It's Back to School time!

Its back to school time!

With the craziness of back to school, sometimes our furry family member can go a little unnoticed.  When routines change, and less time is spent with our dogs, we sometimes see behavior changes in attempt to get your attention. These behavior changes usually aren’t for the better!

What can I do to help my dog adjust?

It’s important you take time out of your busy day to spend a little one on one time with your dog. A couple quick 5 minute training sessions daily can make a significant impact on your dog. Mental stimulation is a very important part of your dog’s mental health. A nice walk after work can also help you both unwind, allowing your dog to expel some of the physical energy. 

We’re gone for so many hours during the day, what can he do to keep busy while we’re gone?

There are several things you can do to help keep your dogs occupied while you’re gone during the day. Leaving a radio playing will help keep them from listening to things going on outside, and help them rest a little easier all day.  Crate games are things that keep them mentally stimulated by themselves, such as a frozen kong stuffed with peanut butter.  

He usually likes those things, but I don’t always fee like it’s enough.

Have you ever considered doggy daycare?  Sometimes a visit once or twice weekly can really help your dog get the physical energy out. You can also enroll in an obedience class for a little extra mental and physical stimulation for both you and your pup! If you need more help with misbehaviors at home, please feel free to contact us at 248-733-3776 to schedule your consultation. We service Royal Oak, MI and surrounding areas, as well as Fenton, MI and surrounding areas. 

When will my dog be trained?

When will my dog be trained?

This is a question that we're asked regularly, and it can be a very open ended answer. There is no real answer to this question. Ask yourself this, when will you know everything there is to know in school? Or at your job? Or in your hobby? Right, the answer is probably never. Not if you want to continue improving yourself, and your performance in your school/job/hobby. The same goes for dogs.  Training is never over.

So my dog will never be trained?

The answer to that question depends on the goals you set for yourself. We always encourage clients to set realistic expectations for their family and their dog. If you start training with your dog, and he's highly dog aggressive, what are your goals? The typical answer we hear is, "We want him to be friendly and play at the dog park!"  Wrong. That will never be your dog. Not all dogs like other dogs, and that's ok. But setting that as a goal for yourself and your dog, will only lead you to disappointment, and overall let down. Because that's not a realistic expectation.  Set your goals small, so you can work together to have several small achievements as you travel on your journey.  Learn to love your dog, regardless of your battle. And keep working together to improve, because when you're at the bottom, the only way to go is up!

How will I keep track of small achievements?

We always recommend you write down on paper, the problems you have with your dog when you begin training. This will help you remember where you started, because trust me, once you make progress its easy to forget where you came from. Once you've started to see progress, write it down. You can even set weekly goals for your dog, so you know when you reach them, and what your weaknesses are. It's much easier to take that to the trainer so they know what areas to help you! But most of all, it will help you reflect on your journey together with your dog, so you can be more impressed with your progress and keep up your confidence. 

What's the most frustrating thing you experience as a dog trainer?

The most frustrating thing we experience as dog trainers, is the owner not following our recommendations.  We paint a picture for ourselves of making recommendations, a client following our plan, and the owner and dog trot off into the sunset together, the happiest they've ever been!  Unfortunately, it rarely happens that way.  Life happens. People are tired after work. They had unexpected family matters come up. We've heard it all, folks.  The most frustrating thing we experience, is arriving at a home with our own expectations of the progress made since the previous lesson, to find out the owner hasn't done their homework.  It's impossible for us collectively, to reach any goal if the owner isn't putting in the work. The analogy we like to use most, is the comparison of hiring a personal trainer for yourself to get in shape. You can research and find the most expensive, hollywood worthy personal trainer, and pay a small fortune to hire them. But if you don't follow their diet and exercise recommendations, you're not going to be in any better shape than you were at the last lesson with them. So do everyone a favor, and do your homework!

What if I follow the trainer recommendations, but I'm not making progress?

The most important thing you can do, is let your trainer know. If the trainer doesn't know there's a problem, they can't help you fix it. Training is not "one size fits all", and sometimes different things may need to be tried to achieve the desired behavior. Training is also not a "quick fix".  Sometimes you may not be seeing results because you simply haven't given yourself enough time. Sometimes behaviors can be learned in a few short sessions, but when behavior modification is involved, it can sometimes take several weeks to months to see a change in behavior patterns. Don't get discouraged! Keep in communication with your trainer, don't get frustrated, and just remember that you and your dog are doing the best you can!

If you need training for your dog, or just want to talk with us about what's going on, give us a call! We service most of Genesee County, Livingston County, and Oakland County, MI.  Call us at 248-733-3776.  We can help with all ages, behaviors, and breeds. It's never too late to get started on fixing a problem behavior. 

Dock Diving with your dog

Cabin Fever?

