Category: Group Classes

fbstarpuppychallenge

The 2018 STAR Puppy Challenge

00Group Classes, Puppies, TrainingTags: , , , ,

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!

Summer Trick Training Challenge

10Dog Sports, Events, Group Classes, TrainingTags: , , ,

AKC Trick Dog Testing and Titles | Providence, RITrick training grows your bond with your dog and builds your training and communication skills. It’s a great way to burn off some of your dog’s energy when it’s too hot or rainy to play outside. Plus, it’s a ton of fun!

The American Kennel Club recently added a Trick Dog program to their catalog of events, which means your dog can earn official AKC titles for passing four different levels of tests.

For all of these reasons, we’re always trying to find ways to encourage our students to spend some time teaching tricks. So, we’re doing something brand new: a Summer Trick Training Challenge!

From now through August 31st, any dog who is signed up for one of our Intro to Dog Tricks classes will be added to this board in our lobby…

Trick Training Challenge Progress Board | Spring Forth Dog Academy, Providence RI

This board will keep track of everyone’s progress through the Novice and some Intermediate level tricks! For each trick you complete, we’ll place a sticker in the corresponding box on the board.

More info

“New & Completely Different” Flexible Group Dog Training Classes

04Group Classes, Training

abbygroupclass{{ UPDATE 2018: This is an old blog post! For the most up-to-date details and unbroken links, please visit our Flex Class page for everything you need to know. }}

 

We’ve held group dog training classes here in Providence for over two years now. We have always been interested in feedback from our wonderful students. Some of the things we heard back about our group class program included:

“They’re too early.”
“They’re too late.”
“That day of the week doesn’t work for me.”
“I’m going on vacation and will miss a class… or two… or three.”
“What if I get sick and skip a week?”
“I want to try a dog sport like agility, but I don’t know if my dog will like it.”

At first, we weren’t sure it was possible to address these concerns in our group class program. The whole point of group classes is that they’re not customizable… they’re held at a time that is convenient for most (but not all) so multiple people can attend together which brings the overall cost down. Allowing excused absences, vacation days, etc. became a logistical nightmare, so we just didn’t allow it.

Group Dog Training Class Graduates | Spring Forth Dog AcademyBut, we’re always looking to shake things up at Spring Forth, like we did in 2014 when we launched our Puppy Day School program. Our goal was for it to be better than dog daycare and way more in-depth than a Puppy Kindergarten class. It worked – clients love it, and the dogs make incredible progress that is simply not achievable in weekly lessons or classes.

So I said to my instructor team, “How can we reinvent our dog training classes to be even more awesome?”

And here’s what we came up with.

Introducing Flex Classes: Flexible Attendance Group Training Classes

Flex Classes are so different from regular dog training classes that it’s difficult to know where to start. I hope you’ll stick with me and read the whole post. Here goes:

You purchase a Class Pass that allows you to attend classes on your schedule.

Classes are offered on a rotating basis on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings, and we’ve got a handy-dandy calendar set up so you can see when each class is offered. (Flex Classes start in December, so skip ahead to next month on the calendar.) If you can only attend one specific time slot each week, that’s okay. The classes will rotate so you can learn about every topic. But if your schedule is a little more flexible, you can attend classes multiple times each week and train your dog even faster.

You have plenty of time to attend classes: 2 to 6 months depending on which program you purchase. So if you need to take a night or week or month off… no sweat! Just pick up where you left off.

Focus on Specific Skills and Behaviors

Classes are based on particular topics like coming when called (Come This Way), stay (Settle & Stay Put), loose leash walking (Polite in Public), etc. This is in contrast to classes based on skill level or a dog’s age. Whether you’re a first-time dog owner with a brand new puppy, or an experienced dog trainer polishing your competition dog’s skills, there will be lots of great information in each class for you.

The classes are designed for you to repeat until you have mastered a skill – or at least achieved a level of success you’re happy with. You also get to focus on only the skills that matter to you. If your dog’s recall is great, but loose leash walking needs work, then just keep attending our Polite in Public class. There’s no need to spend time working on topics that don’t interest you.

Our three different levels of certification – Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced Dog Manners – will make sure your dog is learning everything they need to become a well-rounded family pet. You can get tested after any class, and it only takes a few minutes.

Perfect for Puppies and Dog Sport Enthusiasts, Too!

Our Flex Classes are absolutely perfect for puppies. They’re only 45-minutes long, which is better for young attention spans. You can start right away instead of waiting for a particular start date. Our Super Puppy Flex Pass includes unlimited attendance at Puppy Playgroup, our drop-in socialization class. Plus, it comes at a discounted rate! We like to reward owners who are doing the right thing by getting started early.

If dog sports like noseworkagility, or rally are your thing, they’re offered in our Flex Class program as well. You can dabble in a new sport by attending class just once to see if you like it, or attend on a regular basis while still enjoying the flexibility that our new program allows.

Phew! I think that’s everything.

I really hope you’ll check out our Flex Classes. We have worked really hard on the program, and we want to know what you think. Now through Thursday, November 17th we’re offering 10% off all Class Passes. No promotion code necessary – it’s already discounted in our online store. (This offer can’t be combined with any other offers or promotions.)

Introduction to Dog Agility Class [VIDEO]

00Dog Agility, Dog Sports, Group Classes, Training, VideosTags: , , , ,

It’s no secret that dog agility is my passion. 2016 is going to be my 12th consecutive year of competing in this great sport. For several years, I’ve taught beginner dog agility classes in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. I decided to put together a video showing what I teach in this introductory class to give prospective students an idea of what to expect.

