Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Recent Experience as a Student in an Obedience Training Group Class

I recently signed up for an “advanced” obedience group class because it has been a while since any of my guys were in a group class as a “student” and I wanted to work on and improve skills in a group environment. I don’t know if this class was actually “advanced”, per se, but basic obedience was a “prerequisite”. I won’t mention where I took this class or who the trainer is.

Well, I was horrified – absolutely horrified. The people in this class were known to the trainer so it was pretty clear that they had taken her basic obedience course – whatever that might be. These people were yelling “NO” at their dogs left and right and using leash corrections like crazy! A 15-pound ShihPoo was on a choke chain and the owner was not afraid to use it viciously. One man with a very large black lab was bent over his dog yelling “NO” very loudly right in the dog’s ear. Perhaps he thought his dog was deaf? I think maybe the dog might be deaf after all that yelling in his ear – he certainly didn’t respond at all. I can’t believe people still train this way! The dogs were not happy AND, more importantly, they were NOT obeying. After your dog fails 3-4 times, you would think one would reevaluate the methods and ask himself if this is really working for him. I had to bite my tongue over and over again. I wanted to scream at the people who were yelling at their dogs and ask them how they liked it.

We mostly worked on stay and everyone’s dog broke their stays repeatedly. When the dog broke the people were told to yell “NO” at the dog from a distance then go back to the dog and put the dog back in position. This was generally accomplished with leash corrections because the dogs often did not “sit” or “down” when told. Not once did I see any praise or encouragement or (God Forbid!) a reward. To be fair, the trainer did briefly mention once that it was ok to praise the dogs when they were doing well (only AFTER she saw me petting and praising Shmoopy), but no one did it – that I noticed – and the trainer did not emphasize using praise or ever even mention using rewards. The only dog that didn’t break her “stay” was, of course, my Shmoopy – despite how uncomfortable she was around all these strange dogs. Here was a classic case of dogs who never learned to Stay because they were not taught properly (in my opinion) and they were pushed beyond their abilities so, of course, they failed. It was interesting to note that the trainer actually told everyone to call their dogs to them (“Come”) from across the room, AFTER having put the dog in a “STAY”! Another probable reason why these dogs couldn’t “stay” in the first place! NEVER weaken your dog’s stay by calling them out of it! That’s when we use “wait”. I walked back to Shmoopy, praised and petted her for a good stay, then told her to wait while I again walked across the room. Only then did I call her to me and, by the way, I just used the hand signal – no shouting for me!

We also did “heeling”. That was a joke because most of the heeling took place on a tight leash and the dogs were jerked around. Again, to be fair, there was one Cavalier that walked nicely on leash with its owner. I walked Shmoopy without picking up the leash. She was not “heeling” in the truest sense (I never taught it) but her Loose Leash Walking is closer to a Heel than any of those other dogs will ever be. She drifted out away from me just a bit when I got too close to a big dog but I know that was because she was frightened. She didn’t say anything but I think the trainer expected me to correct her for drifting but why would I correct her when she was frightened? What would that teach her? I simply continued to walk and she resumed her position next to me after we passed the dog. Not bad AND not on leash! She walked with me because she chose to – not because I forced her. I much prefer my dog to be a willing participant.

I will probably continue to go to the class because I already paid for it and I do want to refresh skills in the group environment but I won’t enjoy it. It actually hurt me to see these dogs being jerked around. But it was, for me, a validation of positive reinforcement methods – as if I needed validation of my methods. Shmoopy did so well in the class (better than even I expected) and I never raised my voice or corrected her beyond the occasional “uh uh” said very softly (she was reluctant to go into the down position a couple of times and popped up twice – again, nervousness). That’s all the correction she ever needed and all I ever want to have to do.

I share this because I want people to have a good relationship with their dogs and train with positive methods. I want your dog to WANT to obey you because you have a good relationship and your dog TRUSTS you and has learned that obedience can earn rewards. A dog that is repeatedly yelled at and jerked with leash corrections will not trust you and will not be a willing participant in obedience. In my opinion, my recent experience clearly illustrates that compulsion methods are not better and, in fact, often don’t work. When the owners were far enough away from their dogs that the threat of immediate punishment was no longer there, the dogs did as they pleased. Shmoopy was not happy to be left in a stay in the middle of a bunch of strange dogs (again, she’s very nervous around strange dogs) while I walked more than 50 feet away (it was a school gym) but she did it! She did it because she has learned that 1) I always come back (eventually) 2) She is rewarded for staying (as opposed to punished for failure) 3) She TRUSTS me. She walked with me because she chose to, NOT because I had the leash. In all my training with her I never once used force or yelled at her and she was the best behaved in the entire group. That is the real point I wanted to share with you. You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar!

Let's keep our dogs with...

Happy Tails!

Helen Del Bove
Smarty Paws Dog Training

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Dog & Puppy Obedience Training Group Classes – Last 2 Classes for 2008!

