Take the time this week to check all your dog's equipment for safety, fit, and function. Make sure that collars, harnesses, and leashes are snugly fitted and don't rub or cause irritation, have no frayed or chewed sections, and that all buckles, snaps, and fasteners are intact. Check tags to make sure your contact information is still clearly visible and hasn't rubbed off or become obscured. You need to be able to count on this equipment to keep you and your dog safe in an emergency, so make sure it's up to the task. If you have questions about the appropriateness, fit, or safety of a piece of equipment for your dog, your trainer will be happy to help take a look with you.
This week's Day Training Extra Credit: You probably know that your dog has an impressive sense of smell, but did you know you can leverage that special ability to help your dog develop and maintain behavioral wellness? Dogs soothe themselves by engaging in four main species-appropriate behaviors: chewing, licking, shredding, and sniffing. Our toys and activities often focus on chewing, but scientists have found that helping dogs engage in sniffing behavior can actually increase dogs' optimism! This week, use scent to enrich your dog's life by going on a sniffari, playing scent games, or spraying a toy or towel with diluted coconut, vanilla, ginger or valerian scents (never apply scent directly to a dog.) If you find that your dog thrives on scent enrichment, ask your trainer for more information about the sport of nosework, in which dogs find hidden containers with essential oils. It's one of the most accessible dog sports, where dogs with physical disabilities, blindness, deafness, and reactivity can still play happily and safely!
This week's Day Training Extra Credit:
It's Dog Bite Prevention Week! Did you know that 77% of dog bites are from a family or friend's dog? Since we are most likely to be bitten by dogs we know and love, we are also most able to prevent these bites! Brush up on your knowledge of dog body language and stress signals, stay out of risky situations, and learn to ask for consent both before starting to pet and while petting ALL dogs, even your own love bug! Not only could you prevent a dog bite, but you create a real, two-way conversation about interactions that can form the foundation of a richer, more authentic relationship.
This week's Day Training Extra Credit: You probably know a lot about what treats your dog likes best, but did you know that the treat you choose can impact the success of your training? Scientists have studied how our choice of reinforcers affects training success and found that dogs prefer high value rewards (eg cheese) over a large quantity of lower value rewards and that rotating or varying the rewards you choose can help maintain motivation and interest for training. Even if you have a dog who will eat anything that doesn't eat her first, you can add power to your training sessions by taking these factors into account. Take a look at your treat jar this week- have you gotten stuck in a rut with rewards? Consider adding "human" food to the mix- things like cooked chicken, hot dogs, cheese (in moderation), and diced ham are generally very popular and usually even cheaper than products labeled for dogs! If you have to use kibble because of allergies or dietary restrictions, you can increase its value for your dog by soaking it in broth to make it soft and smellier. If you don't already have a treat pouch to hold all this delicious stuff, now is the time! My favorites are the Doggone Good Rapid Rewards (we carry this in the Noble Beast shop!) and Starmark ProTraining Pouch.