Heading Back into the Office? Help Make It a Smooth Transition for Your Dog

As many of us start thinking about venturing back into the office after months working from home, there seem to be more questions than answers. One of those questions for loving pet guardians is, “Will my dog have separation anxiety after quarantine?” While every situation is different and hopefully most pets may not suffer from true, clinical separation anxiety, the transition is likely to present some challenges for the whole family, including your Inquisitive Canine. Here are a few tips to prepare your dog for when you go back to the office, ways to reduce stress, toys to provide, training concepts and advice about when to reach out to professionals.

Practice, practice, practice

A great approach dog guardians can take is to begin planning and implementing dress rehearsals sooner rather than later…as in now. Even if you are still working from home, pretend you’re going to the office sometimes. Go through all the motions as if you are leaving home. Each detail is important – your dog picks up on every cue -that’s what being an inquisitive canine is all about! So, think of all the sights (office attire? uniform?), sounds (car keys clanking?) and even scents (perfume? or- let’s be honest -freshly showered?) associated with heading off to work. This will help get the routine established, giving your dog time to transition gradually to the upcoming changes. Invest some time each day for practice. Leave your pups alone for short periods at first, lengthening the amount of time slowly, so they have a better chance to adapt more easily.  

Expect the unexpected

The truth is, even with advanced preparation, you may need to make some adjustments along the way. This is why it’s important to “train it before you need it.” By accessing remote cameras when you are away from home, you can witness your dog’s reaction to your absence. This information will help give insight into any training steps you may need to take. Your pooch may enjoy the “me  time” at home, without any issues during the work day. On the flip side, he or she might begin to stress out, realizing you’re not around all the time. Again, dress rehearsals can help identify and address some potential issues. 

Harnessing indoor happiness

Using enrichment toys, whether a dog is home alone or not, is key for building independence and self-confidence. For more on enrichment such as nose games and interactive toys, check out this post from TransPaw Gear

It’s okay to ask for help

If a dog truly has separation anxiety, toys and other distractions may not help. Pairing food puzzles with being home alone might even make it so your dog doesn’t want to eat at all when you’re gone. For true separation anxiety, seek out professional help (force-free only, of course).  If you intend to leave your dog home alone for longer periods, consider doggy daycare or a dog walker. Make time to introduce your dog to these outside resources before heading back to the office. This way, you are not rushed and can intervene if your dog seems stressed. Finding the right match for your situation is another place dress rehearsals can make a big difference, both for your pet’s comfort level and your own. 

Remember to have fun

Lastly, pet parents should make sure they are still providing for their dogs’ physical and mental needs at every opportunity. Down time is key, but so is bonding time. Who knows? A little fun and adventure with your bestie might be great for you during this transition too. So, when you are not in the office, here’s to unleashing adventures and harnessing fun with your Inquisitive Canine!

Do Social Distancing and Severe Weather Look Alike? Dog Trainers Weigh In

Since The Inquisitive Canine is based in California, we realized we don’t really deal with many of the things that keep folks stuck indoors during the winter months. For those who are not as fortunate (in our opinion), we were curious to learn how they are able to find new adventures indoors, when the outdoors is not cooperating. While we recognize that self-isolation during a global pandemic is not exactly the same as inclement weather, there are probably some overlaps!

Could this sheltering-in-place be less challenging for those who endure long, arduous winters every year, since they might be used to having to be indoors? We reached out to colleagues and asked how they got through the winter blues, in the hopes that it will inspire you to soldier on during this more challenging time.

Here’s what we learned:

Maya Kolankowska

Student, The Academy for Dog Trainers, Quebec, Canada

TPG: What type of activities do you engage in with your dog when stuck indoors during the winter? This could be things you do with your dog, or enrichment activities to keep them busy on their own.

dog training fun outdoorsMK: My Boston terrier has arthritis in both front legs, so I cannot do lots of high-intensity play with lots of direction change indoors. We have to resort to training and mental stimulation. I have a lot of Nina Ottosson puzzles, interactive toys that are stuffed and frozen and given each day. I also do mini-training sessions, and I prepare surprise treat/kibble boxes, and up the level of difficulty gradually. Another favourite thing of mine is having her “go find” her food, which I hide. She is really good at it now. Finally, we also do tug sessions where we practice cues like drop, leave it, and take it.

TPG: What are some of your favorite things to do throughout the year?

MK: We enjoy hiking, either on a long lead or off leash, walking in the woods, meeting new doggy friends and practicing positive interactions. I have amazing neighbours who are more than happy to work with me and our dogs.

TPG: Are there any types of activities you save for this time of year? How do you change up your routine, if at all?

MK: I tend to do more mental enrichment during winter months since my dog does not enjoy winters. Once it is nicer, we practice outside with more distractions and do some refreshers on those behaviors.

