Equipaws Goes to Catch Canine Training Academy
Our social media specialist and dog walker Kristen Cortese just completed the Catch Canine Trainers Academy taught by Dee Hoult, CEO of Applause Your Paws Dog Training and one of only 250 Certified Dog Behavior Consultants in the world. We sponsored Kristen for this week-long intensive dog training as part of our overall mission to improve the quality of our clients’ dogs’ lives. We spend a lot of time one-on-one with your pups- our walks are a perfect opportunity to reinforce their training. Kristen just completed training with the best so she can in turn work with our own dog walkers on maintaining great behaviors and walking habits for your pups!
Anatomy of Dog Training
The week-long, hands-on training happened from January 23-37, eight hours a day at Miami-Dade Animal Services. The group learning alongside Kristen was small, which gave them even more time with Dee to learn tools on how to teach dogs basic behaviors such as heel, sit, lie down, go to their place etc., and some tools on how to break a dog of certain behaviors such as leash pulling. The workshop included a lot of work with adult dogs, whom they taught how to sit, stay, heel, lie down, and to go to their place.
The training also covered how to get a dog’s focus back when you’re training, as dogs can get very distracted. Dog training is a very interesting calling that is a lot more difficult and time-intensive than it looks. A few things a trainer must do include:
- Clicking and rewarding at the proper time, establishing a system of marking the behavior and rewarding. transition from first luring a dog into doing something,
- To taking away the lure,
- then moving to using a hand signal…
basically eliminating things until dog understands a verbal cue. We have a renewed respect for dog trainers!
Watch Kristen in Action at Catch Canine Training Academy!
Major Lessons in Dog Training:
One of the main takeaways Kristen shared with us is how easy it is to reinforce bad behavior inadvertently. Dee taught the group the psychology of how we actually reinforce bad behavior without realizing it. “I’m really cognizant of it this past week with our walks. If I let this dog pull me to sniff, I’m rewarding negative behavior.”
“A walk is a walk. And when a dog performs and does what it’s supposed to do, then you allow them to sniff. You’re using these fun things like sniffing and playing as rewards. If you don’t use them to use as reward for positive behavior, you’re missing out. Another example: why would you leave food in dishes for dogs to graze at their own pace? Feedings are a perfect opportunity to reinforce behaviors that you’ve taught!” says Kristen.
Every interaction with our pets is an opportunity to continue to reinforce positive behavior in them. As dog walkers, we know we’re not just walking dogs; there are so many other things going on. We can support whatever training the dog has completed given that we spend so much time with our clients’ pups. Some quick takeaways:
- There’s a time for play, but you also want to continue to reinforce the behaviors you’ve spent time instilling in your dog.
- You can undo them with silly things like walking in the house too excited, squealing and over-exciting them, and then they end up jumping.
- Every move you make is important, something you have to be mindful of if you want to reinforce good behavior.
That’s why it’s important for the whole family to be on board with reinforcing good behavior, or else training will be a waste of time and money.
Kristen learned that, not surprisingly, a lot of dog psychology is totally relatable to how we raise our children. “This is exactly what’s going on with my daughter. I couldn’t believe the parallel between training kids and training daughter. Every day we can either reinforce positive behaviors or negative behavior as walkers, thus missing opportunities.”
We are all very satisfied with what Kristen learned. Kristen says, “Dee is amazing. We worked heavily with the shelter dogs which was challenging and fulfilling. If you can work with them you can work with any dog! We also worked with trained dogs and did a lot of exercises alongside other trainers, who we watched and learned from.”
Trainers Helping Homeless Animals at Miami-Dade Animal Services
We also love that the training took place at Miami-Dade Animal Services, because the larger dogs have a harder time getting adopted than small dogs do. This workshop directly benefited and changed many doggie lives, because a trained dog is much easier to handle and adopt.
Kristen agrees: “It was nice to go to Miami-Dade Animal Services. They have a beautiful facility and it was so rewarding to volunteer there. We each took out three different dogs daily, all big shelter dogs. It was really cool to work with them because we don’t know what they know or what they’ve been trained in. There’s a very broad description of their personality when you see their sheet.”
Kristen really enjoyed the training, and we can’t wait for her to share her knowledge with our dog walkers. “I loved being able to work with dogs that are unwanted. You gain a sense of respect for these trainers. It’s a hard job but the rewards are high because these dogs are so smart. You take away the most that you are implementing something and it’s this communication that goes on between you and the dog- it’s like seeing a kid learn. When they realize you’re teaching them to sit and they get it consistently, what you set out to do you’ve accomplished. That’s the best feeling.”
A vital member of the Equipaws family, Frankie can mostly be found working behind the scenes, helping co-create online branding, managing several social media accounts, designing brand collateral, and writing copy. As a Pet Tech-certified CPR and First Aid Instructor, Frankie trains our employees in these life-saving techniques. Additionally, she fills in for pet sitters and dog walkers when needed in Palmetto Bay, Pinecrest, and South Miami. Her own small pack consists of Boots the Shih Tzu mix, Nutmeg the Chiweenie, and little Queen Bee Suzy, a Miniature Pinscher.