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The 2018 STAR Puppy Challenge

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 […]

By |2018-01-10T02:30:22+00:00January 10, 2018|Group Classes, Puppies, Training|Comments Off on The 2018 STAR Puppy Challenge

Myth Busting: Dogs That Aren’t Food Motivated

Strata Gets a Treat We once thought Strata was “not treat motivated” when in reality, he needed to lose a bit of weight and be offered tastier treats!

When dog owners find out that clicker training requires using a lot of dog treats, some express concern. They start to tell me that their dogs are not food motivated. I have good news: all dogs are food motivated!

Dogs have to eat. If your dog wasn’t motivated by food in some capacity, she would be dead. This seems obvious, but many people don’t see the connection between “food” and “treats”!

It is certainly true that some dogs are more food motivated than others. But your dog doesn’t need to be a perpetually hungry chow-hound for you to use treats in training. Here are my considerations when it seems that a dog doesn’t enjoy treats.

Does the dog need to lose weight?

Approximately 40% of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese. (Source.) It is common for dogs that are overweight to refuse treats because their caloric needs have already been met. I tell owners to talk with their veterinarians about reducing their dog’s weight. You can start by reducing your dog’s meals by 15-20% and removing fatty snacks like pig ears from her diet.

Does the dog like the treats that you offer her?

Often the owner is offering something that is mediocre from the dog’s perspective, like hard biscuits or kibble. In a previous blog post, I covered the subject of what makes a great dog treat. The best treats for training are small, soft, and very tasty. This is in stark contrast to a big, hard, […]

By |2017-08-07T20:01:58+00:00August 5, 2017|Myth Busting|9 Comments

Why “Paw” is Problematic

Why "Paw" is Problematic | Spring Forth Dog Academy in Providence, RI Photo by Bonner Springs Library (Flickr Creative Commons)

Many of you know that I enjoy teaching my dogs tricks, so today’s post might come as a bit of a surprise. However, there’s one behavior that dog owners love to teach that often interferes with their progress in Day School and makes their training path harder. That behavior? “Paw” or “shake.”

Teaching your dog to put his paw on you to earn praise or a treat is easy and seems like fun. But if your dog jumps up on people or paws at you for attention, you’re building value in your dog’s mind for the same behavior you’re trying to get rid of in other circumstances. It’s confusing to your dog. Is it acceptable to put your paws on people or not?

Additionally, the way most owners teach this behavior is problematic. In most cases, the owner puts a treat in their closed fist and waits for their dog to start pawing at it. When the dog makes contact with their hand, they release the cookie. We don’t want dogs to make contact with us if we’re holding food. Watch my Self-Control Around Food video and you will see why teaching “paw” in this manner is counter-productive.

We typically run into trouble while teaching down to a dog who knows paw, too. We teach down using a food lure, which turns into a hand signal. That looks a lot like the closed fist many owners use to teach “paw.”

Is it ever okay to teach “paw?”

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that you never teach your dog this behavior. I have! While earning my certification through Karen […]

By |2017-07-14T19:15:32+00:00July 14, 2017|Training|Comments Off on Why “Paw” is Problematic

Summer Trick Training Challenge

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.

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By |2017-07-13T14:42:45+00:00July 13, 2017|Dog Sports, Events, Group Classes, Training|Comments Off on Summer Trick Training Challenge

Training Your Dog to Come When Called

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 […]

By |2017-02-27T16:15:50+00:00February 27, 2017|Puppies, Training|Comments Off on Training Your Dog to Come When Called

AKC STAR Puppy Program

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 […]

By |2016-12-29T22:14:30+00:00December 29, 2016|Puppies, Training|Comments Off on AKC STAR Puppy Program

5 Skills Your Dog Needs to Pass the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Test

Preparing for the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Test | Spring Forth Dog Blog Loose leash walking is one of the most important skills to master before taking the CGC test, because it is a part of several test items.

In last week’s blog post, An Overview of the AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Test, I described the ten elements of the CGC test. Preparing for this test is key. There are a few specific behaviors that not all “well behaved” dogs know.

Preparing for the CGC Test

The CGC test is designed to reward well-mannered dogs and their owners. The first step towards a well-mannered pet is training. What people consider “polite behavior” does not come naturally to dogs. Sitting politely for greeting, walking on a loose leash, and coming when called are skills that need to be trained step-by-step. A basic obedience class should build the foundation for many of the skills necessary to pass the test.

Some trainers offer group classes specifically geared towards the Canine Good Citizen test. These classes are typically taught by CGC evaluators who will be able to find the weaknesses in your dog’s training and help you overcome them. Practicing the test items each week will also increase your familiarity with the rules, making test day as stress-free as possible. We cover the Canine Good Citizen skills in our Advanced Dog Manners group class.

