Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Upcoming Dog Training Classes - Smart Dogs Canine Training


Here is a snap shot of our upcoming classes for Spring/Summer 2016:

Basic Classes WAIT LIST STARTED for July 2016
Friday's 7-8pm & Saturdays 10-11am7 sessions, 1 hour each session, get your dog working for you and focusing on you under distraction. 18 weeks and up. A MUST HAVE class!
Bootcamp Class is open for REGISTRATION!Tuesday May 10, 7-8pm - 1 SPOT LEFT 
(Bootcamp will run again over the Summer/Fall months - stay tuned for details)
Must have completed Smart Dogs Basics Class.

6 weeks of training in the real world!! All over town - get your dog paying attention to you where it counts!

MAY/JUNE Puppy Class WAIT LIST started!
Sunday's 4-5pm - 3 SPOTS LEFT
4 sessions, 1 hour each session, get your puppy working for you and focusing on you in a fun, positive way, under distraction. Must have second set of shots.. A FANTASTIC INTRO class for young puppies!
FOCUS/PLAY Class starting soon!
Saturdays 11:15am-12:15pm
5 sessions, 1 hour each session - get your dogs mind and body active with this interactive, play based class. You will learn how to gain focus, appropriate games, how to apply focus to obedience and minor agility equipment.
Please see GROUP TRAINING page for details on all of our upcoming classes, or contact us for more information:

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Why Train with Us? Milton Ontario Dog Training

Why train your dog with us?

  • Smaller Class sizes - 7-8 max, typical is 6 dog/handler teams
  • Unlimited email support
  • Video homework along side written instruction
  • On-going continuing education for trainers/staff
  • We prepare you for the real world - our 2nd (and sometimes 1st) group level is outdoors, around town, where you would take your dog on a regular basis - makes sense to owner and dog
  • We don't overwhelm you with too many exercises in a single session
  • We focus on CALM, not high enery obedience - Family obedinece not sport dog obedeince.
  • Group and private training- from Puppy to Advanced
  • Fun classes such as Agility and Focus/Play
  • Not married to a single method or technique - we do what works for your dog
  • We give your dog the whole picture, not just part of it - a high percentage of positive reinforcement (food, play, toys, praise, touch) along with thoughtful use of pressure and corrections
  • We understand it's not all about the dog - you have a job, family, a life, and we make it easy (and fun) to fit training into your busy lifestyle.

For more information on our training, visit out website at:

or email us with any questions:

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Dog Training Takes Time and Dedication ... Milton Ontario Dog Trainer.

Training your dog  takes time, patience, love, consistency and money. Training takes work, dedication, patience and perseverance. Training takes patience, practice and consistency. Training takes commitment.

When training dogs, you must keep in mind that, unfortunately, they do not speak English, so we have to help them to understand our language. The more animated, out of control, impatient and frustrated we get, the harder it is for the dog to understand. They don't know what our babbling means. They have no idea why you are mad when they don't sit. They haven't a clue why it's not better to chase the birds or eat the rabbit poop than listen to you. They just don't know ... until we teach them.

And when we set out to teach, you must remember that there is no magic formula, there is no special powder, there is no secret "way". There is you and the dog before you. That's it. Sometimes that dog before you is a spoiled brat, other times he's a big ol' softy that wants nothing more than to please, other times she's a high drive, active, nut case that needs a job to do, and most of the time it's just a dog that is confused by our lack of communication skills, who is out of control because we clearly haven't taken the time and patience to show them what they should be doing.

From puppies to elderly dogs, we always need to take the time to teach, then we need to repeat and repeat and practice and repeat some more. We need to remain consistent with our rules and requirements. We need to train in different situations, with different distractions, on different days, in different weather. Sounds like work? It is. Nothing is easy, but you get out of it what you put in. In this case, when you put in the work, you actually get to see your efforts take shape.

Your goals with training don't have to be lofty either. Sometimes lofty goals can create stress, and stress does nothing to help the relationship with your dog. Your goals do not need to be the same as your neighbours goals, your sisters goals or your friends goals. If you are happy that you dog can walk nicely on leash, come when called and not knock Grandma over when she comes to visit, then great, you've achieved your goal. If you want to push for more, fantastic! But you will have to put in the work, and trust me, no matter how much work, it's always a wonderful moment when you see the hard work and teaching come together.

It really doesn't matter what style of training that you implement and follow; if you are not consistent and don't practice, your dog will not understand. If you only practice once a week in a group class, with no other effort daily, your dog will not get it. If you only practice in your kitchen, your dog will not have a clue that he still has to listen on the front lawn. If training isn't a part of your dogs daily life, you are keeping him from expanding his mind. If you think training should only take couple weeks or you think a dog can be programmed like a computer, get a stuffed animal because you are going to be sorely disappointed.

Enjoy your dogs as best you can, and give them the opportunity to enjoy life by the freedom that comes with good, clear, consistent training.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Tug - Should I or Shouldn't I? Dog Training Milton Ontario

Lots and lots of mis-information out there on the internet and in books in regards to the game of TUG with your dog. You will hear a lot of "No, don't do it! It creates ..." and a list of bad behaviours follow this mantra. Many are afraid of letting their dog play because upon seeing all of the "red flags" in print, they believe it will contribute to inappropriate behaviour, over excitement, aggression etc.

The key with TUG is to play the game properly, incorporate rules, exercise, training and fun. TUG is an absolutely wonderful to expend energy - both mind and body. It's a fantastic rainy day game because you can play it anywhere, and is a great way to actually increase self control and focus.