Smarty Paws Dog Training Nassau County, NY…

Welcome back to the SmartyBlog! Smarty Paws announces the last 2 classes for the 2008 season will begin VERY soon. There’s still time to register! We have a Puppy Kindergarten class beginning 9/2 and a Basic Obedience class beginning 9/14. The class schedules are as follows:

Puppy Kindergarten, 6 classes for puppies up to 6 months:
1) Tuesday, 9/02/08 @ 7pm
2) Tuesday, 9/09/08 @ 7pm
3) Tuesday, 9/16/08 @ 7pm
4) Tuesday, 9/30/08 @ 7pm
5) Thursday, 10/02/08 @ 7pm
6) Thursday, 10/23/08 @ 7pm

Basic Obedience, 8 classes for all ages, Sundays at 3pm:
1) 9/14/08
2) 9/28/08
3) 10/5/08
4) 10/12/08
5) 10/19/08
6) 10/26/08
7) 11/9/08
8) 11/16/08

As for existing classes – the Basic Obedience class is on hiatus until the 6th of September. I hope they are practicing with their dogs! The students in the Puppy Kindergarten Group Class graduated this week! Not all the students chose to show off and “strut their stuff” for the group but some did AND did so very well. Afterward the class had a good long romp. It was such wonderful weather on Tuesday evening that everyone was happy to be outside relaxing or playing. They all chased each other happily around the yard, wrestling and nipping at each other’s heels. Oh, and the puppies had fun too ;)

Based on the responses to my Satisfaction Survey, all the students were very happy with the class from all aspects – information, presentation, length, cost, etc… Whew! I’m always thrilled to hear that my students are happy with my training programs.

Well, that’s all the news in SmartyLand! Don’t forget to check us out at http://www.smartypawsny.com for class schedules, photos, tips and more.

"I dream of a world where every home has a happy dog and every dog has a happy home."
Happy Tails!

Helen Del Bove, ABCDT
Dog Lover & Trainer
Diving Enthusiast

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dog & Puppy Obedience Training in Nassau County

Smarty Paws Dog Training New Hyde Park, NY…

Welcome back to the SmartyBlog. The Smarty Paws’ students have been busy graduating!

Congratulations to our two recent graduates!...

Chloe, the Berner, graduated about a week ago. She completed her 6-week basic obedience training with flying colors and so young, too – just over 4 months old. No dog over 6-7 weeks is too young to start with positive dog training. Chloe did so well with her training that we actually went above and beyond the basics. Chloe and her family must now take some time to work on generalizing and improving her behaviors before moving on to “beyond basics”.

Just two days after Chloe, Samson, the Golden Retriever, also graduated his basic obedience course with flying colors! Samson is just about 8 months and growing fast. In addition to basics, his mom wanted him to learn to give his paw. No problem! Samson was an eager student, learning “Paw” in a matter of minutes. Samson and his mom and dad must also work on generalizing and improving his behaviors.

The Tuesday evening Puppy Kindergarten class performed very well last week with “Down” and Intro to “Stay”. Some of the owner’s were very skeptical about my ability to get their pups down. Ha ha! Non-believers no more! Of course the pups all went down. I’m hoping everyone practiced during the week. Tonight’s class will be busy with “Stay”, “Leave-It” and Intro to “Recall”.

The Saturday morning class went very well with practicing “Loose Leash Walking” (LLW). Some of the students are little challenged with LLW but if their owners follow my advice and consistently use the techniques I gave them, they should show improvement by our next class on 9/6.

Well, that’s all the news in SmartyLand! Don’t forget to check us out at http://www.smartypawsny.com/ for class schedules, photos, tips and more.

"I dream of a world where every home has a happy dog and every dog has a happy home."
Happy Tails!
Helen Del Bove, ABCDT
Dog Lover & Trainer
Diving Enthusiast

Mona Vie… drink it. feel it. share it.
Mona Vie Distributor #1214975

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Nassau County, NY Dog Basic Obedience Group Classes

New Hyde Park, NY... Smarty Paws Dog Training's Puppy Kindergarten and Basic Obedience group classes are going well!

I've been SO busy lately and haven't had time for much of anything besides work. On a personal note, I earned my NAUI certification as a SCUBA diver this weekend - YAY! I took a 3-day crash course 2 weekends ago then went out for my 5 open water dives this past weekend. That is partly why I haven't had any spare time recently. But, now, Caribbean, Here I come!! Well, not now, but soon, I hope.

I'm always blogging in haste and usually don't have time to think about making my blogs more interesting. Today is no exception, so please forgive me if I bore. I must try to work on that next time.