TPG: How are things different with COVID-19 isolation compared to winter conditions where you are?

MK: We do not frequent dog parks due to my dog’s arthritis, but we are definitely missing out on social doggie interactions on our walks. At other times, I would usually tend to walk with neighbours, especially if their dog is “reactive”; this helps my dog and theirs.

Jennifer Pratt, CTC, CSAT, CPDT-KA

Owner, Wag the Dog and Company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

TPG: What type of activities do you engage in with your dog when stuck indoors during the winter? This could be things you do with your dog, or enrichment activities to keep them busy on their own. 

Wag the Dog Puzzle ToyJP: I up the food puzzle rotation even more than we already do otherwise, and find new ways to teach him new tricks that are variations of using hand targeting as a base. 

TPG: What are some of your favorite things to do throughout the year? 

JP: Teaching him new tricks that I make up and find entertaining!  Working on husbandry training to up my game for both my dog and my clients.

TPG: Are there any types of activities you save for this time of year? 

JP: Honestly, no. There is just more time to devote to indoor use of feeders.  (We use them outside in the yard to up the hunting factor when it is nice out!)

TPG: How are things different with COVID-19 isolation compared to winter conditions where you are? 

JP: With me having less work coming in, Ed and I have been able to take longer sniffaris. 

TPG: What have you considered doing once the snow melts and you’re able to go outside? If you’re still under quarantine, how will things change for you? Will you keep up the same routine you use in winter, or do something else? 

JP: My dog loves being outside when it is nice out, so we will be adding in trips to go and find new sniffari locations for him to explore, and spending more time outside with me gardening and him sunbathing.

No matter where you are, or the conditions you may be experiencing, you can see that both physical and mental enrichment are important for your dog’s well-being. Maybe now is a great time to set up that indoor obstacle course, train that trick you’ve been wanting your dog to learn, or clean out your t-shirt drawer and make a new toy for them to play with.

Wanna join the conversation? Just head to the comment section below. Care to share pics and videos of your inquisitive or adventurous canine? We invite you to post on our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter – Tweet to us and well Tweet ya back!

Tips for Staying Sane (and Staying Indoors) With Your Dog During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Over the past few weeks, planet Earth has spun into a surreal state. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, countries around the globe have been affected, leading many humans to transition into self-monitored quarantine status. This happened quickly, which meant we did not have time to plan. Now that a few weeks have gone by, we’re starting to settle in to our new normal. But, what does that mean for our relationships with our canine companions?

Fortunately, in many areas of the world, we’re still allowed to take our dogs for a walk outdoors. But what about indoor entertainment? For those of you who are spending more time indoors with your dogs, it can still be fun. Why not turn lemons into lemonade and go through that “If I only had more time…” checklist of some of the things you’ve been wanting to do with your dog.

Here are a few ideas to get you started!

    • Make your own dog toy. This is especially handy for folks who are cleaning out their closets — old socks and T-shirts make for good materials. Need some inspiration?
      • Here’s are a number of DIY dog toy ideas from care.com. When making my own toys, I prefer using old T-shirts, socks, water bottles, etc. Stay away from any items that could hurt the dog, like small pieces of things they can choke on. Always observe your dog with a new toy to make sure they don’t harm themselves.
      • Consider making a DIY snuffle mat. This wonderful toy encourages your dog to use their sense of smell to find treats hidden within the mat. It’s a great indoor energy burner for any dog since scent games are so mentally tiring for them.
    • In addition to toys, there are lots of indoor enrichment opportunities for your dog. These activities to keep them physically and mentally busy. Here are some ideas to get you started, or you can Google dog enrichment and find lots of information.
  • Read up on dog behavior and training! Dogwise is a publisher with tons of wonderful titles available for all interest levels. One of our favorites is The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson. Inquisitive Canine trainer Joan Mayer calls it her bible!
  • Stock up on some new goods! Need training supplies to help get your game on at home? We love a supplier called Doggone Good Clicker Company.
  • Let the training games begin! Brush up on those most-needed skills at home — maybe it’s basic manners, such as sitting at doorways, down-stay on their bed while you eat dinner, sitting on a mat when the front door opens in order to welcome company politely, coming when called, or leaving things alone when asked
  • Get your groom on. Teach your dog to be comfortable having their teeth brushed and nails trimmed. Check out the Nailed It!! Program, where anyone can sign up and learn how to give their dog a pedi-pedi.
  • Create an indoor obstacle course. Set up stations throughout the house — sit in the bedroom, down-stay in the office, fetch in the hallway, tug in the kitchen, their favorite trick in the living room. Make a list of behaviors your dog knows, and set yourself a course. It’s like circuit training for dogs!!
  • Get fit with Fido. Looking to amp up your own workout routine? Pair up with your dog and become workout buddies. Have your dog do one behavior while you do another. For instance, you do sit-ups, push-ups, or squats while your dog does a sit-stay, down-stay, or puppy-push-up (sit to down to sit to down.). You do a burpee, your dog does a spin or jump. (Make sure you both are cleared by your respective medical professionals for your exercise program.)

