When Pigs Fly: Training Success with Impossible Dogs – Jane Killion
- This is the best training book you can find! Jane breeds, raises and competes with Bull Terriers – a breed not known for its biddability. This book is well written, enjoyable to read and packed with great, science based training advice. Even if you do not have an ‘impossible dog’ this book will help you understand your dog and make your training more enjoyable and effective. My #1 go to training book!
Plenty in Life is Free - Kathy Sdao
- This little book is my second most favourite training book. Rather than addressing specific training activities, this book will help you see training in a whole new light – and help you build a stronger relationship with your dog. A direct rebuttal to the ‘trainer as alpha’, nothing in life is free approach, Kathy talks about training from the viewpoint of grace. If you are frustrated with your dog, or your training, this is a great little read.
Cooperative Care: Seven Steps to Stress-Free Husbandry – Deborah A. Jones
- Learn how to make grooming and veterinary / health care a positive experience for your dog.
Click to Calm - Emma Parsons
- A great resource for owners with dogs that are uncomfortable around other dogs, or people. Learn how to use positive reinforcement to help your dog develop comfort and calm in situations that he finds stressful.
Doggie Language: A Dog Lover's Guide to Understanding your Best Friend - Lili Chin
- This great little book will help you learn to 'read' your dog's body language and be aware of his emotions. Understanding your dog's emotional state will help you build a stronger relationship with your dog, advocate for him when needed and train more effectively. Lili Chin is a wonderful artist who has created many effective educational materials with her 'doggie drawings'.
Product / Business Recommendations
Mes Amis leashes – through my dog training classes, I see many people struggling with heavy leashes that are uncomfortable on the hands. Mes Amis leashes are soft and you can easily hold several loops in your palm, while also handing your clicker in the same hand. You will never get hand or wrist burn form a Mes Amis leash. Even more – they come in such a wide range of beautiful colours that you will find yourself wanting more than one. Leashes (4’ and 6’), Martingale (limited slip) and Buckle collars in matching colours are available. In the Calgary area your local source for Mes Amis Leashes is Tybrushe.
Nearly Naked Neckwear - a locally owned Calgary business specializing in hand made, unique collars and leashes. I particularly like their fabric collars which are less prone to cutting the coat than webbing collars. If you want something unique for your dog, check out their vast range of options for a personalized collar.
RC Pets Hound collars – Hound collars are a limited slip (non choking) collar that is wide opposite the D ring and narrows down to normal collar width at the slip loop and D ring. The wide section distributes pressure so that instead of putting intense pressure over the trachea, thyroid and neck vessels, the pressure is more widely distributed. Hound collars are designed for dogs that have a skull that is only minimally larger than the neck, or even smaller so that the collar does not slip off of then dog pulls back but they are also particularly helpful for dogs that have a sensitive throat or cough / choke when walked on a regular collar.
https://www.rcpets.com (the hound collar is not easy to find on the website so I suggest contacting them directly)
Bully Buddy – the bully buddy is a hard plastic device that looks a bit like a fat, rounded dumbbell and has a central hole through which you can feed a bully stick. A clamp firmly secures the bully stick in place. This device prevents your dog from swallowing whole that last small piece of bully stick. The size depends on the size of you dog and the size of the bully stick you use. You can use the code WISH10 to get 10% off if you order directly from BowWow labs.
Training Treat Recommendations
What you use for treats in training matters! While we do not always have to use treats in training, they are easy, convenient, quick and highly desirable for most dogs and so are very appropriate for use in classes where active play with balls, tugs and flirt poles can be time consuming and may be distracting to other dogs. For most dogs, treats are valued resources - but not all treats have the same value. Dry treats like kibble, dry biscuits and cheerios are generally low value. They will suffice for training at home, in a low distraction environment and for working on simple or already leaned behaviours. When working in more distracting environments or training new or more complex behaviours you want to bring out the higher value treats. Having a variety of very high and high value treats is helpful for working in group class settings. Here are some things that I have found helpful - even with picky dogs:
- Hot dogs - slice lengthwise in quarters then each quarter into 20 slices (= 80 pieces per hot dog), put on a paper towel and microwave in 10 second increments until the pieces are a bit dry but not burnt. This will remove some of the fat and should you happen to forget a few in a pocket you won't have a moldy mess to content with later. Be careful with hot dogs as even with microwaving the fat content may be high and overdoing it can cause issues for some dogs. You can pop a handful of hotdog pieces into a baggie full of kibble to 'flavour and scent' the kibble, if your dog is crazy about hot dogs and you do not want to over do it.
- Cooked chicken meat
- String cheese - or small cubes of hard cheese
- Veggies - does your dog like carrots? red pepper? cauliflower heart? Some dogs really enjoy their veggies and you can make a healthy treat by preparing a bag of veggies for their training sessions.
- Ziwi Peak dog food - this is a very expensive product if used to feed your dog, but a bag of it goes a long way when used for treats. The product comes as a small flat wafer that you can easily break into small pieces and is definitely more appealing to most dogs than dry kibble. It comes in a variety of flavours - beef, lamb etc. It is actually more economical to buy a bag of Ziwi Peak and reserve for training than to buy the equivalent weight of small soft treats like Zukes.
- Instinct Raw Boost Mixers - another product meant as dog food that makes a great treat if your dog is not used to getting it every day,
- Zukes Minis - come in a variety of flavours and are a nice size for medium to large dogs. For small dogs you can easily split a treat in half with a fingernail, or cut them up in advance.
- Rollover - another 'dog food' that makes great training treats for dogs that do not get this as their usual food. Cut in slices then small pieces.
- Liver pate is a very high value treat for most dogs.
What if your dog won't take treats? A very distracted or anxious dog will have difficulty taking treats - the bigger, harder and drier the treat, the more difficult it is for them to chew and swallow. If your dog is not taking treats at all, the first step is to determine if the situation is simply too much for him and you need to do something to make the situation more manageable for him - increasing distance from other dogs or people or working with a visual barrier etc. If your dog is able to give you a bit of focus and seems even a tiny bit interested in treats but is not able to eat dry treats, you can try lickable treats - such as liver pate or cream cheese (on a spoon) or baby food, direct from the jar or from a squeezable pouch.