Anyway, back to classes. Both my Basic Obedience (BO) and Puppy Kindergarten (PK) classes are really great groups. Everyone is very into the classes and learning - I just love that! In my BO class, our little rescue Cairn Terrier, Daisy, is gaining confidence, she allowed me to approach her and give her treats at the last class so that was quite an improvement. She's still highly resistant to "SIT" so I spent a little time with her and her owners after class to show them yet another method. My fingers are crossed that she will arrive next week and be sitting on command. She's very sweet but spent most of her life in a puppy mill so she has almost no "social skills", is very nervous and shuts down easily. I am handling her very carefully. Chuleta, the Pugle, is doing so well with SIT, DOWN and now she's picking up on STAY too! Sasha, the Australian Shepherd, is becoming more comfortable in class and with me. She wouldn't let me near her at the first class and we are slowly making progress. I actually was able to work with her for a few minutes on Saturday before she spooked again. Unfortunately, Mia, Liger and Willy were absent for various reasons. I truly hope we see them this weekend.

The PK group is equally enthusiastic and learning very well. Jack, the Cairn-Poo is so quick and eager for his treats. I used him several times to demonstrate and he was a model student. His mom recently emailed me that he is a little over-eager for his rewards and jumping up from his "SIT" to get them so we may need to do some work on that at the next class. Poor Madison, the Yorkie, had a leg injury and could not participate in practicing walking or free time, but mom still had her at class to learn what she could - good for them! Buffy, the Shiba Inu, and Daisy, the American Eskimo Dog, had a ball playing during free time. Of course, Jack was right in the thick of it too. We have a new student in the class, Charlie, an adorable Chocolate Lab. He's quite young and I'm glad his mom is starting his training early. Chloe, the Berner, also came to PK class again. She's getting more social with the other dogs and more interested in playing with them. Chloe is one of my private clients who also comes to group classes for socialization. She's also very young - her family started her training very early. A wise choice for a dog that will eventually be over 100 pounds. Actually, starting early is always a wise choice and, with Positive Training, there is no such thing as too early after 7 weeks of age.

Well, that's all the group class news for now! Don't forget to check the website - http://www.smartypawsny.com/ for photos, tips and other information.

"I dream of a world where every home has a happy dog and every dog has a happy home"


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Dog & Puppy Training, Behavior & Group Classes in Nassau County

Smarty Paws Dog Training, New Hyde Park, NY...

Life has been hectic in SmartyLand the last couple of weeks. We lost our cat of 18 years last week as well as a moderately close family member. My poor cat was definitely showing her age but her rapid decline in the course of just a couple of weeks took us by surprise. We are very saddened to have lost her but we know she is in a better place - hopefully lounging in the sun. To add insult to injury, the SmartyComputer crashed last week and I was unable to get to my calendar and email for a while.

The Puppy Kindergarten Group Class kicked off on Tuesday with just the humans. It looks to be a good group (of course, I think they are all good groups!). Coincidentally, all the pups are of small to medium sized breeds. I can't wait to start with the pups this Tuesday. The class is totally filled - yay!

The Saturday morning Basic Obedience Group class (also filled - yay!) had the first class with the dogs. It was hot and uncomfortable in the sun so everyone was gathered in the shade. We covered "Focus", "Sit" and "Sit in Heel Position". The dogs were, of course, distracted by each other but the class went very well for a first class. We tried to let the 2 larger dogs, a Lab mix, Willy, and a Pitbull mix, Liger, have some free playtime but Liger, although very friendly, was a little too rambunctious and rough for Willy. Interestingly enough, when the Pugle, Chuleta, approached Liger, he was a total mush. He went down and showed his belly right to her. It was so cute and funny. Our Cairn, Daisy, was not pleased with the clickers and so we had to put some distance between her and the rest of the class. Our Italian Greyhound, Mia, and the Australian Shepherd, Sasha, were both very nervous in class but I am confident that they will adjust.

The Wednesday evening Basic Obedience Group class had their last lesson yesterday. The lesson was "Leave It" and the group was, at first, skeptical that their dogs would learn the behavior. Of course they did and fabulously so everyone was happy and duly impressed. I absolutely love teaching "Leave It". Next week is the last meeting of the class where everyone gets to "strut their stuff". I sure hope they've been working their dogs on the behaviors!

We have a Sunday afternoon (4:30pm) Basic Obedience Group Class that is scheduled to begin on August 3rd. I have not had time to properly advertise the class or otherwise get the word out. I may delay the class start date by a week or two.

Well, that's all the news in SmartyLand. Be sure to check the website at http://www.smartypawsny.com/ for tips, photos, class schedules and other information.

"I dream of a world where every home has a happy dog and every dog has a happy home."

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Dog Training in Nassau County, NY - Basic Obedience Group Classes

Smarty Paws Dog Training, New Hyde Park, NY...