Although these are difficult times for many people, and we are finding ourselves in largely uncharted territory, it doesn’t have to be difficult to keep your dog occupied when you’re stuck indoors. Comment to tell us what you end up choosing to do with your pup!

Top Tips to Make Training Your Dog a Breeze

Sometimes dogs can seem like alien creatures to us. They eat things we find gross. They don’t speak our language (even though it sometimes seems like they do). Dog training can look like sorcery to the untrained eye. Here we’ve provided you with key tips to decode your dog and get better results from your training program!

  • Know what you want your dog to do. Picture it as clearly as you can. We often focus on what our dogs are doing wrong, but it’s much more helpful to focus on what we would like them to do Is your dog jumping on guests? Perhaps a sit would be better? Begging at the table? Wouldn’t it be lovely if the dog lay calmly on their bed instead? Focusing on the positive, and actually visualizing exactly how you want the finished behavior to look, will help in several ways. First, it will give you a clear goal to work toward. Second, it will let you notice what your dog is already doing right, which you can then proactively reinforce so it happens more.
  • Know your dog. Dogs are individuals, with varied likes and dislikes, and distinct personalities. Knowing your dog really well allows you to create a training plan that caters to their strengths, making it easier for both of you. Seeing what really gets your dog jazzed – liver treats, a game of fetch, a trip to the dog park – can help you select the most motivating reinforcers when you’re working on new behaviors. Knowing your dog well will also help you have realistic expectations for what they can achieve. Your terrier (bred for barking) may never be totally silent at the sound of the doorbell, but three barks followed by a stay on their mat is totally feasible! Your hound may always walk with their nose to the sidewalk, but they can do that while at your side instead of pulling on their leash like a freight train.
  • Reward what you like. It’s easy to miss it when your dog is behaving perfectly, but it’s important that you “catch them in the act” of making good choices or minding their manners. As you reinforce the behaviors you like, they’ll happen more often. When your dog is getting good at certain behaviors, cue the dog to perform those behaviors instead of engaging in behaviors you don’t want.  A solid down-stay on a dog bed can keep a counter surfer under control, and a strong sit is, again, a great way to keep a jumpy greeter from jumping.
  • Set your dog up for success. Dogs are so incredibly adaptable that we often forget how confusing our human world can be to them. We can make things easier by setting clear rules and showing our dogs what is and is not appropriate canine behavior, rather than expecting them to guess. Managing the dog’s environment is also critical. It’s important that a dog’s world is interesting and enriching, but we also need to do what we can to prevent unwanted behaviors. This can include creating a safe area for a new puppy while they’re learning the ropes regarding what to chew and where to eliminate, clearing off kitchen surfaces to prevent counter surfers from succeeding on their quests, and anything else that staves off an unwanted behavior by changing the environment rather than trying to change the dog. In short, make your dog’s world as conducive as possible to helping them “get it right the first time.”
  • Plan ahead! Think about what behaviors you would like your dog to perform, and in what environments it will be important for the dog to perform them, and then practice those behaviors in those environments well ahead of time. Dogs need time to synthesize new information before it is solid, and even once they’ve got it in one context, they will likely need to relearn it in a situation that looks totally different. Have patience and plan ahead to make sure your relationship with your dog remains harmonious.
  • Think hard about the question: “Why is my dog doing this?” First, consider whether what’s happening is a normal behavior for the dog. Dogs eat, eliminate, chew, dig, and bark, and all of that is entirely natural. That doesn’t mean you must throw up your hands and accept whatever is happening. These behaviors can and should be directed to appropriate channels. The next thing to think about is whether an unwanted behavior is being reinforced, either by you, someone else, or the dog’s environment. Understanding the “why” behind a behavior from a dog’s perspective can help you sort this out. If your dog barks for attention and you yell, they may see that as good enough or “better than nothing” attention, and bark more often. Finally, ask yourself if you have taught your dog what you want them to do instead. Your dog may simply be doing the unwanted thing because no one has presented another option! This brings us full circle back to our first tip, figuring out what you want your dog to do, and then teaching them how to do it.

These strategies are the foundation of any good behavior program, and in fact, they are the true foundation of a strong human-canine relationship. If you’re stuck at any point along the way, contact us for help! We want you and your dog to succeed as a team! When you do, everyone will benefit.

