Spring Forth Dog Academy is now Crossbones Dog Academy!

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Crossbones Dog Academy Logo | Providence, RI

New year, new name. (Same shade of orange.) New for 2019: Spring Forth Dog Academy is now Crossbones Dog Academy!

So much has changed since Dan and I chose our business name “Spring Forth” in 2010. It was a play on words (think Springer Spaniel) accompanied by my pencil drawing of Tessie jumping. The logo was very personal.

Crossbones is a business name and logo combination I originally came up with in 2013. For a period of time, I used it as a brand while teaching agility classes in Rhode Island. (In fact, some of those students are still taking classes with me today!) I always loved the concept of Crossbones, but was afraid to take the leap and rebrand.

The biggest change in our business, one we never saw coming, is that it grew from two people to an entire team of trainers and support staff. As a result, we decided to update our brand to Crossbones. We wanted to reflect the spirit of how our organization has grown over the past eight years.

Our Evolution

People pursue careers in the dog industry because they want to make a difference for dogs. For example, a lot of people start out training dogs as a hobby, and then open a small business to teach lessons a couple nights each week. But in order to do that, they have to also devote time to marketing, administrative duties, and all the legal mumbo-jumbo that goes along with being a small business owner.

As we gained experience as dog professionals, we had an “a-ha moment.” The way to make the biggest impact was to assemble a group of talented, committed people who also understood that by teaming up with us, they could accomplish more. Our trainers can spend more time working with dogs and owners because our administrative team and facility assistants take care of everything else. In a nutshell: more time with dogs, less time in an office. As a result, we each help far more dogs and owners than we could if we all operated as one-man bands.

This summer, our team collaborated to put our ethos into words. We created a mission statement and list of core values that inspire us to show up each day and do our best. And in the spirit of new year’s resolutions, we’re sharing it in the hopes that it inspires you, too. 

MISSION STATEMENT: We provide exceptional care and a positive education for dogs and their owners.

Our Values

We model & encourage responsible dog ownership.

We provide enrichment & socialization opportunities for all dogs.

We teach effective, positive dog training techniques to strengthen dog & owner relationships.

We make an impact in our community by educating & supporting dog owners & team members.

We make a difference in the lives of dogs & their owners through education, empathy, & creative problem solving.

We work as a team, and believe that by supporting one another we can bring out the best in each individual.

We are a fiscally responsible company that provides a living wage to our team members.

We treat everyone with fairness, kindness, and respect and promote open communication.

We provide a clean & safe environment for clients, team members, & dogs to enjoy.

STAR Puppy Challenge Giveaway!

00Events, Puppies

AKC STAR Puppy Testing in Providence, RI | Spring Forth Dog AcademyHave you heard about our STAR Puppy Challenge?

This year, we have challenged our training team to promote responsible dog ownership, puppy socialization, and early commitment to training through the AKC STAR Puppy program. This program is open to all puppies under one year of age. Our goal is for 25 of our students’ puppies to pass the test.

To do that, we’re challenging you to commit to our STAR Puppy Challenge and give your puppy the training and socialization she deserves.

To take the test, you must first attend six manners classes in our Flex Class program with your puppy. The test will assess your commitment to care for your puppy (veterinary care, identification, exercise plan), your puppy’s behavior in a social environment with other dogs and people, and your puppy’s age-appropriate progress toward good manners (behaviors like sit, loose leash walking, and coming when called).

So far, 22 puppies have passed the STAR Puppy test at Spring Forth Dog Academy in 2018!

We’re so close to hitting our goal, and hope to finish the year strong and exceed it! We want to help as many new owners get their puppies off to a great start as we possibly can.

Giveaway Time!

So, we’ve put together a little something extra…

STAR Puppy Challenge

This gift basket from our retail boutique contains $150 worth of products, including made-in-the USA toys by West Paw, treats from Happy Howie’s, Rocco & Roxie jerky sticks, a 20′ long line for training recalls, Primal pork liver munchies, and more!