We’ve had a couple nice days recently, which may have your dogs fooled, but we know better. It’s only February, we still have several weeks of winter.  This may be reeking havoc on your dog’s mental health! All you know is they need to get out, but you’re not sure where to take them. We may have an answer: go dock diving!

What is dock diving?

Dock diving is the premier sport of canine aquatics! If your dog likes the water, this sport is for you. There are several disciplines in this sport that your dog can run, jump, and splash into for a good time!  In the Big Air discipline of DockDogs, dogs are judged based on how far they jump into the pool from the end of the dock to the base of their tail.  This makes it fair for the little poodles that are jumping against the big labradors. 

My dog loves the water, could he do this?

Of course!  There are techniques that can be taught and learned in this sport, but the beauty of the game, is that any dog that loves water can come compete with little to no training.  As long as your dog jumps in without being pushed and is 6 months or older, he can compete at any competition.  

How can I get involved?

Michigan DockDogs is actively looking for new members to join their club!  If you’re looking for likeminded dog owners to spend time with, we encourage you to join. You’ll be included in club practices, events, BBQs, banquets, and more.  Joining the club is a great way to have year round mental and physical stimulation for your dog by practicing and competing in this family friendly sport. Practices are held throughout mid-Michigan at various locations. In the cold weather months, practices are held indoors at TNT Canine Swim Center in Midland, MI at their heated pool.  In summer months, practices are held outdoors at lakes and ponds, as well as Bark About in Shelby Township.  

When is the next event?

Michigan DockDogs is hosting their First Ever Fun Jump at TNT Canine Swim Center in Midland, MI on March 19th, 2017.  This event is open to the public to watch or try for the first time. Save by pre-registering for the event at www.dockdogsevents.com, or register onsite for convenience.  For more information on the event, please visit Michigan DockDog’s website at www.MichiganDockDogs.com, and click on the events page to direct you to the Fun Jump. 

What should I bring to an event?

You’ll want to bring snacks and water for you and your dog. A kennel for your dog to relax, and and a chair for you to sit in will be helpful for downtime.  Your dog will need something to retrieve from the pool, you can throw anything that floats, isn’t edible, doesn’t dissolve, and has never been alive. You’ll probably also want to bring something to dry your dog off, and dry clothes for you as well!  This sport is a lot of fun, but you’ll probably get wet!

Keeping your dog's mind healthy during cold weather months

A mentally exercised dog is a happy dog.

We all have an idea of the needs of physical exercise for the dog we’ve brought into our home. What we may not have put much consideration into, is mental exercise, or even physical exercise during the winter months!

As we know, some breeds don’t mind playing in the snow for extended periods, but many breeds get cold easily and lose interest in the outdoors on a cold winter day.  Some dog owners are also not aware of mental exercise needs of their dog.  Think about it like this: if all we did as humans was acted all day, without thinking, how far with that get us? We would get bored, and possibly get ourselves into trouble! Sound like a familiar situation at home?

What does mental exercise mean?

To start, let’s talk about mental exercise, what is that anyway? Mental exercise is making your dog think. In their natural habitat, a dog would have to constantly be thinking and problem solving for survival. Many of our dog’s natural instincts include what we consider to be nuisance behaviors such as digging, pacing, barking, chasing, biting, and being destructive. Being able to filter these instincts into energy level appropriate games will keep your dog physically and mentally healthy.

My dog gets plenty of exercise, he runs around the yard all day.

Would running laps around your house be adequate physical exercise for you? Dogs need to get out and explore to get the proper stimulation they need.  Taking walks in public places, going to the park, and taking car rides are all ways your dog can get some of the stimulation he needs. However, that’s still not typically enough for most dogs. Especially in the cold weather months, its not always easy to take your dog out if it’s too cold for you both!

My dog sits before he eats, is that adequate mental exercise?

That’s a great start!  Asking your dog to perform tasks for reward in your day to day life is a great way to make your dog think.  We call it “train as you live”. Rather than allowing your dog to act impulsively on everything he does, make him think before he acts.  This is not an easy task for most pet owners, especially dogs that are high energy or have a habit of doing things their way.  Asking your dog to do simple things such as sit before he gets what he wants will help your dog’s mental health longterm.  Ask him to sit before he gets anything he wants, such as going through doorways, going in and out of his kennel, getting a pet, getting on the furniture, getting in the car, etc. This will teach him to look to you for permission, rather than acting impulsively on what he wants to do. Reward does not always mean treat, either.  Reward is giving the dog something they value.  In this circumstance, the reward would be getting the pet, going through the door, or hopping on the couch. 

