Training for Confidence


Training for Confidence – In addition to working with dogs, I am a new triathlete. Before a race my anxiety is through the roof…what if I get eaten by a cousin of the Loch Ness Monster? What if I crash my bike trying to avoid a suicidal squirrel? What if I finish dead last and all the pancakes are gone, like the first time? The thing that gets me through these crazy thoughts is the fact I have swam, biked, ran, and done many other things in the past—and I survived.

Socializing your dog works in a similar way. Regardless of age, continually exposing her to new situations in a safe environment is one of the best ways to build her confidence. And confidence is the key to a well socialized dog. A gentle way to begin is to expose your dog to new textures such as grass, tile, pavement, sand, gravel, etc. This allows her to discover new things and learn that something unfamiliar isn’t necessarily scary. If she is hesitant to walk on a new surface, encourage her to take a step or two by luring her with food or her favorite toy. If she is still wary, praise and reward her if she even sniffs the new element, and build from there.

Meeting new people is also a great way to build her socialization. If your dog is a bit shy, begin by introducing her to people who have a positive but calm energy. Although it is fantastic to introduce her to people who are super excited and love dogs, this may overwhelm a shy dog at the beginning of her socialization and reaffirm her fears that people are scary. Once she has become more comfortable with people, she can be introduced to your more energetic dog loving friends.

Speaking of energy, as a pack leader, your energy guides theirs. In a dog’s mind, if a pack leader is anxious, then “I need to be as well”, so be sure to be calm and positive as you are working together on her socialization. Also remember to make this process fun for both of you. Use food or treats, make it a game, have a big payoff (a belly run or playtime) when she deals with a situation successfully. Never punish a dog for being fearful, but encourage her both verbally and with food. A little patience and understanding go a long way in helping your dog become a well-rounded canine citizen.

Every new experience, interaction or item your dog comes into contact with is an opportunity to socialize her. By having a great attitude and training often, you can help her cross the finish line and become a confident, well socialized part of the community.

—Kim P.
Canine behavior coach, behavior advisor, training counselor.

There’s a Trick to Treats!


There’s a Trick to Treats! – One of the best examples of why dogs need supervision at treat time is in “Turner and Hooch”. Tom Hanks leaves Hooch unsupervised in the car for “just a minute” and when he returns, he finds Hooch has snacked on the entire car interior.

Since most of us would prefer our pups not feast on the interior of our Mustang, we need to consider a few things when deciding upon a treat for our canine companion. What are we trying to achieve with the treat… fighting boredom, some dental hygiene, or just a quick reward? Once you know your goal, choosing a treat is much easier.

For fighting boredom and assisting with dental health (even if you brush her teeth), raw/uncooked bones are the way to go. Cooked bones become brittle and are likely splinter, potentially resulting in an unwanted trip to the vet. Raw bones provide calcium and phosphorus, as well as other nutrients. Gnawing on a bone feeds a dog’s need to chew, relieves stress and anxiety, all the while scraping tartar off her teeth making it even better than brushing. Just make sure the bone is large enough that your dog cannot get the entire thing in her mouth and make sure to supervise your dog whenever she has one.

For something a little less intense, bully sticks or woof stix are tasty, easy to chew treats and are highly digestible. They come in different thicknesses, sizes and shapes to accommodate any dog. Jerky treats made exclusively for pets are even easier to chew and are wonderful for less intense chewers. Never give your pup jerky made for humans, as it may contain ingredients harmful to your dog. Bully sticks and jerky also can provide dental health benefits.

If you are looking for a quick and easy treat to reward your pup for being awesome, meat rolls and soft treats are just the thing. Although great for any dog, these treats can be perfect for seniors or dogs with dental issues. To add a bit of mental stimulation for your pup, place them into treat dispensing toys or hide them around the house.

Regardless of your goal, make sure your treats are as healthy and natural as possible. You want to avoid chemical preservatives such as BHA/BHT, artificial sweeteners, soy, and corn to name a few. Look for real products you can identify and pronounce, such as turkey, mixed tocopherols (Vitamin E based preservative), or rosemary. Products made in the USA are also a bonus.

With a bit of thought and planning, treat time can be fun and healthy for our critters and ourselves…and help us avoid a Hooch style chewing disaster.

—Kim P.
Canine behavior coach, behavior advisor, training counselor.

Counter Surf’s Up… But Not For Long!


