The first week of class we meet without dogs. This first class is an hour and a half. All the other classes are one hour.
The purpose of the first class without dogs is to take the time to discuss and answer questions about the class curriculum and policies, and to take the time needed to practise some core skills at the human end of the leash.
Here are the readings for Week 1:
1. Skills for the human end of the leash. Click the links below:
3. Too Cool for School! Show your teen tyrant you really are cool! Read below.
TOO COOL FOR SCHOOL!
For teens of any species, parents can be so uncool. Adolescence can be a trying time for any species. That sweet little puppy is growing up and becoming annoying, not to say obnoxious, LOL. He starts to pull on leash. She jumps up on people. Maybe she always did, but now she’s 80 pounds and it isn’t so adorable anymore. Perhaps he’s lunging towards things he wants such as other dogs. And, worst of all, she goes from worshipping you to snubbing you. Ouch!
Part of the reason this happens is because our pups start to discover the world and our star doesn't shine as bright anymore. So what can we do? We can show our little tyrants that, actually, we ARE cool and fun to be with! We can share their excitement in the world they are discovering and become their teacher, teaching them about things they don't know yet. We can become cool to be with!
Here’s your first homework assignment. Go on an outing with your teen. Avoid any known triggers that cause fearful or reactive responses on this outing. Go somewhere you will enjoy and try these ideas:
Give your teen freedom: As much as possible, allow your teen tyrant freedom. If you trust him off leash, let him fly. If that's not possible for you yet, and you can't get access to a fenced area, use a long line and harness. Attach the long line to the back clip of the harness and utilize the leash gently to make your teen feel as much as possible that he is off leash.
Pay for check-ins: One thing you want to do routinely is reinforce your dog’s acknowledgement of you. Check-ins are something we will be working on in class A LOT! Start that process now. It is really important you pay for check-ins on outings because that is a behaviour your should cherish. Do you want a dog who pays attention to you when the exciting world is beckoning to him? If so, pay for check-ins! Use VERY good food. Kibble or regular treats won't do it here. Think roast chicken, smoked salmon, sausage. The stinkier and the more novel the food, the better. Make it special. And each time your dog - without your asking for it - looks at you or comes back to you on this outing, give him a tiny piece of the wonderful food. Remember, checking in should be his idea, not yours.
Find stuff he didn’t know was there: This step can take some planning. Maybe you wander over to a tree or a rock pile, and secretly scatter food - good food, but not check-in good. Save that great stuff for check-ins only! Then get your dog’s attention and point this amazing treasure out to him. He will start to be amazed at the things you find! If you have a random goodie (perhaps a rind of cheese, or a salmon skin, or any other sort of special treat) that you can hide and point out to him, you will be SO cool!
Know stuff he doesn’t know and teach him: Show your teenager things about the world that he may not know about yet. For instance, he may not know that treats float in a stream and that he can get them! She may not know that birds are up in trees sometimes, and you can point that out to her. Admire the birds together! He also may not know how fun it is to snuffle around in a pile of dead leaves (bury a toy in there, or just rustle around and show him what you are doing). You can show him that logs are great for hopping onto, that berries are great for eating straight off the bush, and that rocks are great for climbing.
HOMEWORK: If you are a fun person to go on a walk with, your dog will spend more time with you on those walks. So go on a cool outing with your teen tyrant! Show him he can have a great time hanging out with you! Post photos and comments on our Facebook page.