Dealing with Cujo Canine, How to Make Dog Walk More Manageable

Dear Inquisitive Canine,

I adopted Isla (German Shepherd mix) from a shelter about a month ago.  She’s approximately 9 months old now and she’s very sweet…95% of the time.  However, despite some prior exposure in her young life, to walking on a leash, we can be out for a walk or on a potty trip and for no apparent reason she will go all Cujo on me.  Writhing, bucking, and biting…anything that might work to free her from the restrictive nature of the leash.  There are no other dogs present, no people, no stimuli to warrant Cujo showing up.  She’s just royally ticked off that she’s on that leash and by golly, she wants to be free of it.

The best I can do at this point is to get a death grip on her collar, which affords me some protection from those pearly white, sharp teeth, and calmly talk her down off the ledge.  Sometimes that works on the first go, sometimes not.  Even if I have treats on me, for other pursuits (sit, down, stay), I feel like giving her a treat, once she’s calm from the meltdown, will give her the wrong idea.  I even bought a muzzle, but I’m 64 years old and getting that sucker on her is simply NOT happening.  I am in the process of de-weeding a fenced area in my back yard and giving her the supervised opportunity to burn off some pent up energy, but that may make it worse when she is leashed.

Any suggestions, short of getting one of those padded suits (which won’t bode well in a Texas summer) and toughing it out?

Thanks,

Isla’s Worn Out Mom

Dear Isla’s Mom,

Sounds like you’re both getting quite the workout! It also sounds like there are a few challenges that definitely need to be addressed. We’d be happy to provide a few dog training tips.

  • Triggers – although you mention there’s no apparent reason, if the “Cujo behavior” keeps happening, there is likely a trigger somewhere. Even if it’s an internal trigger such as, “We’ve been out here for X amount of time and now I’m bored and frustrated.” Consider the time-factor. Is it immediate? After she has gone potty? Is it the overall pace of the walk? Would she rather run than stroll?
  • Function of the behavior – Keep in mind that all behaviors have a function – to either get something or avoid something. Does Isla enjoy the Cujo game with you? If she does, and you don’t, then switch up the game. Reinforce the behaviors you like and want, before she goes into her whirling dervish mode. Walking nicely on leash is what you want, yes? Teach her that skill and reward her with treats, petting, praise, and anything else you can give her while out in public. (A game of tug or fetch perhaps?) If you teach and practice those skills first, then she’ll know what the right choice is.
  • Treats – what types of treats are you using? For a situation as challenging as leash walking, you might need to up the game. Higher value such as little bits of boiled chicken or steak might be more motivating for her. Isla will let you know what she prefers. And, make sure she’s hungry. (Not starving.) If you’re feeding her a big breakfast, then going on a walk, she’s less likely to want food. So, use her meals to your advantage while training her.
  • Shape her behavior – because of her age, and this particular challenge, you might want to start out with shorter but more frequent training sessions. Instead of 30 minutes, go for 2-3 10-15 minute sessions. This is especially true if she starts going Cujo at a certain point. For instance, if she’s fine up until the 12-minute mark, then go for 10 minutes. Give her a break then go again. This might be a bit more inconvenient for you, initially, but once she’s trained you’ll be able to venture out for longer periods. It’s also good to practice in lower distracting environments – around your home and yard, before heading out to the streets.

Remember to reward behaviors you like and want, teach Isla what you want, and set her up for success so she learns what the right behavior is and can make better choices.

The Pros and Cons of Owning More Than One Dog

If you’ve been considering bringing a second (or third…or fourth…) dog into your home, you might be asking yourself questions such as “Should I” “Should I not?” As with most new endeavors, it should begin with a plan – of some sort. In the beginning stages of contemplation, your initial plan might begin with a general pros and cons list. So for this specific blog post, we decided to collaborate with fellow animal advocate Allie Cooper of PetPaw&Tail18. She has graciously provided some helpful info to help you start your journey into answering questions you may have.


There are numerous benefits of having a multi-canine household. But this of course also comes with additional responsibilities. The following is a little pros and cons list we’ve developed for dog owners, to help answer the “should” questions, along with any others they may have come up with. 

Pros

Helps Dogs Socialize

PetMD explains that dogs may go into fight or flight mode when faced with strange people, animals, and environment, resulting in experiencing increased stress. Dogs who are not used to being walked in public, seeing new faces and smelling other inquisitive canines might appear shy or even display signs of aggression. It’s very important that puppies get accustomed to these situations early on through force-free puppy classes, where he or she can be introduced to other dogs, people, and situations.