Wednesday evening's group class went well, despite missing one student. Yesterday's lessons were "DOWN" and an introduction to "STAY". Axl, the Chesapeake Retriever was somewhat reluctant to go into the "DOWN" position but, of course, I got him there with the aid of a food lure. It still took some time but I was patient and persistent and soon he got the idea. It was a beautiful thing to see. Sasha, our tiny Yorkie, was a little nervous in class yesterday so we really couldn't get her to do much of anything. I thoroughly explained the exercise to her parents and told them to work on it at home. Amber, the Wheaten Terrier, was a perfect "fitness" model doing her doggie pushups. Amber and Axl had a good romp after class. Axl is still quite the jumper so I spent some time explaining to his dad how to curtail the behavior and I even gave him my written tips, usually reserved for my private clients. I'm truly hoping that he and his family work with Axl to discourage the jumping behavior. He's still a puppy, only about 5 months, and he's more than 60 lbs! As an adult, his jumping will not only be annoying, it could be hazardous to one's well being! Speaking of which, I took quite the graceless fall in class yesterday. Oh the embarrassment of being taken down by a mere 30lb Wheaten. Amber was headed full charge around the yard and careened right into the back of my leg, just below the knee. Well, I went down in a flash, after doing some twisting & contorting to avoid landing on Amber. Anyone who knows me, knows that I'm not exactly a lightweight and landing on a 30lb pup would not bode well for the dog. Well, I successfully avoided landing on Amber and hit the ground like a ton of bricks. Fortunately, it was on the grass and not the concrete. Despite the soft surface, I'm sporting 2 new black & blue bruises today.

On another note, I received a call this week from the director of the Locust Valley Adult Education Program - how very exciting! They were looking for a trainer to conduct a 4-lesson dog obedience course at the high school. Well, of course, I said, "Look no more!" I am very happy to be doing that in October. Much thanks to Dr. Brickman who knows my work and referred them to me.

Anyone who is a patient at New Hyde Park Animal Hospital may know Dr. Brickman by her maiden name, Dr. Hurowitz. She moved on from the NHPAH practice to the Locust Valley Veterinary Clinic and I wish her much success and happiness.

Well, that's all the news in SmartyLand! Of course, don't forget to check our website at http://www.smartypawsny.com/ for information on courses, tips and fun photos. Stay well and have a Happy Fourth!

I dream of a world where every home has a happy dog and every dog has a happy home.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Dog Basic Obedience Group Classes in Nassau County, NY

Smarty Paws Dog Training in New Hyde Park, NY...
Well, I haven't blogged for a while becasue there's really not much to tell. I took a few days off last week and we are between group classes. This Saturday (6/28) @ 9:30am begins the next Basic Obedience course. We have at least 4 confirmed participants and a possible 2 more. I will be closing the class at 6 students. The Wednesday evening group class had a week off last week but met again last night. We had two absences so it was a very small class. Loose Leash Walking & Recall were on the agenda. Axl, the Chesapeake Retriever puppy, is quite the puller and leaper so I did some one-on-one work with him. By the end of the session he was doing much better but, of course, he was also tired. Sasha, the Yorkie, was walking off-leash and doing quite well. Both Sasha and Axl did very well practicing their Recalls in a game of Doggie Ping Pong.

In the land of private clients, Honey, the mini Dachshund, completed her basic obedience course and graduated yesterday. Yay! Daisy, the Berner, has yet to have her final lesson - we just can't seem to coordinate on a date. Maxie, the Standard Poodle, missed his lesson on Tuesday because I wasn't feeling well but, that's ok, his mom & dad will have more time to work on the behaviors we already covered.

That's all the news in Smarty Land! Check our website at http://smartypawsny.com for class schedules, helpful tips and fun photos.


I dream of a world where every home has a happy dog and every dog has a happy home.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Dog Basic Obedience Training Group Classes at Smarty Paws in Long Island

New Hyde Park, NY... Saturday morning's group class at Smarty Paws graduated with flying colors. I was very proud of everyone and everydog in the group. It really was a great group class. Everyone enjoyed seeing each other every week, the dogs were all small so they all played very nicely together and the owners really practiced with their dogs. I'm taking one weekend off and then the next 8-week group class starts on June 28th at 9:30am. I'm still taking registrations for the Saturday moring Basic Obedience Group class. You can visit http://www.smartypawsny.com/ for more information.

Sunday's class went very well with our last lesson being "Leave It". Next week is graduation for the Sunday class and everyone will have to perform for the group. Oh, the pressure! I hope they've been practicing with their dogs! I scheduled another Sunday afternoon Basic Obedience group class to begin on June 29th but I will probably reschedule it to begin mid-late July.

Wednesday evening's class has a week off this week so I can have a much-needed little getaway - yay! Unfortunately, I must leave my monsters home with the house/dog/cat sitters. You gotta love the friends that come to your rescue when you need help with the furkids.

The Tuesday evening Puppy Kindergarten is scheduled to begin July 15th. I have had several people express interest in the class but only one has sent in a deposit so far. If I don't get at least 4 participants, I will have to cancel the class.

Looking forward to a rest this week with only one private client scheduled! I won't be blogging again until next week.

I dream of a world where every home has a happy dog and every dog has a happy home!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

New Dog Obedience Group Classes Start Soon!

Smarty Paws starts a new round of Group Classes at the end of June and middle of July!