It’s not impossible to train your dog by yourself to pass the CGC test. If you decide to go that route, study the test items carefully and be sure to practice in public places, such as dog-friendly parks and pet stores, so your dog gets used to performing around the distractions that will […]

By |2016-10-03T17:19:42+00:00October 3, 2016|Training|Comments Off on 5 Skills Your Dog Needs to Pass the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Test

An Overview of the AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Test

An Overview of the AKC Canine Good Citizen Test | Spring Forth Dog Blog

Every September, the American Kennel Club sponsors Responsible Dog Ownership Days. On that note, I would like to discuss the Canine Good Citizen program, which rewards responsible dog owners across the country. As an approved AKC Canine Good Citizen evaluator, I am often asked about the requirements for passing the test. What does it take to become a Canine Good Citizen?

Eligibility

First, the CGC test is open to dogs of any breed or mix of breeds. One of the most common misconceptions is that dogs must be purebred, since the test was created by the American Kennel Club, but that’s not the case. (Did you know that mixed-breed dogs can now compete in AKC performance events like agility, rally, and obedience, too? It’s true!)

There is no age limit for the CGC test. However, AKC now has a separate program just for puppies called S.T.A.R. Puppy. Puppies are eligible for S.T.A.R. until they reach 1 year of age.

Test Overview

The Canine Good Citizen test has ten exercises, and the dog must pass all ten to earn its certificate. The exercises include the following:

Accepting a friendly stranger. During this test item, the dog allows a stranger to approach its handler, and remains neutral while the handler and stranger exchange pleasantries.

Sitting politely for petting. The dog sits and allows a stranger to approach and pet its head and body. The dog can stand up, but may not show “shyness or resentment” (or jump up and give the stranger kisses, which is far more common!).

Appearance and grooming. The dog must appear healthy and well-groomed to pass the test. The evaluator will […]

By |2016-09-29T14:28:37+00:00September 29, 2016|Training|Comments Off on An Overview of the AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Test

Puppy Day School Success Story: Alice [VIDEO]

Puppy Day School Success Story - Alice | Puppy Socialization in Providence, RIMeet Alice! She is a 9-month-old Border Collie mix puppy. Her owner enrolled her in our Puppy Day School program to work on her socialization skills around other dogs.

Alice missed her critical socialization period while waiting to be adopted. Then, shortly after coming to her new home, she broke her leg and had to be kept quiet for several weeks. She was nervous of new places, unfamiliar people, and most other dogs.

This is a typical outcome when puppies are underexposed to the “real world.” As the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior puts it in their position statement on puppy socialization:

The primary and most important time for puppy socialization is the first three months of life. During this time puppies should be exposed to as many new people, animals, stimuli and environments as can be achieved safely and without causing overstimulation manifested as excessive fear, withdrawal or avoidance behavior.

(Click here to read the full statement.)

Alice had already been rejected by a doggy daycare due to her antisocial behavior. She also refused to take treats in unfamiliar places. Before she started in our program, her training progressed at a glacial pace.

This video shows how in just a few short days, she went from wallflower to wild child. We’re thrilled with her progress and think you will be, too!

These results are quite typical for our Puppy Day School program. This immersive socialization experience is unmatched by group classes or private lessons. Socialization results are seen in days, not weeks, for dogs in this program. If you’ve got a nervous or fearful puppy, this is for you. Or, if you’ve got a brand […]

By |2016-09-27T00:57:37+00:00September 27, 2016|Training, Videos|Comments Off on Puppy Day School Success Story: Alice [VIDEO]

How to Chop Dog Treats in 5 Minutes or Less

In our Day School program, we go through a lot of dog treats! During our busiest weeks, it is not uncommon for us to use 10 pounds or more. We’re always looking for the fastest and most cost-effective ways to prepare and store this much food in our training studio.

When it comes to food rolls, we have this down to a science. We recommend and sell Happy Howie’s treat rolls. Happy Howie’s rolls are way less crumbly than other rolls on the market, which is why they are our favorite. These are 1- or 2-pound chubs of semi-soft dog treats which you can chop up or tear chunks off to give to your dog. Because you take care of the cutting yourself, these treats are very inexpensive per-pound.

Chop Treats in 5 Minutes or Less

Here’s how we process the 2-pound Happy Howie’s treat rolls at the Academy in just 5 minutes or less.

1. Unwrap the roll. While a pair of scissors works just fine to snip the plastic open, we use a pair of large dog nail clippers.

2. Slice the roll into discs. We usually aim for 1/4″ thickness – these are a bit thick.

2_sliced

3. Place one disc at a time on to the cutting portion of your Vidalia Onion Chopper.

“Wait, what?”

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