MuzzleUp! Dispelling the Stigma of Muzzles, a Workshop by Maureen Backman

MuzzleUp! Dispelling the Stigma of Muzzles, a Workshop by Maureen Backman

  Imagine a fearful dog gaining confidence and weaving around agility poles while wearing a muzzle. Or a shy dog running toward the muzzle from across the room in order to place her snout in the basket, eagerly anticipating her reward. These aren’t just pipe dreams; training makes them possible for dogs of varied breeds, backgrounds and temperaments. When done the proper way, muzzle training can increase the trust in you and your dog’s relationship. In the world of dog behavior, one of the most essential but misunderstood pieces of safety equipment we have is the muzzle.Dogs wear muzzles for a plethora of reasons.Unfortunately, their appearance and the judgments associated with them prevent their usage, sometimes with tragic consequences. This workshop will cover the how-to’s of muzzle training, including working through common trouble spots, as well as incorporating tricks, games and activities so that dogs feel comfortable and happy wearing a muzzle. We’ll also discuss how to tailor dogs’ muzzle training for specific scenarios like the veterinary office and leash walks. Demo dogs will be present to demonstrate muzzle conditioning, training and usage. WHAT YOU’LL LEARN Dog Owners Learn how to implement a muzzle training plan, troubleshoot tricky spots, and provide muzzle enrichment activities Learn how to be proactive and set your dog up for success, including fear-free vet visits and early intervention for aggression and fear Education on what types of muzzles work best, how to modify for best fit, and how to combat stigma with muzzle art and games Dog Trainers Have an expanded skill set to offer clients Learn ways to incorporate muzzle training into training packages to...
ThunderCaps – Calming an Over-Stimulating World

ThunderCaps – Calming an Over-Stimulating World

In our modern densely-populated and noisy urban society, dogs can often live much of their lives outdoors in a state of high visual stimulation. Surprising encounters at close distances and limited opportunities to escape are part of this picture also. The ThunderCap™ is a tool that can be used to reduce the stimulation of these environments. They can also be helpful in the environmental management program of dogs who have reactivity. Who can they help? Reactivity and stress are common situations that many dogs experience, even more so in cities. For some dogs there may also be a genetic predisposition toward over-arousal with things visually appearing suddenly or moving quickly, such as sight-hounds or herding breeds. For others, anxiety can also contribute to a need for additional space or reduced trigger intensity for successful training to happen. For a reactive dog owners, using a ThunderCap™ can lessen the likelihood of their dog being triggered by these surprising situations. It can be helpful for a person with a larger reactive dog and a smaller car, since putting them in a covered crate to reduce triggering in the car is often not possible. It can also be useful for a person living in a high-rise with their reactive dog, where getting out of and into the building is a bit like “running the gauntlet” past dogs in the environment. Don’t they blind my dog? Having had the opportunity to hold up the ThunderCap™ and walk around looking through it, I would describe the experience as being similar to looking through a thin and dark tee-shirt. Closer objects are more distinct and identifiable and further ones are less clear....
The Misunderstood Muzzle

The Misunderstood Muzzle

Muzzles are some of the most misunderstood, but most important, tools in dog training. It is a way to keep your dog and others around her safe while providing opportunities for training. A muzzled dog is not a bad dog, and may not even be a dog that bites.  However it is a dog whose people are being proactive and safe. Why Use a Muzzle? Muzzles are useful for many different reasons, including: Situations that you just want to be extra-safe. For example, someone who has a very friendly dog who has not been around many children, may choose to use a muzzle just to be safe when introducing the dog to a new child. That way, they can focus on maximizing their dog’s comfort without worrying about an accident Increasing safety during a training or social situation for a dog that has a history of  being aggressive or reactive. See below for more details on this. Preventing people from approaching a dog that needs space. Many of our clients with very cute but shy dogs are thrilled that they don’t need to keep telling people to give their dogs room to feel comfortable. The muzzle does that for them. Using in emergency situations, such as when the dog has had an accident or injury.   Many dogs will bite when in pain and scared, when they wouldn’t bite otherwise. As a recent personal example, I took my dog Jazz to a new veterinary clinic (yes, I am a veterinarian but like many other veterinarians I prefer to have another doctor also evaluate my pets for their wellness visits or...
Front-Clip Harnesses

Front-Clip Harnesses

There are many training tools that help people get better control with their pulling dogs. One that we have recommended to hundreds of our clients is the front-clip harness. Their feedback has predominantly been good. We find that these harnesses are minimally aversive (i.e. unpleasant) for most dogs. While they don’t provide as much control (turning power) as a head halter, most dogs are able to get used to them much faster than head halters, which makes them a great training tool. How they work The purpose of a front clip harness is to provide you with extra control over your dog by making turning their body away from something easier to do. When your dog pulls towards something, the front leash attachment point causes them to pivot around their chest toward you. Different Styles There are a number of different styles of front-clip harnesses available now. We prefer to purchase these from our local pet stores, but many of the “Big Chain” stores carry them as well. Here are a few of the available styles and some of their characteristics: Freedom Harness The Freedom Harness features a back and front attachment point (some believe that this helps to better control the dog) One of our favorite features is the felt-covered strap material around the armpits that protects your dog’s skin Back attachment is a “martingale” style (limited-slip) point Some models include a double-ended leash to attach to the top and front, though these may need to be purchased seperately Fit on these may be a little looser during non-pulling times, increasing comfort, and snugger during pulling to help...