Basic Obedience Group Classes:
Saturdays @ 9:30am Starting June 28th
Sundays @ 5:30pm Starting June 29th

Puppy Kindergarten Group Classes:
Thursdays @ 7pm Starting June 26th
Tuesdays @ 7pm Starting July 15th

Check the website for details or to print registration forms!


Dog Obedience Group Classes & Private Lessons

Summer came in this weekend like an angry dragon. We have been experiencing record-high temperatures and the heat wave continues thru today. Looking forward to some relief tomorrow.

Saturday morning's Basic Obedience Group Class took place before the heat became too oppressive. The group learned "Leave It" and really enjoyed the lesson. I just love the "oohs" and "aahs" and general looks of awe when I take a dog that has never even been introduced to the concept of "Leave It" and have him "Leaving It" within minutes. In case they thought it was a fluke, I did it again with another dog. I love that lesson. I think it best demonstrates "Operant Conditioning" to the average person. Every instinct in the dog is screaming to take the treat (that's the hind brain in action) but the dog reasons it out (that's the fore brain in action) and the dog "leaves it" in favor of an earned reward. I probably should start with that lesson instead of closing with it.

I cancelled Sunday's Group Class due to the excessive heat. It's too much for the pooches and the humans don't like it either. Unfortunately, now my Sunday group classes will run an extra weekend - right into the one week I had planned on taking off! Oh well!

My last lesson with Daisy, the Berner, was due to take place last night but that was also cancelled due to heat. It was just too hot for Daisy to be out practicing her Loose Leash Walking.

Today I'll be seeing Honey, the Mini Dach, and Maxie, the Standard Poodle for private lessons. We'll be conducting those lessons indoors for sure!

Mr Berner contacted me and we set up a date to meet next week. He picked up his Berner pup this past weekend. Right now he's faced with the challenge of acclimating his two Maltese to the puppy. I emailed him some tips on how to deal with it and hope he's having success. I'll check in with him in a couple of days.

Well, that's all the news in SmartyLand. Check the website http://www.smartypawsny.com/ for new photos of the Saturday Group Class and other information and tips.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Smarty Paws Dog Training Private Clients in Group Classes

Oh how I love the summer! I am getting lots of calls and emails from new or soon-to-be puppy owners. I just love when people start the pups when they are young. Getting your pup started off on the right "paw" with Positive Training is the best way to build your bond and avoid future problems, not to mention making your life easier.

I received an email from an interested soon-to-be Berner owner. If you read my blog, you know I love the Berners and am seriously considering bringing one into my little pack. Mr. Berner, as I like to call him, wanted references and is really doing his homework checking up on me. Good for him! Don't be afraid to ask for and contact references. Thats the way to do it if you don't know the trainer personally or have a referral from someone you trust. I haven't heard back from Mr. Berner yet but hope to soon.

Daisy, my current Berner, is doing so well with her training. She came to group class on Sunday afternoon and was such an angel. She had fun chasing Mogli, our energetic hound pup, and Brady, my shepherd/lab mix who was also at group class for the first time. I hope to see Daisy in more group classes.

Brady's mom has been understandably nervous about introducing Brady to other dogs. Brady is a bit reactive/aggressive with people due to lack of proper early socialization. Brady's mom adopted him at about 9 months of age from a shelter. I applaud Brady's mom for adopting a shelter dog and her commitment to Brady, despite his issues. We've been working together and he's really improved dramatically. In group class he was happily excited and unfocused but he was completely non-reactive and he had a ball playing with Mogli.

Mogli, the hound puppy, was all excited and just wanted to play. He really loves playing with the larger dogs and completely wore himself out running around with them.

Sasha, our favorite "muttigree" and Mogli's "sister" was somewhat stressed in group class. There were 3 more dogs in the class than is usual and she wanted to meet & greet. Unfortunately, Sasha's mom needs to keep Sasha on a tight leash because she's not always thrilled with male dogs. In this particular class, she was fixated on Brady - I think she wanted to eat him (joking, of course). Shasha's mom had the opportunity to practice working with Sasha under extremely distracting conditions and did a very good job of it.

Brutus, our Rotty Mix, was all excited with the newcomers to class but actually did very well in keeping relatively calm. We let him loose for play during free time, but he just went right over to the 2 children who were visiting with their mom and plopped himself on their feet. He's such a love-bug.

Molly, our little CockerPoo, is usually in the Saturday morning small dogs class but couldn't make it so she came to Sunday's class for a makeup. Well, she was very nervous around the big dogs and just hung around mom. But she enjoyed the attention from the children.

I had a few single-session clients recently...

Two new puppy owners concerned with puppy nipping and potty training. I talked to them about it and gave them my tips. I wish them success and hope they consider formal training.

One mom-to-be contacted me because her Tibetan Terrier barked incessantly at her infant nephew when he was visiting. She did not expect that reaction from her dog and was understandably concerned. So, I went for a behavior modification session on Sunday. Of course, the dog was wonderful with me. I left them with my tips for introducing a new baby into a dog home and instructions to practice what we had done that afternoon. I hope to hear positive feedback from them soon.