Professional dog trainer and author of Plays Well With Others Pat Miller claims that playtime with other well-trained dogs can teach them social skills. This may result from reading and mimicking appropriate body language and displayed behaviors. Although, it’s vital to ensure that the introduction is gradual and that the older dog they are learning from is well-behaved and non-aggressive. This can help your new puppy become more comfortable, less fearful, and grow into a healthy and happy pooch.

As for older pets, the senior pet wellness article posted by Maryville University adds that they may benefit from getting socialization and companionship, depending on their personality. However, getting older dogs accustomed to other dogs and unfamiliar environments might take more time and patience as they may have already become set in their ways.

More Companionship

Dogs have long been considered man’s best friend and have proven their place as great companions. Having more pets can enhance the physical, emotional and social benefits of pet ownership such as feelings of love and delight. It may also provide more opportunities to create bonds with other pet owners and animal lovers.

More Incentive – and Options for Exercise

Owners will be encouraged to get more exercise when walking or playing with their pets. The study published by BMC Public Health revealed that dog owners added an average of 22 minutes to their daily walk compared to those who did not have dogs. They walked at an average pace of 3 miles per hour which falls under CDC’s prescription for moderate intensity exercise. Considering that lack of movement is linked to obesity, having more than one dog can help owners become more active and health conscious. Furthermore, if different dogs require different exercise durations and methods, owners can provide each dog with what he or she needs while getting twice (or more) exercise sessions themselves.

Cons

Added Expense

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Of course, having more than one pet also means having more than one mouth to feed, more than one cuddly body to groom, and more companions to bring to the vet.

Time Magazine’s report shows that small to big dogs typically cost $1,001 to $1,448 annually. The breakdown does not include fees like spay and neuter services or other types of resources that dogs with special conditions might require.

Increased Risk for More Chaos

Dogs will be dogs. And, when humans neglect them, they will often entertain themselves. Sometimes their choices can be good, like playing with enrichment toys or their siblings. Other times, he or she might decide to partake in behaviors we humans would deem destructive. It is the owner’s responsibility to watch after them, train them, and keep them happy and entertained.

If you have time to go out for walks only once a day, you’ll want to make sure the entire group can go together successfully. If you need to take the dogs’ separately, then you’ll need to adjust your schedule. Will each walk be shorter so you can meet your time commitment? Or, will you need to recruit help?  In addition to our recommendations for hiring a dog walker, make sure this professional can handle caring for multiple dogs at once.

Pawfect Mutt Match or Canine Conflict?

Change can be good, but it can also be challenging. 

If your resident dog is used to flying solo, he or she may look at you in disbelief when meeting their new sibling. On the flipside, he or she might be head-over-paws in love! Take into account there will be an adjustment period – for everyone, dogs and humans – and that the timeframe will be different for each one. 

Training and management can help you all get through the process. If your current dog has behavioral any challenges that need to be addressed, we recommend you do so before bringing another animal into the family circle. (Keep in mind that things can change again once the family dynamic changes).

Final Thoughts

Responsible pet ownership means that you also have to think about how your pets might react to having a new pet in the house. Take some time to weigh these pros and cons before signing the adoption papers, while making sure that everyone — man and animal — is on board for the new pet.


This post was written exclusively for inquisitivecanine.com
Submitted by PetPaw&Tail18

PetPaw&Tail18 runs her own shelter in Ohio with her life partner. She is the proud owner of two beautiful Labradors, Molly and Kiki—Molly being the first rescue of the shelter. She dedicates her life to saving and finding mutts a loving home and cannot imagine not having a dog of her own.

2018 is the Year of the Dog

It's the Year of the Dog

3 Ways to Celebrate the Year of the Dog and Your Inquisitive Canine

2018 is the Year of the Dog according to the Chinese zodiac. It’s the perfect time to celebrate and appreciate your loyal companion. There are several ways to show your furry friend you care, and The Inquisitive Canine can help you think of a few.

2018 is the year of the dogWhat does the Year of the Dog mean?

There are 11 animals and one mythological creature that make up the Chinese zodiac. The dog is the eleventh animal, which means it’s been 12 years since the last Year of the Dog. Children born between February 16th, 2018 and February 4th, 2019 will have the dog as their Chinese zodiac sign.

What does it mean to have the dog as your Chinese zodiac sign?

People born under the sign of the dog are said to be loyal, friendly and kind – just like our four-legged friends. They are less likely to seek money and power and more likely to try and make the world a better place.

Famous people with the dog as their zodiac sign include Madonna, Michael Jackson, Steven Spielberg, Winston Churchill and Mother Teresa.

Let Us Help You Celebrate the Year of the Dog

Celebrate your dog all year long by nurturing your relationship. Here are just three ways The Inquisitive Canine can support and grow your owner-pet bond in the New Year.