When you turn your back in the kitchen, does your dog hang 10 on your kitchen counters, surfing for any tasty morsel he can find? Although your dog may dig counter surfing, most of us prefer they keep all four on the floor.

Dogs counter surf because more often than not, the payoff is big. Not only do they stumble upon delicious forbidden treats such as some stray birthday cake, your toddler’s leftover waffle, or maybe even that lovely ribeye you were just about to throw on the grill, but they also get all kinds of attention when you scream and chase them off.

The first wave of defense in the counter surfing counter attack is obvious, keep counters free of anything that could be considered interesting to your surfer boy. Putting food in the fridge, pantry, or at least in an airtight container, takes away the reward of catching the big wave. But let’s face it, this isn’t always practical, especially with kids (or spouses) in the house.

When prevention doesn’t work, the second wave is deterrence. Create some surprise noise makers by adding several pennies to a beverage can and sealing the opening with sturdy tape. Line the noise makers along the counter’s edge so your surfer will get a loud surprise (aka correction) as they knock a few down while surfing forbidden territory. Most dogs are startled by this type of noise and will quickly find something else to do that does not involve countertops with clanging cans. You can also try using double sided or packing tape with the sticky side facing upwards, so when paws attempt to catch the big wave, they come away with tape unpleasantly stuck to their feet (think of the feeling of gum on the bottom of your shoe…yuck!).

There are several great things about these deterrents. Neither are harmful, they work whether you are in the room or not (quite helpful for the stealthy or midnight surfers), and they shift the surfing experience from fun and rewarding, to distasteful and unpleasant.

With a little prevention, patience, and perseverance, you can teach your counter surfer to save his rad moves for the open water.

—Kim P.
Canine behavior coach, behavior advisor, training counselor.

Oh Baby! – Welcoming a New Human to the Pack


Oh Baby! I can speak from personal experience that life as an only child is pretty fantastic. Undivided attention from your parents, the occasional dessert for dinner, perhaps a few less rules, and no one ruining your favorite concert shirt…what’s not to love?! Then the unthinkable happens when, without your consent, a new pack member is added and everything changes.

There are a few steps you can take to ease your dog’s transition from only child to big sister. Think about what is going to change for her, besides a tiny 8 lb human alarm clock going off at 2 am. Will she still sleep in bed with you, stay in your room, or will her sleeping area change completely? How much attention is going to shift away from her? Will she still get her daily walk in the woods or dog park time?

To assist your dog in preparing for the big arrival, use her keen sense of smell to your advantage. Decide upon some products you will be using for the baby, such as soap or shampoo, and begin using them before the baby’s arrival. This lets your dog become familiar with the scent, helping her recognize the baby as part of her pack.

Chances are the newest addition will be sleeping in your room. If you are planning to move your dog out of your bed or out of the room entirely, start that transition well before the baby arrives. Make sure the new area is comfortable as possible. Include a blanket or piece of clothing you have slept with, so she still has your scent as she drifts off to dreamland.

When in the hospital after delivery, wear a t-shirt or hoodie while holding the baby, then bring it home so your dog can start getting to know the baby’s scent before his actual appearance.

Remember love is like sunshine, sharing it doesn’t mean you get less. Although you may be inclined to shower your dog with as much attention and play time as possible, “making up” for what she will be missing after the baby’s arrival, you actually want to do the opposite. Slowly decrease the amount of playtime beginning about a month before the baby’s anticipated arrival. This way she doesn’t have to go “cold turkey” when her little brother shows up.

With a few minor preparations, your dog will easily adjust to her new role as big sister. In fact she may enjoy it even more than being an only child, just like I did…well I mostly did.

—Kim P.
Canine behavior coach, behavior advisor, training counselor.

Game On – Building A Strong Relationship with Your Dog


Game on – You can’t play Jenga with your dog. But you can teach him to fetch the pieces when they fall. Building a relationship with your dog can be more challenging, but also far more rewarding (and less precarious) than a game of Jenga.

Regardless of the species involved, trust is the base of any good relationship. For your dog, nothing builds trust like consistency. It can be very confusing for him if sometimes he’s allowed to jump on you — such as when you are doing yard work — and sometimes he’s not — such as when you are dressed for a wedding. Although smart creatures, dogs have no discernable fashion sense so they don’t realize you are wearing your “good clothes”.

Positive reinforcement training helps strengthen the bond between the two of you because you are stimulating his mind while spending time with him. Training helps him trust you because he learns what behaviors are consistently expected. Well-trained dogs are also allowed more freedom and time with their pack. If you know he won’t jump on Aunt Martha, knock over your 3 year old like she’s a bowling pin, or steal the turkey off the Thanksgiving table, you are more likely to allow him to be out when company visits.