I'm going to briefly go over how you can utilize tug in your dogs training, exercise and in teaching self control. However, not all dogs are motivated by tug toys, or even toys in general. It is not necessary to force the game on to a dog that doesn't enjoy it, however, you can build drive for the toy in a dog who is unsure or under confident. I've had much success in building drive for the game by letting the insecure dog win, making it non-threatening (getting down on the dogs level, no hard pulls), very active and interactive (making the toy "come to life") and building upon success with lots of praise and some fetch and teasing thrown in. There is absolutely nothing wrong with letting your dog win at times, especially when trying to build confidence. *Make sure to tug low, and don't bounce your dog all around when you do it. Light side to side movement on their level to start. You can be more aggressive with movement when working with established dogs, but be safe and don't cause injury by crazy movements or flailing your arms around like a maniac.

We do teach tug with some rules once we established a bit of drive for the game:
And please note, when you start to teach this game, you need to start in a low distraction environment so that the dog can focus. Don't think that you can teach your dog how to tug correctly in the middle of the park with 100 children and dogs running around. Be fair.

1. We start the game and we end the game, period. I firmly believe that giving into a pushy dog who is constantly harassing you to play, leads to other issues that increase that demanding behaviour in other aspects of life. So if you have a dog who is always pushing the toy at you, putting it in your lap, barking at you to play, put the toy away, and when you are ready, then you can engage. However, if you are mid-play and the dog is coming back at you hard for more, of course you can still engage, but once you say game over, it's done.

2. Build a release mark - the mark is to let the dog know they've done the right thing and a reward is coming. I prefer to use OK, however you can choose any short word that works for you (done, free, break, yes). Use the release mark just before re-engaging. OK and go back to tugging.
Build a duration mark - to let the dog know to keep doing what they are doing. GOOD for example tell my dogs keep it up. This is once we start to work on longer periods of self control and/or the addtion of obedience to the game.

3. Once we have drive, we need to teach the dog a clear OUT of GIVE. This is releasing the toy when asked. There is three different ways we teach the OUT. 
  • My favorite way, that works for most dogs, is making the toy "go dead". The key with this is to hold the toy against your leg with both hands (collecting the "loose ends" so to speak"), so the dog can not get the bounce/pull out of the toy, and at this point its boring - most dogs let go if it's boring. The moment, and in the beginning it is exactly the moment, that they let go, mark with your release work (OK) and immediately re-engage. The reward for the release is the game.
  • For owners who are having issues with making the toy dead, or for the dogs who just won't give up, we can offer a food trade. This isn't my favorite way to teach a highly food motivated dog as sometimes they prefer the food over the toy, and that reduces the drive for the game, however it can be useful in the beginning when teaching to get the dog to understand the word, and then quickly fade the food out so that the game, once again, becomes the reward.
  • The last method, and not one that I use often, is the collar pressure method. I reserve this for dogs who have VERY firm grips and won't let go for anything - don't care about he food, don't care that the toy is dead, and all contact with the toy is rewarding. Straight upward pressure on the collar (usually a flat or martingale) will entice the dog to spit the toy out - the reward is immediate re-engagement.
Keep in mind, there are no perfect dogs, so they will all make the mistake of not giving it up right away at times, just be clear and consistent in the fact that there is no more game if you don't give it up. Don't try to pull the toy out of your dogs mouth, this just makes it more fun to hand on.
Once the OUT or GIVE has been taught, we can start to ask for some self control from the dog but not immediately re-engaging once the dog OUT's. So we increase the wait time between the OUT and the game, creating a dog who, even though is aroused, must control himself in order to play again.You can utilize the duration mark (GOOD) when building that time between the OUT and the game.

4. Once we've established an out, don't over use it. The more you use it, the less fun game becomes for those new to tug.

5. The dog should NEVER be allowed to self reward with the tug if you want to build drive for the game. Meaning, the dog isn't allowed to run away and chew on the tug or play with it on her own. We want the game to be rewarding with YOU not without you. So if in doubt, get a separate toy for tugging rather than one that the dog has with them or free access to all of the time. This helps to build desire to be with, focus on and work with you.

6. When the dog is excited about the game, the drive is evident, the dog is aware of your above rules, is able to control herself after the OUT, and is happy playing for periods of time, you can start to add the TUG game as a reward for obedience behaviours. And this is where we can start to work the self control aspect even more. After an OUT, I do not always return immediately to the game. I can ask for any number of behaviours before re-engaging. I keep it to a singular behaviour when the dog is is first learning that response to a command means re-engagement. I typically start with SIT or LOOK, and I don't make the dog hold it for extended periods to start. SIT or LOOK for a couple seconds is good enough in the beginning and you can increase time as the dog learns. The reason that we start very short is to build upon success. If you wait too long, and you have a very driven dog, your dog will fail, break the SIT or break eye contact and try to go for the tug. Start small, and work your way up as your dog is learning. Make sure to use your duration mark (GOOD) when the dog is holding a position. Make sure that the dog is never rewarded before we release (your reward mark - OK). If the dog is catching on, and is showing control for longer periods, if they break their position, we can remind with a NO or ARGH, and
re-set them. If the dog gets really pushy at any time, and you feel frustrated or feel that the dog isn't following the rules, END THE GAME and try again later or the next day.

So we now have a dog who understands that being demanding will not get him the game, we have established drive for the game and marker words, a clear OUT but and OUT that you are not overusing, some self control and reward for obedience skills. We can now take this game and use it as reward for bigger skills, for focus in more distracting environments, and of course, for dog sports.

I can tire a dog out more with a 10-20 minute game of tug (time depending on the dog) with obedience and self control thrown in, than with a 20-30 minute walk. As I mentioned, it's a great rainy day exercise, and if you are working on building some foundation in dog sports, it is a critical skill to have.

So have fun with your dogs, build upon success, build their focus and enhance your relationship with this easy, beneficial game.