New Classes

The Inquisitive Canine is offering several new classes in the first half of 2018. We’re offering Dog Behavior Workshops in February and April, and a course on preparing for pet adoption on April 30th. Learn more about our workshops and sign up to reserve your spot.

TransPaw Gear Harness

Adventuring with your canine has never been easier. Our TransPaw Gear pet harness enhances the human-canine bond. It offers multiple locations for leash attachment, providing you with choices to match any activity. Canine comfort lead the design, so your canine can move freely with special comfortable support behind the upper area of the front legs and snug shoulders fit. Learn more about the TransPaw Gear harness and shop the dog harness on our product website.

Training Tips & Tricks

Visit the Doggie Blog to learn free tips and tricks from Joan Hunter Mayer and our knowledgeable guest bloggers. Whether it’s tips for finding the right dog trainer for you and your pet or how to teach canine nose-work, the Doggie Blog is the place to gain valuable insights.

This year is the Year of the Dog, so show your courageous canine they matter by dedicating your time and establishing a deep bond.

K9 Nose Work:  One Sport Your Dog May Want to Sniff Out!

k9 nose work trainingWhat is K9 Nose Work?

In K9 Nose Work, dogs learn how to search for a specific odor or odors and find the source. It is a growing sport that is based on your dog’s natural instinct to hunt and sniff out prey. This fun activity will benefit your dog by building its confidence and exercise its mind and body.  You will enjoy watching your dog work and it will deepen the bond between you, even if you do not do it competitively.

K9 Nose Work was founded and developed by Ron Gaunt, Amy Herot, and Jill Marie O’Brien, all certified experts and highly accomplished in training K9 detection and tracking dogs for law enforcement.  Using their extensive experience in professional canine detection, these three K9 experts developed K9 Nose Work to give people and their pet dogs a fun and easy way to learn and apply scent detection skills.

How Do You Get Started in Nose Work?

K9 Nose Work is fun for any dog and the owner who wants to try it. Neither of you need any obedience or other training. This sport is a game that builds on your dog’s natural abilities. It is so easy to learn because your dog will love playing games that use its scenting instincts to find its favorite treat or toy.

Get started in this fun activity by locating a K9 Nose Work class or workshop taught by a certified Nose Work instructor.  Find the right trainer for you, your dog, and your goals. In Nose Work classes specifically, you should start by taking the Intro class to learn the foundational skills. The subsequent Nose Work class will introduce odor targeting.

When you begin Nose Work training, your dog will start the game by simply finding a treat or toy on its own, with no owner interruption. The dog will continue training that way for three months to one year, depending on the dog’s own pace of learning. During that period, the dog will develop confidence in its ability to achieve success in hunting and scenting. It also builds the dog’s mental and physical fitness, which is vital for your dog’s good health.  All the while your dog is learning new hunting skills in different environments, unimpeded by the owner.

As the dog progresses in its abilities, the search games become progressively more difficult.  They will include odor targeting, introducing multiple containers in the search and the concepts of exterior, interior, and vehicle searches, all of which are part of Nose Work competition events.

Nose Work Competition

If you are interested in Nose Work as a competitive sport, you should take regular classes to make sure you both have the skills needed to be competitive at that level. Once you and your dog become sufficiently advanced, you can participate in mock competitions to test both of your skills. Some owners use an experienced handler to handle their dogs in competition. You can get a lot of detailed information about the competitions time and location from the National Association of Canine Scent Work (NACSW™), the official sanctioning and organizing body for the sport of K9 Nose Work.  You should go observe them to see what is involved. These competitions are quite demanding. Observing a few of them will help you understand the etiquette and prepare for the challenges you and your dog will face.

Before you are eligible to compete in a NACSW™ competition, your dog must be able to identify the location of the target odor and the handler able to correctly call an ‘alert’ within a three-minute time period. This is called an Odor Recognition Test (ORT). To enter an ORT you must be a member of the NACSW™, and your dog must be registered with the NACSW™.  At an ORT at the first level of competition, you and your dog will have to search 12 identical boxes with one of the boxes containing birch odor.  You must be able to correctly identify when your dog has found the odor box.

After passing an ORT, you and your dog are eligible to compete at the Nose Work 1 (NW1) level. Please note that an NW1 trial is much more complex than an ORT.  At an NW1 trial, your dog must cope with distractions, environmental stressors, larger search areas, and the four elements of competition (container, interior, exterior, and vehicle). Also, your dog should be prepared to go from crate to work several times during the course of the competition.

The next level up is NW2. At that level, you and your dog should expect to find multiple hides in one environment, work through more challenging, less accessible “hides”, overcome food and toy distractions and alert only to odor, and manage a longer, larger search.