Other types of mental exercise would be stationary games for dogs to play.  There are hundreds of YouTube videos that show you different games you can make at home to occupy your dog mentally when you’re busy or away.  For example, putting a muffin tray in a box, putting kibble in the pan, then putting tennis balls over the holes. This makes the dog figure out how to move the tennis balls to get the food underneath. That’s a beginner game to play, and once your dog figures that game out, there are tons of other games you can create for your dog while you’re away!

I don’t have a lot of extra time to exercise him in the winter, what are some ways I can do physical and mental exercise together?

Some of the most effective methods of properly stimulating your dog would be activities that combined physical and mental exercise.  Anything that will make them think and physically move at the same time. A great toy you can make at home is called a flirt pole. With a narrow PVC pipe, a piece of rope through it, and a toy tied to the end, this “giant cat toy” for dogs is a great way to eliminate some of those natural instincts, while exhausting them physically and mentally.  Another great exercise is teaching your dog how to walk on the treadmill.  It takes a lot of thinking to keep themselves on the moving belt, and is a great way for them to walk or run for miles without ever leaving your livingroom!

A physically and mentally healthy dog is a happy dog.  Keep up the good work with your dog year round, and let us know if you need more ideas for physical and mental exercise! We offer training for all ages, breeds, and behaviors. Servicing Oakland County, Livingston County, and Genesee County, MI.  

October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month!

We're thinking about adopting a dog, what's the first thing we should know?

First and foremost, everyone in the family needs to be on board and committed to adding a new family member.  Adopting a new dog is a big responsibility, and everyone needs to do their part. Everyone should sit down and discuss responsibilities for each member of the family so everyone is clear what their job is pertaining to the new dog.

We've agreed on adopting a dog, what kind of dog should we get?

Most people make a decision based on looks.  Before you starting looking for a dog to adopt, you should research the breed(s) you're interested in to make sure it'll be a proper fit for your home.  Make sure you ask yourself a few of these questions when looking at different breeds:

-Energy level: what energy level are you capable of living with? Understand the difference in physical stimulation and mental stimulation, and how much a certain breed will need on average. 

-Training commitment: how much of a training commitment you're prepared to make? This goes along with energy level! A higher energy dog will require more stimulation, which training falls into the "mental stimulation" category. 

-Personality: what type of companion are you looking for? Think about long term, would a more independent personality or a "ride or die" buddy fit your lifestyle?

-Medical care: have you looked into pet insurance? Certain breeds are more prone to health problems. Make sure you're prepared for acute/emergency care, as well as long term/chronic problems that a dog may suffer from. A small monthly insurance payment on your pet may prevent you from major expenses from illness or injury down the line.

-Finally, ask yourself what is a realistic expectation of adding this dog to your life? Is this a graduation present for a senior that's going to college next year? Are you planning to have children in the next 5-10 years? A dog is a 10-15 year commitment, make sure you've asked yourself all these questions!

We know the type of dog we're interested in, where do I find one?

We recommend you start by looking at local shelters and rescues near you.  Keep in mind, there are small rescue groups that do not have a facility, but survive solely on foster homes. You can find shelters and rescues by searching on the internet, or visiting your local pet store. You can see when adoption events are scheduled at local pet stores, which typically take place on weekends.  You can also search the internet for breed specific rescue groups, although some travel may be necessary to meet the dog you're interested in adopting. There are also many big shelters locally where you can go see several dogs at once, taking them out one at a time to play with them.  

What do I look for at the shelter?

There are several behaviors a dog might exhibit at a shelter.  If the dog is hiding in the back of the kennel with "sad eyes", chances are you will need to spend a lot of time establishing a relationship and building trust to help him overcome his nervous tendencies.  If the dog is jumping on the door, barking and clawing, he'll likely need to work with a trainer to build self control and learn how to have an appropriate outlet for his energy. If the dog approaches the kennel door with a calm manner, you're more likely to have a middle of the road dog. 

What can I expect with a rescue group?

Most rescues have foster programs, where the dogs live in a home with a family until finding their forever home. The fosters of these dogs may have a better history of expected behavior of their adoptable dogs, since the dog has had a chance to get more comfortable and show its true colors. They can tell you about the dog's strengths and weaknesses, and what it's like to live with the dog. 

I found my perfect dog, what's next?

We're glad you've chosen a rescue dog to adopt!  Make sure you meet qualifications for the certain rescue or shelter you're adopting from; some require things such as a training class be attended or a fenced yard at your home. If you have another dog at home, you should allow the dogs to meet on neutral ground, such as a park, before bringing your new dog home.  Take a trip to the pet store and obtain all the essentials for your new dog, such as a kennel, a high quality dog food, a bed, toys to keep him busy, and an adjustable collar and leash to walk him.  Also consider looking for a dog trainer to work with you if you have concerns about integration with another animal, or if you have questions about adequate mental and physical stimulation. Einstein Dog Training can help with basic and advanced needs, please contact us at 248-733-3776 to schedule your consultation!