On Tuesday, October 9th we will pick one lucky STAR Puppy Challenge participant to win this basket of goodies.

If your pup’s name is already on the STAR Puppy board in our lobby, you’re already entered! If you haven’t committed to the STAR Puppy Challenge yet, just get in touch with us. (It’s free!) We’ll add you to the board. As you take classes & learn new skills, we’ll fill in the star stickers on the chart for everyone to see. And once you’ve taken six manners classes with your pup, we can test you after class.

All puppies who pass the test get a medallion from us and have their picture taken to be featured on our Instagram and Facebook pages…

AKC STAR Puppy - Charm the Miniature American Shepherd

(Isn’t Charm just the cutest?)

Participation in the STAR Puppy Challenge is totally free! It’s included in your Flex Pass, so you don’t have to pay to sign up or take the test. (There is a nominal fee ($10) when you submit your paperwork to the American Kennel Club.)

So, to recap:

Benefits of Signing Up for the STAR Puppy Challenge:

  • your dog will learn some manners & be even more fun to be around
  • you’ll get some quality bonding time with your pup
  • chance to win a bunch of great stuff
  • get a cute picture of your dog wearing a hat
  • really cool medallion

Drawbacks of Signing Up for the STAR Puppy Challenge:

  • can’t think of any!

It seems pretty clear to us… if you’re ready to commit to starting your puppy off right, pick a Flex Class Pass and come join us!

Remembering Tessie

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Tessie the English Springer Spaniel | Spring Forth Dog Academy in Providence, RI

Tessie at 3 weeks old.

This started as an Instagram post but quickly exceeded 2200 characters, despite my best efforts to keep it brief! I hope you enjoy it. –Katherine

March 30th is always a special day at Spring Forth HQ. Today would have been Tessie’s 19th birthday. Tessie is the dog in our logo and the reason I became a professional dog trainer. Without Tessie, there would be no Spring Forth Dog Academy.

From Humble Beginnings

We did everything wrong with Tessie for the first two years we had her. We were first-time dog owners and didn’t know any better. It might be shorter to write a list of Tessie’s behaviors that weren’t a problem, but here were some of our struggles.

She would push open the front door to chase motorcycles. She snatched a hamburger straight out of my brother’s hands. She chewed a huge chunk out of the bathroom door on her first Thanksgiving. She pulled like a freight train on leash. She whined anxiously in the car, occasionally escalating to high-pitched screaming. She barked out the windows at cats, birds, squirrels….

Tessie the English Springer Spaniel | Spring Forth Dog Academy in Providence, RII begged my parents to take us to training classes because I had read about agility, and all of the agility classes required a basic obedience class certificate. When Tessie was 2, we signed her up for obedience classes at the facility closest to our home. The training style was punishment-based at best, militant at worst, but we made progress.

The Turning Point

At one of those classes, a woman was using a clicker to mark her dog’s behavior. The dog was still on a prong collar, like all of the dogs at class, but seemed to be enjoying himself a bit more than Tessie was. I got a clicker at a pet store, found a few training articles online, and got started.

Holy smokes! Tessie was smart. In a matter of weeks, I taught her dozens of tricks…. back up, roll over, fetch, speak, hand targeting, and more. I wondered what would happen if I started using the clicker at obedience class, so I did. The result? Faster recalls, more attentive heeling, closer front position.

Tessie the English Springer Spaniel | Spring Forth Dog Academy in Providence, RIWhen we started agility the following spring, Tessie flew through the class levels thanks to the clicker training I had done with her. I continued to take competition obedience classes with her but ran into a road block: the stay exercises.

Tessie would never move out of position during the stays, but would whine like a teakettle the entire time. My obedience instructors with decades of experience had no solution. “You could try a shock collar, but even that might not work.”

So, we stopped taking obedience classes to focus on agility, and entered our first trial. We were woefully unprepared and struggled with the environment, but I was hooked. For five years we competed at local trials, learned a ton, and earned some titles.

