Shelters can be a stressful environment for dogs. Fortunately, there are simple, low-cost enrichment activities that can be implemented to provide comfort, reduce stress-induced behaviors, increase confidence, and promote adoptability. Enrichment can also be used to teach shelter dogs how to interact with their environments in a way that delivers a positive outcome. One easy way to provide enrichment is with shaping, the process of gradually teaching an animal a new action or behavior by clicking and treating the animal during each step of the process.
Bringing a new cat into a home with other cats? Let’s face it: cats are territorial, so you will want to be sure to introduce your cats slowly to minimize fearful or aggressive interactions. In the beginning, you will want to confine the new cat to a separate room to encourage them to get used to one another’s scent. Eventually, you will be able to progress to a controlled face-to-face meeting, allowing visual contact through a barrier, such as a pet gate, baby gate, or screen door. But how do you progress to visual contact while avoiding a stare down or confrontation? Try training!
Training your dog is not only essential for teaching life skills and avoiding problem behaviors, but it also offers an opportunity for you and your dog to have fun together! In this video, KPA CTP Kristen Lee is teaching her dog Jenna to “tell her a secret.” Kristen trains this behavior by teaching Jenna to nose-target her ear.
Multiple International Freestyle Champion Michele Pouliot frequently dazzles crowds with her Head-Tuck Bow routine. In this video, Michele shows you how you can teach this behavior easily at home using raised platforms. The platforms help to keep the dog’s front and rear legs stationary while Michele uses strategic reward placement to encourage a head tuck. Once the head tuck is established, she begins to separate the platforms to increase the distance between the dog’s front and back paws. As the dog becomes comfortable with this new position, Michele extends the treat behind the dog’s front paws, slowly building duration until the dog achieves a full head tuck bow!
Training puppies? Consider incorporating a stationing platform into your training plan! A stationing platform provides many benefits. It not only serves as a designated and safe space for training, but it exposes puppies to novel surfaces, keeps puppies focused (the puppies will know that it’s training time), and helps you observe and manage behavior. Platforms also help you manipulate body position more precisely so that core skills can be learned more quickly, a powerful advantage for dog sports. You will be amazed to see the many ways that you can use a platform!
As trainers, we need to be able to depend on our dogs’ ability to respond to the correct verbal cue and not to other stimuli. Verbal cue discrimination training is an important skill; it ensures that your dog responds only to the correct verbal cue and not to other words. It is particularly useful in dog sports, such as canine freestyle, where many verbal cues are given and the dog must differentiate between them.
For many animals, cold winter climates, the pandemic, or recovering from an injury often results in less exercise outdoors, leading to stress, anxiety, and depression (just as it does for humans!) Fortunately, you can still provide plenty of exercise for your animals with games and activities you can do inside your home—no matter the species!
Teaching your dog to heel is not only easy and fun, but it helps encourage your dog to love walking beside you. The heel position is an essential skill for obedience competitions, heelwork to music (canine freestyle), and rally. In this video, KPA CTP Michelle Wieser and her dog Tipper demonstrate how to teach the heel position using hand targeting.
Teaching your dog to spin is a fun and easy way to start teaching basic tricks. The spin behavior can serve as a solid foundation for advanced tricks. This video by KPA CTP Sabine Johnson shows Codi learning to follow a target to shape a spin.
Even if your dog is the sweetest dog in the world, there may be a situation where s/he needs to wear a muzzle. For example, in the current pandemic many veterinary offices use muzzles as a precaution when they examine dogs without their guardians present. Why not be prepared for this or any other situation requiring a muzzle by teaching your dog to wear a muzzle now?