The highest level is NW3. This is a professional level of nose work. You and your dog will have to demonstrate that the dog can find an unknown number of hides in a search environment, you or the handler will recognize the search behavior in a dog when no odor is present (if there is a blank room), the dog and handler team can work through even more challenging, less accessible hides with varying heights and containment, the dog can overcome food and toy distractions in any environment and alert only to odor, the dog can manage much longer, larger searches, with the interior searches potentially being 12-15 minutes.

Whether you decide to compete with your dog or not, Nose Work training will enhance the relationship you have with your dog and your dog will become a more confident and happy inquisitive canine.

Sure Fire Strategies to Teach Your Dog to Greet People Nicely

Teach Your Canine – Strategies for Better Dog Greeting

The holidays are coming, and one of the best parts of this time of year is having friends and family over to celebrate together.

For inquisitive canine parents with dogs that don’t know how to politely greet people, though, having people over often only adds to the stresses of the season.

As a certified trainer, dog lover, and member of the therapy dog organization Love on a Leash, I find a composed dog greeting, be it at home or along the way, of the utmost importance – everyone appreciates a polite pooch.

So let’s get started with strategies for better dog greeting!

Nice Dog Greeting

The goal for Part 1 of this behavior training is to teach your dog better dog greating. They need to learn that sitting or standing to greet you and other family members is much more rewarding than jumping up.

Jump Control, Part 1Strategies for better dog greeting

The goal for Part 1 is to teach your dog Sitting = Attention / Jumping up =Being Ignored

  • First, reward your dog with petting, praise, treats or the toss of a toy whenever s/he greets you with “four on the floor” (all four paws on the floor) or sitting up nicely.
  • Approach your dog, or call him or her toward you, and ask for a sit. Once s/he sits, reward her or him with positive attention.
  • If and when your dog jumps up on you, turn away and ignore.
  • As soon as your dog stops jumping, and his or her paws are back on the ground, turn around to face him or her and reward.
  • When s/he doesn’t jump, pet and praise your dog. If you have treats, give one. If s/he gets too excited and jumps up again, turn your back again and start over.
  • If you turn your back but your dog keeps jumping on your back, try walking away. It’s important that you completely ignore the dog — don’t talk or chide. Pretend like s/he is not there.

Jump Control, Part 2

inquisitivecanine-waltersittingThe goal for Part 2 is to teach polite dog greeting for other people, including friends and strangers.

Whenever possible, teach family and friends the Part 1 exercise and have them practice with your dog. When encountering people you don’t know who are willing to do the Part 1 exercise, the following will help teach your dog to generalize polite manners:

  • Warm up your dog by having her or him sit for you when s/he wants to say “hi” and be petted. Have family members and friends do the same. Then take it on the road.
  • When a stranger approaches your dog (or when you approach a stranger with your dog, after having ascertained that person wishes to be approached), ask your dog to sit. Your dog must stay in the sit position as the stranger approaches to pet her or him.
  • Give a treat to your dog for sitting as the person approaches. If your dog gets up, stop the treats and ask the person to stop or take a step backwards. Your dog will soon learn that if s/he stays seated (or next to you with four on the floor), then s/he receives attention from you and from the person saying hello. Conversely, if s/he gets up, s/he gets nothing. Your inquisitive canine will soon figure out which is the better choice.
  • Keep in mind that walking away from the person, or not allowing the person or other dog to say hello is not intended as a punishment, so refrain from jerking the collar or using an angry voice. The intention is simply to keep your dog from jumping up (before s/he can scare someone or dirty that person’s clothes), and to communicate that s/he lost the opportunity to greet the person.
  • Throughout these exercises, you can turn to explain to the stranger that you’re teaching your dog not to jump. If the person seems interested in the training process or your dog, you can ask that person if he or she wouldn’t mind helping. If so, repeat the above procedure until your dog doesn’t try to jump. At that point, allow the person to pet your dog and say hello.

Is your dog already skilled at this behavior? Make it more challenging by adding in distractions or asking for a “Down” instead of “Sit.”

Now is the perfect time to practice jump control training so that by the time the holidays are here, your rover will be perfectly polite when people come over!

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Wanna join the conversation? Just head to the comment section below. Care to share pics and videos of your inquisitive canine? We invite you to post on our Inquisitive Canine Facebook page.

Watch Me, Walk With Me: Loose Leash Dog Walking 101

Loose Leash Dog WalkingDiscover Loose Leash Dog Walking Tips

Everyone knows you walk with your feet (or paws, depending on your species), but did you know that the secret to successful loose leash dog walking begins with a mutual connection that comes from the head and the heart?

With any DIY dog training, you have to start with an understanding of inquisitive canine behavior. Put your pup on a leash, and s/he’s not going to stop doing what s/he’s wired to do: sniff, explore and investigate. The pull to examine everything that catches your dog’s eye is powerful… literally.