What I Learned

Tessie the English Springer Spaniel | Spring Forth Dog Academy in Providence, RII could write an entire book about all of the lessons I learned from Tessie, all of the things I did wrong, and how I fixed many of them. When you’re a teenager who doesn’t come from a “dog family,” you get a lot of judgment (which sucks) and unsolicited advice (which almost always sucks). I think the most important things I learned were:

1. Only your opinion of your dog matters.

My early obedience instructor told my mother that we’d missed the boat and since we waited so long to train Tessie, she’d never do well in dog sports, and that we should just get a puppy and start over.

This is utter hogwash. It was a convenient excuse to cover the instructor’s lack of knowledge of how to address Tessie’s whining during stays. If your trainer doesn’t think your dog is awesome and isn’t coming up with constructive solutions for your dog’s challenges, get a new trainer!

2. It’s intensely satisfying to stick it to people who say “you can’t,” and I recommend doing it as often as possible.

Tessie the English Springer Spaniel | Spring Forth Dog Academy in Providence, RI“She’s just a pet dog, she’ll never win anything.”
“You can’t train an obedience dog with positive reinforcement, they need corrections.”
“You can’t make a living training dogs.”
“You can’t run a business, you’re too young.”
“You can’t be successful if you don’t go to college.”

Tessie won her competition obedience debut with perfect stays, which I retrained using that clicker that everyone said was only for tricks, not for obedience. She never lost a point on a stay exercise during her entire career. At Tessie’s final obedience competition, showing in Veterans, the other dog got up and started humping her during the sit-stay exercise. Tessie didn’t move a muscle. Not bad for a cookie pusher. She also went on to become the first English Springer Spaniel to earn a weight pull championship, a sport she adored.

As for all that other negativity, I think Spring Forth’s success speaks for itself. We have a team of six full-time trainers and assistants, so not only am I making a living training dogs, so are several other people! Since 2010 we’ve trained over 500 dogs to be more awesome, no physical corrections required. No pain, lots of gain.

Thank You

Thank you, Tessie, for lighting a fire in me that will never go out. I am forever inspired to help others avoid the mistakes I made with you and gain the enjoyment you gave my entire family for fifteen years. Be good, moo-cow dog.

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The 2018 STAR Puppy Challenge

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AKC STAR Puppy Testing in Providence, RI | Spring Forth Dog AcademyAre you ready to commit to the training and socialization your puppy deserves?

Join our AKC STAR Puppy Challenge! Any puppy under 1 year of age can participate. Read more about the test here.

The STAR Puppy test makes a fabulous training goal for new puppy owners. It will set you & your puppy up for a lifetime of teamwork, solid communication, & fun! By meeting the criteria for the test, you’ll provide your puppy with a foundation of basic manners and age-appropriate socialization.

Preparing for the test will expose your puppy to many situations he’ll need to be comfortable with for the rest of his life. The test includes scenarios like grooming, being handled by strangers, wearing a collar or harness, going for walks, and more.

This test is a great first step toward the Canine Good Citizen program, trick dog testing, or dog sport competitions – but it’s also a great way to make sure you’re being an active participant in your puppy’s education.

So, we’re challenging you to commit to taking the test with your puppy. To be eligible for the STAR Puppy test, you must attend at least 6 manners classes with your puppy. Our goal is to test at least 25 puppies in 2018. Will your puppy be one of them?

Puppies are eligible to take the STAR Puppy test after attending six manners classes with their owners, and the test is free as part of your Flex Class Pass.  You can take the test after class on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. We’ll also be adding special “STAR Puppy Testing Events” to our group class calendar, too.

Upon passing the test, you will receive a special medallion from us and we’ll take your pup’s “graduation photo” and post it on Instagram and Facebook. You will also receive a certificate, medallion, and puppy handbook from the American Kennel Club.

To sign up for the challenge, contact us or talk to one of our team members at the front desk!