By Lisa Spector, Canine Music Expert, Juilliard Graduate, and co-creator of Through a Dog’s Ear.
In honor of National Train your Dog Month sponsored by the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT), I have been dedicated my January blogs to dog training, specifically positive reinforcement, science-based training. My previous blog included an interview with veterinary behaviorist Ian Dunbar, the founder of APDT and the first trainer to start off-leash puppy and socialization classes with pups starting at 8 weeks of age.
A local business owner, who sees me often with Sanchez, made a passing comment the other day that really got my attention. He said, “You’re always training that dog.” While he didn’t mean it as a criticism, he certainly didn’t intend it to be a compliment, even though I replied with “Thank you.” A better compliment might have been, “You are always building relationship with your dog.” But, I don’t think that’s what he saw.
Sanchez is seven and was bred to be a guide dog. He loves to socialize, work, and keep his mind active. Recently I read that keeping a dog’s brain engaged is the key to a happy, healthy companion. This is very true with Sanchez. His mind is always working and even though he gets a tremendous amount of exercise, it needs to be combined with mental stimulation. I live in a very dog friendly town and he goes almost everywhere with me and loves all the attention he gets. Most locals know him by name. I work with him whenever we are in line at the bank, the hardware store, and when he needs a break from being in a down stay at the Apple Store (where we are both receiving training).
You’ll see in the video that I’m working with him on lifting his right and left paws, one at a time, as he mimics me. And this all takes place at the UPS Store in Half Moon Bay, CA. We are working on incorporating this into a Musical Canine Freestyle routine. One of the things I absolutely love about Canine Freestyle is that we can practice it anywhere, in the midst of various distractions. In the process, he is always learning new tricks that keep his mind stimulated while creating a deeper bond in our relationship. After watching the video, what do you think? Is it a benefit to his life that “we are always training?” Thank you for clicking on comment below and sharing your thoughts.