Well, that's all the news in Smarty Land! Check our website for information, tips, photos and class schedules - http://www.smartypawsny.com


Smarty Paws Dog Training Group Classes

I've been so busy with private clients and group classes that I've neglected my blogging. Shame on me! So, here's the latest and greatest in Smarty Land...

About New Group Classes:
The Tuesday 7pm Puppy Nursery class has been cancelled. I've completely removed it from the schedule because there is, sadly, no interest in a class for pups under 4 months. This is such a disappointment to me because proper early socialization is so very important for your dog to live up to his full potential as a good pet. Vets are all recommending that no one take their puppy out until after they've had all their shots and, of course, no one dares to do otherwise. I used to be one of those people too but now I know better.

The Thursday 7pm Puppy Kindergarten starting May 29th was rescheduled to start June 26th. We have 2 students registered and still need at least 2 more to keep the class.

Wednesday's 7pm Basic Obedience started on May 28th and tomorrow, June 4th will be our first class with the dogs. We have 5 students and can still take 2-3 more, if you are interested. I'm looking forward to meeting the new bunch tomorrow.

You can check the website for the complete schedule of upcoming classes and course outlines - http://www.smartypawsny.com/

About Current Group Classes:
The Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon Basic Obedience Group Classes currently under way will be wrapping up in 2 weeks. We'll take one weekend off and then start up again the 28th and 29th of June. If you are interested in taking one of those classes, you can print the registration form from the website http://www.smartypawsny.com/ and mail it in with a deposit check.

I've posted some Group Class photos on the website for all to see. Just go to http://www.smartypawsny.com/ and enjoy!


Friday, May 23, 2008

Dog Training Group Classes in New Hyde Park, NY

Current group classes conducted on Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons have been a great success. Encouraged by that success, Smarty Paws added additional classes on weekday evenings!

Smarty Paws offers the following dog training group classes:

Basic Obedience for puppies & dogs 6 months and older - Weds evenings @ 7pm, starts May 28

Puppy Kindergarten for puppies 4-6 months - Thurs evenings @ 7pm, starts May 29

Puppy Nursery for puppies 10-16 weeks - Tues evenings @ 7pm, starts June 3

For more information visit us at: http://www.smartypawsny.com/

Well, it seems that folks are either too busy or just not ready for group classes starting next week. We've had very few registrations and, while we hate to disappoint interested clients, it looks as though we may cancel the classes. But, fear not! We will reschedule and try again for next month! However, we are holding our breath and crossing our fingers that history repeats itself and we have a late rush to register.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Dog Obedience Group Classes at Smarty Paws in Long Island

New Hyde Park, NY... This weekend's group classes at Smarty Paws Dog Training went off without a hitch. All the students (both 2 and 4 legged) are doing really well and improving nicely. In Saturday's class Gizmo continues to be a bit of a tough customer in that he's difficult to motivate. We are still trying to find that one thing that will really get him going. He's such a little cutie we are convinced that he plans to just get by on his looks. Juliette is still commanding her personal space and becomes a little grouchy when the other dogs get too close for her taste. Most of the other dogs don't seem to care all that much - they seem to know her bark is worse than her bite. Molly led the chase during free time and loved every minute of it. Phoebe and Sophie preferred to sit it out with mom on the bench but I said, "No Way!" and sat there instead. Of course, the 3 monsters were right in the thick of things, as usual.

In Sunday's class, Brutus entered sporting a new head collar and seemed pretty comfortable with it. The head collar will help Brutus' mom control her leaping love-bug until proper taining can take hold. Sasha's behavior around male dogs is improving but still needs work. We tried to let her and Brutus off leash for some playtime but had to end it before things turned nasty. Still, she managed a couple of minutes this time. Mogli is adorable and, unfortunately, very much into leaping. Her owners will really need to do their homework on that if they want to see any improvement. Mogli's playmate, Amber, was absent for the 3rd time so, again, she had no one to play with. She tried to play with Brutus but, being a rambunctious puppy, it was more than Brutus could handle. On a positive note, Mogli's training is coming along very nicely.

Visit us at http://www.smartypawsny.com/ for photos, tips and information on training.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Brady's Aggression Counseling

I just had one more aggression counseling session with Brady and his humans. Brady is doing really well and he has improved dramatically. He's come a long way from that barking, snarling, cringing dog I first met a few weeks ago. Of course, Brady and I are best buds now and he's much better with strangers coming into the home. He's really a great dog - full of energy and loves to play! He's quite the good-looking muttigree. He is jet-black and his lab genes are very evident. I'm hoping Brady's mom brings him to group class on Sunday so I can see if he will "play nice" with the other dogs. You can see Brady on the website:



Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Honey's Basic Obedience Training Going Nicely

Yesterday was Honey's second lesson in basic obedience. I showed up and she was on the front porch, excited and waiting. She barked at me a little when I approached but then immediately did a submissive pee. No more big hellos for Honey!

