run away. Children taunt you and, again, you can’t run away.
King County Council (Washington State) is looking into the feasibility of implementing legislation to prohibit chaining dogs. Deliberations about whether they should look into it end October 20th, so please contact the council asap.
Beverly Hills Chihuahua opened in movie theaters this weekend. Chihuahua lovers everywhere have flocked to see it. People in the dog business have mixed feelings when we see dog movies. The dog-lover part of our personality is glad to see an oh-so-cute dog movie. The part of us that cares about the dogs cringes, because we know that the next thing that will happen is that people will be getting Chihuahuas, Dalmations, etc. for their children and then promptly returning them to the shelter when they turn out to be less fun than the movie actors. Yes, those dogs are actors! Even Chihuahuas can act!
Mark your calendar!Â The Humane Society for Seattle/King County is hosting a Walk for the Animals event on Saturday, Oct. 4, from 9:00 a.m. â€“ Noon at University Village in Seattle. If you have a friendly dog that would enjoy this event, please support the animals.Â Click here for more info.
Is there a middle ground between banning pit bulls in Seattle and ignoring the fact that attacks like the recent awful, terrible, scary mauling of a 71-year-old woman keep happening, by dogs reported to be pit bulls? I think so. It’s not enough to target pit bulls.Â We need to prevent aggression from all breeds. Â I don’t think we should settle for protecting Seattle against pit bulls. Legislation should apply to all dog breeds, whenever possible, for the most possible protection.
My dog was featured in an interview of Ellen Taft, a woman who wants to ban pit bulls and many other breeds as service dogs. My dog has a big head and looks like a pit bull, though she’s actually a Boxer mix, possibly with Greyhound. Ellen Taft definitely has it out for pit bull type dogs, but also mentioned that, among other breeds, Greyhounds shouldn’t be service dogs because, and I quote, “A Greyhound is a very, very stupid dog. It was trained for one purpose, it was trained to run.”
I get contacted a lot by people who have fallen in love with dog training and want to learn how to become a professional dog trainer. I decided to write this blog post so that I can quickly give a helpful answer.
Seattle Metropolitan Magazine has an annual Best of the City issue. As the founder of Ahimsa Dog Training, I was featured as the “Trailblazer” in Seattle Met. Fox chose three of the Trailblazers to feature on their morning show and interviewed me with my dogs at the training center in Seattle. (The dogs are Sagan – Boxer mix, Peanut – border collie / whippet, & Spoon – border collie / hound). Click here to see the Fox “Best of the Best” Interview. The video is sometimes broken, and refreshing the Fox website seems to help.
There’s a big 3D picture in the Seattle Metropolitan magazine (page 96). Thanks again to the puppy class students for putting up with the photo shoot!
A group called Families Against Breed Bans that works to block Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) in the Seattle area and elsewhere. There has been talk of creating a breed ban in Seattle for pit bulls or “fighting breeds” and I know that this is *not* the answer. Read the rest of this entry »
Hi folks! In May, I’m going to redesign several of the classes, including Puppy & the Basic and Better Manners classes. If you have taken any of those classes and are interested in helping us teach more effectively, I’d love your feedback. I need ideas on what you liked as well as what you didn’t. If you didn’t finish the class, why not? If you continued to the next class, why? Were you happy that you did? Just reply to this email with ideas. Thanks!