Training Your Dog to Come When Called

00Puppies, TrainingTags: , , ,

Coming when called is a behavior that dog owners almost universally desire. A great recall means the difference between participating in a lot of fun activities – such as romps on the beach, playing at the dog park, hiking off-leash in the woods, competing in dog sports – and sitting on the sidelines. We get asked about it so often that we have a class, Come This Way, devoted to building and maintaining this skill!

It is also the behavior that dog owners take for granted in their new puppies, or inadvertently punish by making simple mistakes. Building a strong recall means avoiding these common pitfalls and maintaining a specific, positive association in your dog’s mind to his recall cue.

Teaching Your Dog to Come When Called | Spring Forth Dog Academy in Providence, RI

My Name = AWESOME!

Imagine how most dogs react when they hear a potato chip bag crinkle. They stop what they’re doing and come flying into the room! Hearing that sound is the highlight of their day. THAT is the response you want to your dog’s recall word.

The response to the crinkle sound is so strong because the potato chip bag almost always means a salty, oily, tasty special snack, and it definitely never means playtime is over, nail trimming time, or some other form of discomfort.

Recalls always need to be a positive experience for your dog. Be sure not to call him if you have to do something he doesn’t like. Common examples of things that are punishing to dogs include bringing him back inside when he’d rather be playing in the yard, calling him to groom him or trim his nails, and calling him only to pat him on the head (which most dogs don’t enjoy, but that’s a different topic). More info

AKC STAR Puppy Program

00Puppies, TrainingTags: , , , , ,

AKC STAR Puppy Testing in Providence, RI | Spring Forth Dog AcademyAre you a responsible puppy owner? The American Kennel Club’s STAR Puppy program is designed to reward owners who take their puppies to training classes. “STAR” is an acronym for the four critical parts of puppy raising: Socialization, Training, Activity, and Responsibility.

The AKC recognizes that well-trained puppies make better companions and are less likely to be relinquished to shelters. In fact, behavior problems are the #1 reason for giving up a dog to a rescue. The STAR Puppy program is an incentive program for responsible puppy ownership. Working towards this goal will give you and your puppy a head start toward a lifetime of great behavior.

In order to be eligible for testing, puppies need to attend at least 6 group dog training classes with their owner. The program is open to all puppies up to one year of age, regardless of breed or mix.

Once your puppy has attended at least 6 classes with us, we can test your puppy immediately after any of our Flex Classes. It doesn’t take long, and many of the test items can be observed during class time.

STAR Puppy Test Items

The STAR Puppy test consists of “20 Steps to Success,” a total of 20 test items. The first six are owner behaviors, and the other 14 are puppy behaviors. The items are:

Puppy Day School | Puppy Training in Providence, RI | Spring Forth Dog AcademyOwner Behaviors

1. Maintains puppy’s health (vaccines, exams, appears healthy)

2. Owner receives Responsible Dog Owner’s Pledge

3. Owner describes adequate daily play and exercise plan

4. Owner and puppy attend at least 6 classes by an AKC Approved CGC Evaluator

5. Owner brings bags to classes for cleaning up after puppy

6. Owner has obtained some form of ID for puppy-collar tag, etc.

Puppy Behaviors

7. Free of aggression toward people during at least 6 weeks of class

8. Free of aggression toward other puppies in class

9. Tolerates collar or body harness of owner’s choice

10. Owner can hug or hold puppy (depending on size)

11. Puppy allows owner to take away a treat or toy

Pre-Canine Good Citizen Test Behaviors

Puppy Training in Providence, RI | Spring Forth Dog Academy12. Allows (in any position) petting by a person other than the owner

13. Grooming-Allows owner handling and brief exam (ears, feet)

14. Walks on a Leash-Follows owner on lead in a straight line (15 steps)

15. Walks by other people-Walks on leash past other people 5-ft away

16. Sits on command-Owner may use a food lure

17. Down on command-Owner may use a food lure

18. Comes to owner from 5-ft when name is called

19. Reaction to Distractions-distractions are presented 15-ft away

20. Stay on leash with another person (owner walks 10 steps and returns)

What Comes Next?

After passing the test, owners mail the completed test form to AKC to receive an AKC STAR Puppy Medal, a certificate, and the AKC Puppy Handbook. The STAR Puppy program is a stepping stone to the three tests of the AKC Canine Good Citizen program.

If you have a new puppy, check out our Flex Class program to get started in training classes. You can start any time, and begin working toward your goal of a STAR Puppy!

2017 Holiday Gift Guide for Your Dog

00Product Reviews

Our Orange Dog-Themed Christmas Tree | Spring Forth Dog AcademyHo, ho, ho! What is Santa bringing your dog for Christmas this year? Or, do you need eight great gifts for each night of Hanukkah? Don’t sweat it – the Spring Forth team and I have got you covered. Here are some ideas to place beside the Yule Log…

Fun Food Puzzles

A food puzzle is a great way to keep your dog out of your hair this holiday season! Fill one of these great toys with your dog’s kibble, and they’ll take 10-30 minutes to eat a meal instead of the usual 30 seconds. Food puzzles promote good digestion and give your dog a way to burn off some excess energy.

Northmate Green Feeder | Spring Forth Dog Academy

The Northmate Green Feeder is a slow-feeding bowl that is shaped like futuristic blades of grass. Simply dump your dog’s food over the top of the toy and the kibble will fall into the nooks and crannies between the “grass.” Your dog will forage around the toy to collect every bit of food. Unlike many other food-dispensing toy, the Green Feeder works great with canned food, The Honest Kitchen, and raw diets, too!

This dishwasher-safe toy comes in 2 sizes. Small is perfect dogs under ~25lbs or larger dogs with narrow snouts, like Whippets and small Collies, and Large is great for all other dogs.

PetSafe Twist N Treat | Spring Forth Dog AcademyThe PetSafe Twist N Treat is a versatile food-dispensing toy that is perfect for leaving in the crate with your puppy. You can easily adjust the difficulty level by twisting it tighter or leaving it open. Unlike some other food-stuffable toys, you can either fill the Twist N Treat with kibble or line it with something gooey, such as canned dog food, peanut butter, cream cheese, or liverwurst for an added challenge.

The Twist N Treat is made of a slightly softer rubber than many other dog toys on the market, so we don’t recommend it for “power chewers,” but it’s rare that one of our Day School dogs manages to do damage to it.

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.)