Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Collaboration in Dog Training

"What sets you apart from the competition?"

It's a question I've been asked numerous times, minimally veiled, and it's one I'm rather uncomfortable answering.

Because the only competition I have is from trainers who put something before you and your dog: ego, money, or even blind adherence to a "philosophy" that shuts down dialogue instead of remaining open to constructive discourse.

Simply put, my competition is your failure because I define my success as an improvement in a dog family's overall quality of life, resulting from increased understanding and mutual respect between your dog and all family members. That means picking the best service, at the most convenient location, at a feasible time...for each and every one of your specific dog training or enrichment needs. If that's ME for every single one of your dog-related activities, then stop reading this and just give me a ring, Mum.

So what makes me who I am as a dog trainer?

I listen. I strive to understand your current thought process, as well as your dog's. I distill what I hear to determine your primary, feasible goals and discuss with you a plan of action, carefully considering all available services, including collaboration or direct referral. This is not what makes me "different". This is the approach that allows all of us to bring you so much more than one person's expert opinion. This is how we leverage the massive knowledge base of generations of progressive, collaborative, ethical dog training providers and scholars.

This is what sets us apart from the competition.
Sunday, July 2, 2017

Four tips for the Fourth of July

This annual celebration of freedom is, unfortunately, the day when most pets go missing. Here are four quick tips you can take to ensure your dog's safety and comfort.

Dog relaxes in muffled crate with music playing and a bully stick tripe KONG Extreme dog toy.

1. Safety First: Secure Your Pets

Make sure that your pet is indoors and secured before opening any exterior door, even to take a peek outside. This can be in the pet's bedroom or in a crate or kennel. Be mindful of open windows, and definitely don't trust your backyard fence or your drunk best friend to contain your dog, no matter how trustworthy they normally are.

2. Muffle with Music

In addition to covering your dog's crate with a sound-dampening moving blanket or acoustic foam, leave the television, radio, or a music track running on a loop so that the blasts aren't as prominent. Tchaikovsky's famous 1812 overture is a favourite around here because it includes volume and texture changes (including cannons) and is heard enough throughout the year that we can be certain it won't provide any startling of its own. Start playing the music while nothing else is going on (i.e. not immediately before or after crating your dog).

3. Freedom Festivity Foods

Pair the festivities with the long-lasting treats your dog loves best. Decrease the difficulty level from what your dog will normally tackle, and consider providing a variety, especially if your dog will be alone for awhile. Some of our favourites:
  • Extra thick, braided bully sticks
  • Frozen KONG toys filled with peanut butter, canned or fresh tripe, tinned sardines, and something stinky sticking out (e.g. bully stick, tripe stick, dehydrated chicken foot)
  • Dinner in puzzle toys or a snuffle mat
  • Himalayan Yak Chews
  • A new Tuffy or other soft toy to destroy

4. The Vet Knows Best

Dogs with genuine anxiety or fear of fireworks may go into a state of panic no matter how pleasant and protected you try to make the environment. Talk to your vet about medication options, as well as a long-term treatment plan to reduce anxiety for subsequent years.

About the Harenbergs

Audrey, Aipa, and Steve Harenberg on the Blue Ridge Mountains

We build strong working relationships between dogs and handlers through the use of modern learning theory and the development of technological aids.

Audrey has been involved with numerous non-profit organisations, as foster mom, therapy dog handler, and obedience instructor. In addition to teaching private lessons, group classes, and in-home training, she's busy creating free blog articles and books to help make progressive dog training accessible to all.

Steve is finishing his PhD in computer science and will be taking over technological development once he is freed from academia.