This is why so often we see dogs walking their owners, and not the other way around.

As a certified dog trainer, I appreciate when inquisitive canines trust their humans enough to be able to look longingly into their eyes. I also love to see dogs and pet parents trotting along, side-by-side, enjoying a leisurely walk. These two activities are not mutually exclusive; in fact, building trust through a loving gaze is the first step to training your dog to walk on a leash.

Here are step-by-step instructions to get your pup prepped to be the perfect walking companion:

“Watch Me” ~ Establish Trust
AcademyDog-DalmatianThe first step is to get your dog to learn how to meet and hold your gaze. Eye contact is not “normal” doggy behavior so if your pup takes a while to warm up to this, don’t worry. The following instructions that start with the tiniest glances and increase from there is a process called “shaping.”

  • Have your treats and clicker ready. (To brush up on the magic of clickers and how to establish a Click-Treat [C/T] pattern, click here).
  • Your dog may be sitting, standing or lying down, with as few distractions around as possible.
  • Begin to C/T the moment your dog makes any eye contact with you at all.
  • If your dog doesn’t catch on right away, make kissy noises to prompt him or her or show a treat and then hold it up next to your eyes. As soon as your dog glances up, go ahead and C/T.
  • Shape their behavior by C/T — go from the baby steps of glancing near your face to looking into your eyes.
  • Gradually increase the time your dog looks at you before you C/T.
  • Remember: Once your dog makes eye contact with you, complete each step at least ten (10) times before making it more difficult, such as adding in distractions or asking for a longer time of eye contact.
  • It will be up to you if you want to use the cue word “Watch” or your dog’s name.
  • If your dog seems bored or distracted, lower the bar of what you want and raise the rate of C/T. You can also try using a different kind of treat.

Once you’ve built that trust and your dog is looking to you for more information, you’re ready to move from watching to walking!

“Let’s Go For a Walk!” ~ Loose Leash Dog Walking (LLW)

Taking your dog for a walk should be fun and enjoyable for everyone. Loose leash dog walking means your dog is on leash and calmly proceeding near you, within the length of the leash without pulling, tugging or lunging.

As we all know, this can be challenging for many dogs, especially where there are lots of new places to go, people to meet and other dogs to sniff. It can be challenging for us if we have a dog that enjoys pulling (either to get somewhere or to prevent from leaving a specific location).

With time, patience and consistency, dogs can learn how to walk nicely on leash, making it more pleasant for both of you.

Prep Work

  • Begin by holding the leash with one hand at your belly button – like an ice cream cone – with your arms relaxed. This allows you to use your center of gravity as an anchor to help from being pulled over and to help prevent from pulling back on the leash accidentally.
  • Next, prompt your dog to come to your side. Use a food lure, a happy voice, a verbal and/or visual cue. Say yes, then give a treat.
  • Keep in mind that the leash is used as a safety line, not for controlling your dog. Try not to pull or tug at your dog. Also, it’s best not to wrap the leash around your hand or wrist (prevents injury if your dog does pull).
  • Be sure you’re using appropriate and safe walking equipment, including a front-clip harness.

Practice Walking with Minimal Distractions

  • You may want to do the first few runs indoors, where there are not as many distractions as outside.
  • Give a verbal walking cue, take two or three steps (using a food lure if necessary), stop, have your dog stop (or sit, which is optional), say yes and treat.
  • Continue to practice this step until your dog is offering on his or her own. Then begin to take additional steps, increasing the distance.
  • Add in the “Watch Me” phrase when you stop and also say it intermittently when walking. This teaches your dog to check in with you on a walk and helps remind him or her that you’re out together. This enhances the bond you share.
  • Once your dog understands the concept of loose leash dog walking, increase the pace by walking briskly indoors with him or her on leash If s/he goes to the end of the leash, change direction and keep walking at a quick pace.
  • When s/he comes near you on the side you want her or him to walk, use a cheerful voice to praise. Whenever s/he gets into heel position or puts slack in the leash, say yes and treat. Also, reward for any eye contact.
  • If after a couple minutes you don’t find your dog spending more time at your side or with a slack leash, consider moving to a less distracting area.
  • You may also reward more frequently, delivering the treat in the position you want. The point in doing this is to help motivate your dog to stay interested, as opposed to wandering to the end of the leash, looking for something else to do.

Once you’re comfortable with loose leash dog walking and eye contact, make it more challenging by adding in one distraction at a time.

Before you know it, you’ll be watching your dog walking outside on a loose leash – and best of all, you trained him or her yourself!

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Wanna join the conversation? Just head to the comment section below. Care to share pics and videos of your inquisitive canine? We invite you to post on our Facebook page.