We are so happy to welcome you and your canine teenager to Teen Tyrants!
We keep our classes small so that we can give you lots of one-on-one attention. We focus on the relationship between you and your dog and the skills you both need for a happy and successful life together.
We have created the online material to complement the group classes. We know that it is difficult to remember everything we do in class. The online material is available for you to review each week. And if you have questions about the material between classes, you are invited to ask them on the Best Friends Dog Training Facebook page.
We have created material for you to read prior to the first class. First, if you have not already, I invite you to read about The Four Pillars that define our approach to training. This gives you a good understanding of the kind of training that we do and what we consider important.
Secondly, take a look at the Overview of the Teen Tyrants Curriculum, below. This tells you what we will be covering in the course. Note that the first week of class is without dogs so that we can cover some important concepts and skills that we will use throughout the course.
Finally, read The Teenager Survival Guide, below. This will give you some tips about how to handle this important stage in your dog's life. We hope you enjoy reading and watching the material on this and the other pages! Don't forget to use our Facebook page to ask questions or comment on any of the material. See you in class!
OVERVIEW OF teen TYRANTS CURRICULUM
Our curriculum focuses on foundation skills that help you and your dog communicate effectively and live together happily. You will gain access to all the material upon registration and payment. If you want to read ahead, you are welcome to do so but it is not required. The material - with the exception of the pre-course readings, is meant for review and practise after each class. We will work on the material in class and then you have the opportunitiy to review and practise at home using the online content. You will retain access to the online content after the course so don't worry if you don't get through everything during the course. Keep in mind that the course is jam-packed with a lot of information and skills. Some things will be of more interest and use to you and others less. It is my intention to introduce you to a range of skills and concepts and you are able to choose which ones are most important for you and your dog.
The first week of class is without dogs and is an hour and a half. The purpose is to practise some core skills which is easier to do without our best friends! In the first class we will: 1. Introduce ourselves and briefly discuss our goals for the course. 2. Review the class curriculum and policies, including the COVID-19 safety protocols. 3. Discuss and practise leash handling. 4. Discuss and practise marker training (mechanics of using a marker such as a clicker or a verbal marker). 5. Discuss how to prepare for Week 2 when you first bring your dog to class.
Readings for Week 1: 1. Skills for the human end of the leash. Click the links below:
Calling All Dogs! Building a Rock Solid Recall
3. Too Cool for School! Enhancing your relationship with the Teen Tyrant in your life!
1. Find it: Your dog learns to search for food that you toss at a distance. Useful for rewarding your dog and sometimes for distracting him. Automatically adds distance to other behaviours if you use "Find it" with other cues. 2. Treat magnet: Your dog learns to follow a treat that you hold right at his nose. Useful for moving your dog in space, from point A to point B, and especially useful if you want to distract your dog while passing something that might cause him to bark or react in an undesirable way. This is management, not training, and sometimes management is very useful. 3. Voluntary check-ins: Your dog learns that looking at you is always rewarding. This is a voluntary, offered behaviour, not one that we cue because we want the dog to choose the behaviour. Checking-in with you is a foundation for many other skills such as polite greetings and loose leash walking. 4. Yielding to leash pressure: Your dog learnsnot to pull against, but to yield, to pressure on the leash (and collar). A valuable behaviour that helps enormously with loose leash walking and polite greetings. 5. Food Manners: Your dog learns to be polite around food, instead of grabbing or snatching it. Food manners are the foundation for "leave it". 6. The Name Game: Your dog learns to pay attention when she hears her name and to maintain attention to you until you release her. 7. Targeting: Your dog touches a part of his body to an object. We will work on three targeting skills: (a) Touch: Learning to touch her nose to your hand (palm, fist or fingers), your leg, or an object. (b) Chin rest: Learning to rest her chin on your hand (or your leg, or an object such as a pillow or chair). Used for cooperative care as a "more please" signal. (c)Settle or Station: Your dog learns to go to a mat or platform and to stay there until released. Useful in many contexts when you need your dog to stay in one place and be comfortable there. 8. Sit Stay: Learning to sit and stay until released. Helps your dog to understand that she should maintain whatever position you ask her to take until you release her, despite what else is going on in the environment. 9. Down Stay: Learning to lie down and stay until released. 10. Wait: Your dog learns to not cross a barrier or move forward when cued to wait. 11. Coming when called: Learning to come when called even in the face of distractions. 12. Leash handling and loose leash walking: Your dog learns to walk on a loose leash and you learn how to handle the leash in ways that encourage loose leash walking. 13.Greeting people politely: Learning to greet calmly with four feet on the floor and by invitation. 14.Accepting other dogs as part of the environment: Your dog learns to focus on you and to accept the other dogs in the class as part of the environment and not available to greet unless they are invited to do so. 15. Relaxation: Learning how to relax and be calm, together with you. 16.Cue transfer: You learn how to transfer a cue, meaning, to add a new cue to an established behaviour. With cue transfers we can add in environmental and other types of cues in addition to hand signals and verbal cues.