Board and Train Goldendoodle, "Percy"

Percy is a 7 month old golden doodle that came to us for basic training.  He was nervous, actually more like terrified, of things.  Not of people or noises, but of things such as car rides, stairs, doorways - you know, the things that usually excite most dogs.  

His owner started with private lessons.  After just one lesson she knew that this was a little tougher than she was prepared to fix.  So she decided to send Percy to our Boarding School doggy bootcamp program, where he would board and train for 10 days.  

Percy's first few days was a little rough for him.  When he was afraid, he would freeze and become stiff.  He wouldn't move his legs, his head, nothing.  Just freeze.  So we started by building a relationship with him, and working on some basics like coming when called and sit/stay.  Once we gained some ground with the basics, it was time to start working on the fear.

Our first major breakthrough for Percy, was coming through our side screen door onto the landing that went to the basement steps.  We were able to successfully get him through the door, and up and down the stairs.  Our next breakthrough came with getting him to place on a large patio chair, and turn around to jump off.  Then it was getting into his kennel and turning around.  The confidence just starting boiling over with this guy in all aspects!  All of a sudden he turned into a normal dog!  We knew it was in there, we just had to help him work through his paralyzing fear, and learn that these things were fun and not scary!  

Percy went home yesterday, and his mom brought him to his first group class last night.  They did amazing!  He walked in strutting like he owned the place!  Results like these are why we do what we do!

Board and Train Catahoula Leopard Dog - Royal Oak, MI

This is “Coco”, a 5 year old Catahoula Leopard Dog that came to us for separation anxiety and aggression with other dogs.  Coco spent 20 days with us in our Immersion Boarding School program, to help work through his problems.

During Coco’s stay, we had a lot of ups and downs with his anxiety.  We were able to get him to stay in his kennel without destroying anything in it, break out, or bark continuously.  We worked immensely on self control for many reasons, mainly including his anxiety and his dog aggression.  We were also able to get Coco integrated with our pack, and around many other dogs without aggressive outbursts. 

One of the most difficult things we help clients with is separation anxiety.  The reason it’s so difficult, is because it’s hard to train your dog when you’re not there.  Coco went home with a full list of activities and drills for his owner to work on while she is home, and guidelines for her to follow when she was not home.  

Since his return home, Coco has made major improvements with his anxiety in his kennel, as well as his self control around other dogs. He still has a long road in front of him, but he’s off to a great start!

If you’re dealing with separation anxiety at home, you’re not alone.  It’s one of the most common behaviors we work with in our program, and we can help.  Please contact us for a free consultation to discuss training options for your dog. Serving Royal Oak MI, Troy MI, Birmingham MI, and surrounding.

Board and Train Lab X with Separation Anxiety - Rochester Hills, MI

Meet Bentley, a 2 year old Lab mix that is spending the holidays with us for a 12 day Jumpstart Boarding School program.  Bentley has a pretty severe case of separation anxiety.  He will break out of any kennel he’s in, then destroy anything keeping him from his owners - walls, doors, trim, etc. Bentley chewed through the wall at the owner’s front door, and destroyed the wiring to the doorbell.  He has a pretty serious case of separation anxiety!

During Bentley’s stay we put a ton of self control work into him.  Spent hours every day working on getting him comfortable with his kennel.  We worked on him being in his kennel with people home, in his kennel with the door open, as well as establishing a solid foundation of obedience and off leash training.  We had several successful attempts at leaving him for short periods, 30-90 minute intervals.  We set up a “nanny cam” to watch him, and we experienced no whining, no barking, and definitely no breaking out!

Bentley will experience a transition period when returning home into the same home he’s used to breaking out of his kennel at.  He will be spending some time during the day at doggy daycare, and working on in kennel relaxation when his family is home during the evenings and weekends.  We are working towards Bentley staying at home for longer periods, to eventually all day while his owners are at work.

One of the things I like to tell clients when dealing with this type of behavior, is the following analogy: if a child is so afraid of the dark, that he screams and screams when the lights go out, and you tell him to stop screaming or he’ll be in trouble, he may stop screaming.  It does not mean he’s no longer afraid of the dark, he just doesn’t want to be in trouble.  You still have to work through the actual fear.  When dealing with separation anxiety that leads to destructive behavior, the first thing we have to do is stop our dogs form breaking out and hurting themselves or destroying the house.  But it’s equally important for us to fix the way our dog is feeling, it’s not fair for them to be afraid every day.

If you’re experiencing separation anxiety or destructive behavior, please feel free to contact us to schedule your free consultation.  Serving Rochester Hills MI, Troy MI, Birmingham MI and surrounding.