She was readily sitting on command so I know her mom worked with her. We moved on to sitting in the "Heel" position and "Down". She had some trouble with "Down", at first but, of course, I am used to this and soon she had the idea and was going "Down" reliably so I could begin to name it. Her mom did the exercises very well so I left, confident that next week she will be "Heeling" and going "Down" with no problem.

She's just too cute! Right now she's coming when her name is called with no problem at all - in fact she can't get to you fast enough. Working on "Recall" should be a breeze! Of course, I forgot to take her picture yet again. I swear my memory is completely shot! All-in-all my two latest students for basic obedience are bright, eager and sweet tempered. It doesn't get any better than that for a trainer. I just LOVE when owners start them young!

Visit us at: http://www.smartypawsny.com You won't see Honey or Roxy but you'll see some of the others.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Basic Obedience Private Lessons Going Well for Daisy

Daisy, the Bernese Mountain Dog puppy, is doing so well with her obedience training. She is really such a love! Last night we introduced the "Heel" position to Daisy. It only took a few times before she got the idea and began to choose the "Heel" position all on her own. I couldn't have been more proud if she was my own! Next we began "Sit/Stay" and "Down/Stay". She did remarkably well with that too. I am even more seriously considering a Berne for my very own! If she is an accurate representation of the temperament and intelligence of the dogs produced from that particular breeder, then I know I can't go wrong with them. Just gotta talk the hubby into it. lol Good luck with that, Helen!

Happy Tails!

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Basic Obedience Group Classes Going Well

This weekend's group classes went very well, despite some absences. We reviewed "Down" and began working on "Sit/Stay" and "Wait".

Saturday's free time had all the small dogs in a frantic chase around the yard with Lilly as the chasee. Molly was right on her heels along with my own Pebbles. Even Bam Bam moved his butt off the back deck to join in! Phoebe and Sophie preferred to observe from mom's lap. This week Lilly was actually having fun. Her tail was midway up, she was loose and not trembling. She actually instigated the chase. I knew she would come around, I just didn't realize she would come around so fast. Can't wait to see what happens when Gizmo comes back next week!

Sunday's class was small again and everyone had to leave as soon as the lesson was over. Being Mother's Day, that was quited understandable. Mogli is making great progress! Sasha and Brutus are doing well too. I think that Sasha will be more comfortable with Brutus before the course ends.

Tune in next week for the continuing saga!

Happy Tails!

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Friday, May 9, 2008

Avoid Canine Behavior Problems Before They Start!


Bored, under stimulated and under exercised dogs will find much needed ways to expend their energy and fill their time.

Provide your dog with the regular exercise he needs. This is very important in keeping your dog physically healthy as well as emotionally balanced, not to mention the benefits you, too, will receive from regular exercise. Lack of exercise is the number 1 cause of most behavior problems. Regular exercise not only helps prevent behavior problems from developing but also aids in resolving them. Even with access to a yard a dog may not be getting enough exercise. Regular walks, sports and games, like fetch, not only provide the much need outlet to burn off your dog’s excess energy; they are also great ways to bond with your dog.
Many behaviors that are problems to us humans are actually normal dog behaviors that can be redirected and more positively expressed through the use of toys, games, sports and organized activities. The need to chase can be satisfied with fetch, Frisbee, or flyball. Your dog’s need to chew can be satisfied with the use of proper chew toys or Kongs. The need to search can be expressed by hiding toys around the house or yard. Kongs stuffed with treats or peanut butter or liver paste are an especially good choice as they fulfill your dog’s latent instinctual need to search for food and your dog also has to work the food out. Playing a game of “hide-n-seek” with Rover also fulfills his need to search and helps you bond with your pooch. In addition to stuffed Kongs, there are also many interactive puzzle toys on the market that fulfill your dog's need to be occupied and have a job to do, particularly when you are absent. A game can be invented for every natural dog behavior - the only limit is your imagination!
Variation of the environment is also very important in channeling your dog's attention and energies. Choose 3 or 4 different routes and destinations for your daily walks and alternate them in no particular order. In addition to regular daily walks, rotate your dog toys each week, starting with 20-30 toys and swap them in groups of 5-10.
Regular walks, exercise, games and toys will not only help avoid behavior problems it will keep your dog at his physical and mental peak. It will also deepen and create a more harmonious relationship for you and your dog.

Happy Tails!


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Don't Wait Until You Have a Problem With Rover - Start Your Dogs on Training When They are Young!

Most people don't call a dog trainer until they already have a problem. Sometimes they call as soon as they realize they have a problem or the beginning of a problem. More often they call after the dog has been engaging in the behavior for far too long. Usually something unpleasant or even disastrous precipitates the call. Generally, I find that for those dogs, it is too late. NOT because the dog can't change - it's the humans that can't (or won't) change! If they've waited so long to "fix" a behavior, they usually don't have the persistence and patience to adhere to a behavior modification program. Then, I'm caught between a rock and a hard place. If I don't take the case they are upset with me. If I do take the case and they don't adhere to the program, the program fails and they blame me! What's a girl to do?

