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Discover your dog’s potential! – Joy of working with pet dogs

Over a month ago, I was stopped by a man when I was about to leave a park with my dogs. The man had been watching me playing with the dogs, practising some heelwork and dance moves. He said “Very impressive! Can you help train my daughter’s dogs?” At that time I took it as a polite compliment but gave him my business card just in case. Then, the next day his wife sent me a text message inquiring about my services as a dog trainer. Their dogs didn’t have any serious behavioural issues but the family, except for the husband who had experience in dog training, were having trouble keeping their dogs under control.

Tucker (left) and Mellie

Since then, we have been training at their home once a week. This morning we had our fifth session. The older of their two dogs in particular has made a significant improvement in the last one month since our first session.

His name is Tucker. 6 years old. He had never been to classes. When I first met him, he was unable to lie down on cue even with luring. But, within a month, in addition to some behaviours he had already, he has learned: down, hand touch, follow a finger, spin & circle, shake hands, leg weaves & figure 8’s, fetch & drop, peekaboo, paws up on an object, hoop/bar/baton jump, high five, wave, chin rest, food refusal, go around, ring a call bell, stay, bow, and more. No wonder he was a maniac chewer. Despite being so clever, he didn’t have a job.

Tucker practising food refusal

A month ago he was hard to keep under control. But, now that he gets to work with his family twice or more every day, he is a pleasure for his family to live with, and more importantly he is much happier!!!

 

 

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Defy the odds – Are Beagles really untrainable?

Let me introduce my first training partner and great teacher, Cinnamon.

The above photo was taken on the day she joined our family in September 2007. At that time we had an older Beagle called Cookie. But, I had never thought about teaching him anything other than domestic obedience commands, such as Sit, Down, and Come. In addition I didn’t expect much from Cookie because I was frequently told “Beagles are untrainable”

However, things changed when I noticed Cinnamon’s mental and physical agility. Within a few days after her arrival, she started showing her exceptional physical ability by escaping from her puppy pen a few times. We never saw the scene of crime, but we found her in the hallway in the middle of night. When we went to check her puppy pen, it hadn’t moved or broken. So, the only way she could have got out was climbing over the pen or crate to get out.

When Cinnamon was 14 months old, we joined an Agility class. However, until the last a couple of sessions, I was unable to run her off leash, because I didn’t trust her recall. 

A few months before Cinnamon made a debut in an Agility competition, I got my first clicker along with a target stick and a clicker training guidebook. Once we started clicker training, I was hooked instantly! Cinnamon enjoyed it from the beginning too. She was amazing, learning new behaviours quickly and proving that “Beagles are untrainable” was a false myth.

The first thing I tried using a clicker was teach my dogs to touch my hand or a target stick with their noses. Once they learned it, we practised foundation behaviours such as Sit, Down, and Stand, and Cinnamon quickly learned to do them only with verbal commands.

Well, we had a great start to clicker training but not everything went so well in terms of our training. I am going to tell you about countless challenges we have gone through in the subsequent posts.