So, welcome to our Introduction to Dog Agility class!

Who should take this class?

My focus with this class is introducing the basic skills of dog agility: over, under, around, through, and on – with a variety of objects. These items have different textures, some of them wobble and tip, and others make noise. Some of these items are actual agility obstacles, like the bar jump, table, and tunnel. Others serve as stepping-stones to doing more complicated obstacles like the dogwalk and seesaw.

Introduction to Dog Agility class is a huge confidence booster for dogs. Penny, the lanky hound mix in the video, started this class just a few weeks after being adopted and totally blossomed in this four week class. On the first week of class, she didn’t even want to walk on the smooth lobby floor to get into the training area, and was tentative about most of the obstacles. On week four, as you can see, she was flying over jumps and investigating everything!

What about puppies?

This class is also a really great socialization opportunity for puppies, and you’ll see several cute pups in the video having a great time. Some veterinarians will tell you that only adult dogs should go to agility class, but that only applies if you’re working with someone who doesn’t understand how to modify exercises for young puppies.

Dogs under a year of age do not jump or weave in our agility classes. Equipment is kept very low to the ground so puppies aren’t launching off of equipment and landing hard on their still-developing joints. All of the exercises are done at the puppy’s pace – there is no luring or dragging.

How can I practice at home?

I focus on introducing exercises that you can practice at home, with stuff you already have in your house – couch cushions, trash cans, broomsticks, books, that sort of thing. Homework each week includes a trick to develop your dog’s flexibility and confidence, and build your training skills.

I pack a lot of fun into these four-week classes! If you’d like to join me in Providence, you can sign up online here. The only prerequisite is that your dog has taken a group clicker training class prior to starting agility.

The Power of Peanut Butter

21Group Classes, Helpful Hints, Reactive Dogs, TrainingTags: , , , , , ,
Peanut Butter

Behold! One of the most versatile dog training tools known to man. (Photo Credit: Victoria Chilinski)

What’s your favorite training tool? Dog trainers are always looking for the latest and greatest items to add to their bag of tricks. My answer can be found at any supermarket or convenience store: peanut butter!

For Agility Dogs

My passion for peanut butter began while attending agility classes with Tessie. She is a whiner, and would anxiously await her next turn on the equipment by making all sorts of strange noises. Springers are capable of making some pretty bizarre sounds and Tessie is no exception. (We call her the canine tea kettle.) A PB-stuffed Kong kept her quiet and relaxed while waiting in her crate.

Later in her agility career, I discovered that Clean Run sells refillable squeeze tubes. By filling one with peanut butter, I could keep Tessie’s focus ringside. This was something I struggled with because Tessie doesn’t enjoy tugging away from home. (Canned dog food works really well in squeeze tubes, too!)

For Reactive Dogs

My next great peanut butter discovery came while working with our puppy Finch. He is reactive towards people and other dogs. Finch strongly prefers playing with toys over eating treats, especially outdoors, which is where he sees his triggers. PB was the answer. It was valuable enough to him that he would take it while working outside. I also use crunchy peanut butter to disguise his pills — the broken pill pieces blend right in with the nut chunks!

I think that there is more to this than enjoying a tasty snack, though. My theory is that the act of licking is calming to the brain. I think it may have its roots in nursing behavior. Horses exhibit a “lick and chew” displacement behavior which is sort of like an equine calming signal. Perhaps someday someone will research this — does the use of a “lickable” treat promote calm, relaxed behavior?

Kong toys are perfect for enjoying peanut butter! (Photo by OakleyOriginals)

I have noticed other benefits, too. Other dog trainers often use peanut butter for dogs that tend to bark during group training classes. The PB basically glues the dog’s tongue to the roof of his mouth, allowing the owner a chance to reinforce quiet, polite behavior.

For that reason, I began using PB with my Reactive Recovery students. That class is the noisiest, with several dogs that will start barking at the drop of a hat (literally!). It did help to quiet the class down, but it had a wonderful side effect. The dogs made the silliest faces as they licked the peanut butter from their muzzles, and the owners began to laugh!

The tension level in the class dropped dramatically. With the laughing came more relaxed handlers. They felt more comfortable in class and progress came more quickly as a result.

Peanut butter also provides another benefit while working with reactive or fearful dogs: counter-conditioning. Typically, counter-conditioning is done by feeding the dog lots of tasty treats while being exposed to a trigger (like a person approaching). No trigger = no treats.

Using PB takes some of the work out of counter-conditioning, because it takes the dog several seconds of licking to fully consume it. The whole time this is happening, the brain is making the association between the trigger and the wonderful taste of peanut butter.

For Excited, Jumpy Dogs

In one of my Basic Dog Manners classes, I discovered another fun use for PB: teaching four-on-the-floor to a very bouncy dog. Capturing moments of calm was difficult, particularly when working on loose leash walking. But we soon found that the little dog couldn’t eat peanut butter and jump at the same time!

As she licked and licked to get the PB off the roof offer mouth, she walked calmly with all four feet on the ground. Another student remarked that the change was so significant that it was if that dog had been drugged. Never before have I so desperately wished for “before and after” video clips. It was quite remarkable.

In conclusion, now I crack open a jar of peanut butter and prepare a few plastic spoons before all of my classes! I’ll leave you with this video clip of Finch enjoying peanut butter as a five-month-old puppy. If this doesn’t make you smile, I don’t know what will! 🙂

Related Links