Best I can do is try to convince everyone I know to start training early and stick to it. Yes, it is a lot of work over the first year of your dog's life, not to mention the ongoing maintenance - let's not forget that. Good training is a lifelong process. Oh, but it is well worth it! You may have your dog for about 15 years - think of how much unpleasantness you will go through in the course of those 15 years if you don't work to train your dog! My monsters are a constant source of pleasure to me because I spent the time to make it so! And, believe me, they are not little robots. I have trained them to be good pets (ok, so they do a few stupid pet tricks too), not to compete in obedience trials, although Bam Bam probably could. That's all I need and all I want and we are all happy.

I also tell people that you don't always have to do "formal" training sessions with your dog. The most successful training programs are ones where the owners have built the training into their everyday life. Life with dogs can and should be wonderful and rewarding, not stressful and annoying. But, as with anything worth having in life, it takes some effort!


Happy Tails!

Honey the Mini Dachshund Starts Obedience Training with a Clicker!

Yesterday afternoon I met Honey, my newest private client, for the first time. She's only 3 months old and just the cutest little thing to waddle up to me on 4 stubby legs! She took to the clicker immediately and I just know she's going to be a fabulous student (then again, they all are!). She loves to sit on her own so "capturing" sit wasn't a problem at all. She performed our little Sit, Release, Return & Sit game beautifully. I can't wait to see her again next week! Maybe then I'll remember to get her picture for the website. Meantime, visit the site for other cool photos: http://www.smartypawsny.com

Happy Tails!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Daisy the Bernese Mt. Dog Puppy

Monday evening and it was time to head over for my private lesson with Daisy. She is so beautiful and, of course, getting bigger every day! We worked on the "DOWN" cue and, although she had some trouble with it at first, she soon got the idea so on we went to doggie push-ups. I had so much fun playing with her after the lesson. She is a big, gentle, affectionate mush! Check the website for her photos - http://www.smartypawsny.com/ Hhhmmm wondering if there may be room in the Del Bove household for a Bernese... I suspect for the hubby it will be a case of "It's me or the dog!" Ha ha - guess who will win! Happy Tails!

Sunday Afternoon Group Class @ Smarty Paws

We were so glad the weather cleared up on Sunday in time for the afternoon class. It turned out to be a beautiful afternoon. The class was good, if small. We had one absence and neither of the 2 Saturday absences showed up for a make up. Our hound puppy, Mogli, had no one to play with after class. She tried to play with Brutus, the big loveable Rotty Mix, but he was only interested in Sasha. Unfortunately, Sasha was having none of it but Brutus wouldn't take no for an answer. So it was this crazy kind of doggie menage a trois where everydog was trying to play with somedog else so no dog played with each other. Brutus and Sasha are adults so they know most of their basic obedience already. Their moms just want to work around distractions and give them a chance to socialize. Mogli is just a pup of 5 months so she's a real student and learning very well. All-in-all a nice class and a nice day. Happy Tails!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Saturday Morning Group Class @ Smarty Paws Dog Training

All went well at the second meeting of group class on Saturday @ 10:30am. We had two absences in class and I'm hoping they can come to the Sunday @4pm class for a make-up. So, we had a smaller group today. Class started a little late - the humans were busy working on their own socialization (lol). I actually got so side-tracked today (shame on me) that I failed to cover a topic (gasp!). That's ok, since it was merely the introduction to SIT/STAY and we are devoting next week's entire class to STAY. Free-time was a blast today with little Gizmo chasing every dog around and generally being top dog. Did I mention Gizmo is about 4lbs soaking wet? Lilly did better with socializing today, at least at first. Then she got spooked and began to hide. I'm not worried about her though, she will improve. Phoebe and Sophie were not as playful today for some reason but they were otherwise just fine. My "monsters" couldn't wait for class to end so they could get out and say hi. I keep them indoors until free-time so they are not a distraction. All-in-all, it was a very pleasant class. I have to try to remember to take photos at the next class! Meantime, there are plenty of other fun photos on the site - http://www.smartypawsny.com/


Friday, May 2, 2008

New Group Classes Starting May & June!

Well, with the weather warming up it's time to get more group dog training classes under way!

We have 2 new classes starting at the end of May:

Basic Obedience - for Puppies & Dogs 6 Months and Older:
Wednesdays @ 7pm, Classes start May 28, Last Class is July 23

Puppy Kindergarten - for Puppies 4-6 Months:
Thursdays @ 7pm, Classes start May 29, Last Class is July 17

Begining in June:

Puppy Nursery - for Puppies 12-16 Weeks
Tuesdays @ 7pm, Classes start June 3, Last Class is June 24

For more information, visit us at: