Release Commands

Roxy holding a Stay command, with distraction!

Roxy holding a Stay command, with distractions! 

What is a release command? It’s a command you give your dog when you want him to be done with whatever you’re having him do. Is he holding a stay for you and its okay for him to move around now? You give a command. It’s usually “okay,” but do you realize how often you say okay? We say it all the time in daily conversation, which can be confusing for a dog.

My release command is Break for all things, except food. Break has become a very exciting word, and she already slurps down her food fast enough, I don’t need her to be more excited about it. So I made a new command for food, Take It.

Sometimes I’ll set food down to test her. I’ll say words like “Banana,” that start with a B, or “Train” that start with a T, to throw her off, and to make her use her brain and earn her food. Well a random word I used in this test was “Raffle Ticket” and she dove into her food! “No!” I exclaimed in surprise. She’d gotten really good at this, why would she think that that was a release? “Raffle Ticket,” I try again. She goes for it again!

That’s when I realize, this was my fault, not hers. Ticket sounds just like Take It! So she thought I was giving her the command to eat.

This is why common words like “okay” are so bad. Let’s picture this scenario. You’re on the couch, eating some pizza, talking on the phone with a friend. They ask you how you’re doing, you say “okay,” and suddenly your dog grabs a slice of pizza straight off of your plate as you yell in surprise! What was he thinking? Where did that come from? Well, he was begging nicely, and you gave him his release command, so he took that pizza!

I see this a lot, but in different scenarios, and half the time you don’t even realize what the problem was. It was a fluke, you think, he just suddenly thought the pizza was his, when really, you were basically shoving it into his mouth!

When choosing a release command, make sure it’s not something you would not use very often in normal conversation. You, your dog, and your pizza, will appreciate it in the long run.


Structured Fetch: Benefits and How-Tos

Nakia & Bravo hold a sit stay while waiting for the stick to be thrown.

Nakia & Bravo hold a sit stay while waiting for the stick to be thrown.

Playing fetch can be a good aerobic exercise for your furry friend as well as a great way to bond with one another. Some dogs will play fetch naturally while others may need to be taught or may have no interest in the game at all. Playing fetch with your dog is a good physical exercise but most dogs lack the mental exercise they need in their daily lives. Fetch for many dogs becomes a mindless game of chasing a ball, stick or other toy. By adding a little more structure to this activity we not only make it a wonderful training exercise but we  work our dog’s mind as well as their body. Structured fetch will help wear your dog out a lot faster and will help reduce destructive behaviors like chewing and digging. Dogs often chew and dig because of this lack of mental stimulation.

So, how do you add more structure to the game of fetch? Well, start by simply asking your dog to sit before throwing the ball. As soon as your dog sits, reward him or her by throwing the toy and saying “fetch”. You will find with most dogs that eventually when you have the ball or toy, your dog will automatically sit. Once your dog has become good at this exercise, start asking him or her to sit for longer periods of time before throwing the object. And again when they have this down begin asking him or her to stay while you throw the ball. Sometimes you may need to hold your dog’s collar or have the dog on leash when you begin this exercise. Especially for those dogs who are extremely ball focused. Then begin asking your dog to do different things for the ball, for example “lay down” or “speak”. Be careful with the speak command though as some dogs will then start barking every time they drop the ball. If your dog does this, DO NOT throw the ball. Throwing the ball is a reward for good behavior. Do not reward behaviors you do not want.

Daisy practices her impulse control.

Daisy practices her impulse control.

Making your dog work for the ball will help build the bond between you two. It will help teach your dog impulse control and will bring you closer. Your dog will learn that nothing in life is free and come to respect you as a leader providing something he or she values. If you need more assistance with teaching your dog structured fetch, give us a call today. We would be more than happy to help out!

Spring in February?!?


Tuesday is warm and sunny, Wednesday is freezing and snowing…only in Utah

20140218_113327[1]Yesterday’s hike up in Bountiful felt just like spring. The normally frozen creek bubbling down canyon. The trail covered in mud spots or even hard packed dirt. The sun glistened against Tuggs’ golden coat. We didn’t see another soul on the trail, enjoying the spring-like day all to ourselves. While Tuggs loves to play with the pack, I think he quite enjoyed having a little solo time this afternoon. I know I enjoyed the peace and quiet and the meditate stillness that came with listening to the stream. These are the days I am so thankful for being blessed enough to have the career I have. I expected to spend the day inside at my desk doing paperwork but was so happy to receive a call from Tuggs’ mom asking me to hike him. I always enjoy hiking up in Bountiful and getting out of the city. Seeing the butterflies dance through the warm air with one another, I am trying so hard not to start planting my garden after all it’s still only February…..and it being Utah, it is now dumping snow outside and here I am spending the day at my computer doing office work.


Frollicking through the spring snow

Tuggs enjoying the warm sunshine

Things to Consider Before You Adopt That Fuzzy Puppy

peek-a-boo-1150128-mThe decision to get a dog needs to be carefully thought out. A dog is a big commitment. They take lots of time and attention. Most dogs live an average of 10 to 12 years. Some dogs can live up to 20 years old! My childhood dog lived to be 19! I can only hope that my current dogs will bless my life for as long as Kelsi did. Choosing to adopt a dog means adding a new member to your family. Are you prepared to walk it every day? To make sure someone is there to let them out to go to the bathroom every 6 – 8 hours, or every 2-4 for a puppy? Are you prepared to put in the time to train the dog and provide proper leadership?

If you just head out and get that adorable puppy, you might end up with an adult dog that is just too big, too active or just doesn’t fit you and your family. So, you have considered all the angles and you’re going to make the plunge. But what kind of dog should you get? I strongly suggest doing some serious and careful research if you have a breed in mind. While every dog is an individual they all seem to carry at least some of their breed traits. Consider health issues, tendencies, grooming, etc. For example, most hounds live to follow a scent. These dogs will often put their nose to the ground when they catch a scent and follow it to the end regardless of your calling them back to you. Jack Russel Terriers are full of energy and require LOTS of exercise. Most cattle dogs require some kind of job to be happy, otherwise, you end up with a dog who is herding cars and the neighbor children.

While all puppies are adorable (in my opinion to keep us from ringing their little necks when they chew up your brand new shoes or pee all over that expensive rug)  it is important to find one with a personality and temperament that will fit you and your family. Do you want an active dog who you can hike 7 miles a day or a mellow coach potato? What about a dog who is friendly with everyone and loves to be pet? Or a dog who is loyal to the family and more suspicious of strangers? Also keep in mind that breeds like German Shepherds, Huskies and Chihuahuas are more vocal than most other breeds while dogs like the Besenji don’t bark at all.

Another thing to consider is the size. As I mentioned, puppies of all breeds are adorable but that cute little Great Dane puppy is going to grow up to be the size of a small pony! That also means lots of food and well, lots of poop.

Lastly, consider fostering from your local shelter or rescue group first. This will help you decide if you are really ready for a dog before making the full commitment. Who knows, your foster may end up being the dog of your dreams!

E-Collar, The ForceFree Way with Chicago Dog Trainer’s Marc Goldberg

20131025_170401-1-1[2]This week I was lucky enough to be able to take a workshop by one of my idols, Marc Goldberg. The workshop Intro to E-collar; The ForceFree Way was so beneficial in increasing my knowledge on e-collar training. I can not wait to apply all that I learned to our current clients as well as to all of our future ones. We already have two dogs signed up for e-collar Board and Trains so it is looking like it is going to be a very busy month especially with the holidays coming. Speaking of which, if you are in need of boarding during that time schedule your slot as soon as possible. Things are filling up fast!

Marc Goldberg doing e-collar work with puppy Birdie

Marc Goldberg doing e-collar work with puppy Birdie

Puppy Birdie having a blast doing e-collar work with Marc Goldberg

Puppy Birdie having a blast doing e-collar work with Marc Goldberg

Daisy waiting patiently in the warm fall sunshine for her turn to work on the e-collar

Daisy waiting patiently in the warm fall sunshine for her turn to work on the e-collar

The group of trainers and dog owners who attended the workshop

The amazing group of trainers and dog owners who attended the workshop