TEENAGER SURVIVAL GUIDE!
Adolescence can be a trying time! Your dog is experiencing many changes, not unlike human teens. These changes – biological, physical, and psychological – will affect your dog’s behaviour and some of this behaviour can be challenging. The adolescent’s brain is developing and growing and he is also experiencing hormonal changes that will have an impact, even for altered dogs.
The canine developmental stages are:
Neonatal (birth to 13 days)
Transitional (13 days to 3 weeks)
Socialization: (3 weeks to 12-16 weeks)
Juvenile (12-16 weeks until sexual maturity)
Adult (sexual maturity onward).
The adolescent period typically begins around four to six months of age, and will be over when a dog reaches physical and sexual maturity around two to three years old. The most pronounced behavioural changes usually take place between six and 12 months of age.
Tips on handling the adolescence stage:
Continue socialization: Socialization shouldn’t stop when your dog is a teen. It’s important to continue carefully exposing your dog to different places, people, other dogs, and different situations while associating these events with something positive.
Understand this is a time of BIG feelings: Whether positive or negative, emotions are often intense and exaggerated in the teenage dog. It is a time of increased emotional arousal and reactivity. Your adolescent may experience new feelings about things or situations she was previously comfortable with. Maybe she gives the fire hydrant a wide berth during your walk or she might decide that new people (or dogs or trees or shadows) need to be barked at.
These reactions are normal. These behaviours will come and go several times during adolescence and may last anywhere from a couple of days to a few weeks. Handle these moments with calm and patience. Your teen tyrant isn’t always able to control his emotions. Don’t push or force him to “confront his fear” or scold him for what might look like rude behaviour. Give him time to process whatever spooks him. Give him distance from scary things. Let him turn away and avoid the scary monster if he wants and even let him bark at it if he needs to. Hold the leash loosely and reassure him by talking to him in a gentle, calm voice.
Use management to prevent unwanted behaviours: Adolescent dogs often don’t have the ability to control their impulses and have a tendency towards immediate gratification! While they may look like adults, they are not. They do not yet have the mental capacity or the emotional development of an adult dog. It might seem like they have forgotten all the training you did as a puppy! They haven’t – the information is still floating around in their developing brain – but they are having trouble accessing it.
Continue teaching your teen what you want him to do and use management to help him not practice unwanted behaviours. For example, keep counters clear so he can’t counter surf. Keep him on a long line until you have a great recall. Close the curtains so he doesn’t bark at passersby.
Find the joy! Adolescence may be full of challenges for you and your pup, but it is also a very special time in your dog’s life! He is learning more about the world and his place in it with you as his guide. He is curious, playful, mischievous, full of energy, and a whole lot of fun! Enjoy this special time!
Think about opportunities to socialize your dog. Identify a socialization experience you think your dog could benefit from. Bring your ideas to class.
Does your teen engage in an undesirable behaviour you would like to change? Can you think of a way you could use management to prevent the behaviour in the first place? Bring your ideas to class.