Exercising both his body and his brain aid in deepening your relationship. A tired dog is a happy dog! Time spent walking together, not only allows him to experience new smells, and see new things, but also burns off some energy. Playing hide and seek, fetch, or doing puppy push-ups (sit, down, sit, repeat), incorporate physical and mental exercise by reinforcing commands (sit, stay, etc) during fun activities. This kind of training tends to be more productive because we think it’s more fun and transmit that positive energy to them.

Research shows physical touch increase the bond not just between people, but between animals too. Giving your dog a scratch behind the ears or a good belly rub throughout the day reinforces he’s an important part of the pack. Snuggling in together and binge watching an entire season of “The Dog Whisperer” isn’t being lazy, it’s relationship building!

Through stacking the blocks of training, exercise, and attention, you and your dog can build an awesome relationship, but he still won’t be a good Jenga player.

Kim P.
Canine behavior coach, behavior advisor, training counselor.

When I was eight, I threw treats so my Alaskan Malamute would pull my sled like the Iditarod dogs I saw on TV. Unknowingly, I also was throwing myself into an awesome lifetime adventure of helping people and animals improve their relationships. I’ve worked with businesses, individuals, and local rescue organizations, teaching private lessons, group classes and seminars, as well as private behavior consultations.

Currently I am lucky enough to share my life with Fia, aka The Chalupa, a fabulous rescued mixed breed.

Is your dog a bad dog intentionally?

Article written by: Elly Price, Right on Track K9 Training

Dogs are not bad, well at least not from their prospective. Dogs are opportunists and they will do whatever works for them at the time and that is self-rewarding. This then becomes a learned behavior. So every time they steal food from the counter-top, they reward themselves and they’ll just keep doing it! When a dog barks and you shout out “STOP IT”, your K9 thinks that you are merely chiming along with them… so in turn they will just keep going or get worst because they think STOP IT! Means keep going.

The great thing about our dogs is they can be taught very quickly. Corrections are very easily achieved. Presented with the right techniques along with positive reinforcement, they will actually love to learn. It becomes a game for them. Training your dog for a half hour a day, in 5-minute increments, can have a huge impact on you and your dog’s relationship—it will create a closer bond between you and your dog, as well as, a harmonious family life. The key is to stay consistent. (Never scold or physically punish your dog for getting it wrong).

Elly Price is the Owner/Operator of Right on Track K9 Training, LLC. Elly began her career as a K9 handler by training, then certifying in Human Remains Recovery, Trailing, and K9 Obedience.

Learn more about Elly and Right on Track K9 Training at:

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The “Back Yard Dog”

“Back Yard Dog” – Article written by: Elly Price, Right on Track K9 Training

Most people don’t realize that leaving a dog alone or unattended in a yard for long periods of time or sometimes even short periods can lead to unwanted behavioral problems.

Over the last several years, during training, a common question people will ask me is, “why doesn’t my dog pay attention to me when I give him a command?” Usually through our conversation I will learn that their dog’s daily routine includes being left alone in their yard for long periods of time.

Dogs are naturally pack animals that would normally have a place within their pack, which will determine certain behaviors and give them a kind of fulfillment. A dog that is left on his own without certain needs being met by other pack members will learn to fulfill these needs on his own. So, if you find yourself wondering why your dog is constantly barking, digging, howling, charging the fence, or displaying other unwanted behaviors, it is most likely something trainers call, “self rewarding” behavior. Basically, they are trying to find ways to deal with pent up energy or stress anxiety.

RightOnTrackK9TrainingAgain, dogs are pack animals that have a need to feel they belong to a group, which in the absence of other dogs becomes their human owner. Dogs need to have their human owner’s companionship and humans need to provide their dog with structure. Without this relationship a dog will learn to become independent. They can also become anxious and stressed, which in turn can lead to their becoming aggressive and less responsive to your commands.

A “back yard dog” is sometimes difficult to train because the bond that is created when a human interacts with their dog is missing. Outside of spending down time with your dog you need to interact with your dog through playtime, like a game of “fetch”, or taking daily walks together. This interaction will make your dog feel he has a place within your pack and will cause him to be more responsive to your commands.

Of course there are other factors that play a part in good leadership, but that is a topic for another day.

To learn more about dog obedience training please visit the experts at: