Monday, 23 March 2020

Training and Behaviour in the time of Covid-19 - see you online!


The world has changed around us. The situation with Covid-19 has escalated quickly and the situation is expected to get worse over the coming weeks. 

We all have a responsibility to keep ourselves and everyone around us as safe and healthy as we can. This is the best way to directly help our health services and authorities respond effectively and save lives.  



Social distancing is essential, and that means staying away from other people (more than 2 metres) and avoiding prolonged contact (in proximity for more than 15 minutes).



We are also being asked to avoid “non-essential” travel. That means we don’t want to encourage you to travel for a session with your trainer or behaviourist. It also means our staff should travel as little as possible.



So, all face to face sessions are currently postponed until further notice.  Clients with sessions booked in will be contacted directly by their trainer or behaviourist to make further arrangements.  We are a small team, so please do bear with us while we organise this.

This isn’t about trying to carry on until the government shuts things down. And we are suffering as a micro-business, just as many others are.

We want to make a good decision today, and we want to help you make those decisions too. 


BUT we can STILL help you!



It is absolutely possible to help with almost all behavioural problems or training situations remotely.


It might be “better” in person (sometimes) but as the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons have announced “you may need to depart from the best practice advice … in order to safeguard yourself and your colleagues, as well as public health


We already offer online support to many of our amazing clients (via video, online material, discussion forums). This will continue as normal, and we’re working hard on additional resources for you and our new clients.

Please take care, wash your hands, and stay the heck away from other people!

We’ll see you (virtually) very soon, 

Morag, Clare, Laura and Gina

Well Connected Canine

Building Better Relationships (at a safe distance!)

*no, there's no suggestion that dogs are at risk from Covid-19, but anyone with a sensitive/shy/reactive dog knows how to keep a good distance!

Monday, 16 March 2020

Muzzles, handwashing and coronavirus

The large off lead dog rushes over to you through the woods, approaching your small on-lead dog.

So far, so normal (potentially frustrating but pretty normal), right?

Then you realise that the big black dog is in fact also wearing a close fitting black Baskerville muzzle. And you’re not sure where the owner is.

Okay…….


Then the owner appeared and shouted “It’s okay, they’re friendly really. They just don’t like joggers”.

Well, credit to the owner for choosing to muzzle their dog and reducing the risk of a jogger being nipped or bitten.

But just using a muzzle, without any other strategies, isn’t really a sensible way to reduce risk and keep everyone safe.

I try to avoid horror stories, but I’ve been on the receiving end of what’s called a “muzzle punch” from a dog (who was muzzled) and trust me, it left bruises!

When we know there is a problem, it’s up to us (with professional support if needed) to create a comprehensive strategy.


Dog “doesn’t like” joggers? 

 

Let’s assume that means our dog may unpredictably rush at, bark or consider nipping joggers.

Strategies 
  • Avoidance: plan to walk away from organised running events like Park Run, avoid busy regular running routes 
  • Management: teach our dog to really enjoy wearing a muzzle, be able to take treats from us through the muzzle, AND keep our dog on a long line in public 
  • Treatment: check what’s driving our dog’s behaviour (Fear? Anxiety? Frustration?) and develop a training plan to change both the problem and the underlying emotion 
MANY of the dogs pictured wearing muzzles in this blog are current or past WCC clients. These dogs have ALL learned to love wearing their muzzles for a whole variety of reasons. Their amazing humans know that muzzles are just part of the plan! 

By now you might be wondering what on earth this has to do with Covid19!

As a company, and as responsible individuals, we’ve had lots of discussion over the last few weeks.

While we can’t influence government policy, we can choose our own response strategy based on the available evidence and recommendations.

Hand-washing is a lot like using a muzzle on a dog – it only really helps if we’re doing the other important stuff too….

Like social distancing, reducing personal contact, regular hand-washing AND cleaning of relevant surfaces.

Respecting anyone who is self-isolating even just as a precaution, and being mindful that while you might not be badly affected, your elderly relative could become seriously ill.

What you need to know

Entirely coincidentally our only indoor classes finish this Wednesday
after which we’re on a scheduled break until the summer. This week we’re asking everyone to be sensible, avoiding any shared equipment and continuing to observe our usual high standard of hygiene.

Almost all of our other sessions are held outdoors, with the opportunity for plenty of space between people and dogs! We may adapt the structure but sessions are scheduled to continue.

If you’re a behaviour client, then home visits will continue for the moment BUT we’re asking clients to keep us informed if they experience any symptoms, or have returned from travel in affected countries according to the UK Government guidance.

For clients who are self-isolating due to suspected or confirmed infection, or in line with the government guidance on foreign travel, please do not attend for your session and contact us as soon as possible to reschedule without charge.  Please note that session charges continue to apply if we are not notified in advance of the need to cancel.

We reserve the right to ask any client or helper to leave a session if they appear to be unwell and there is a concern about infection. 

We’re looking forwards to continuing to work with you, and implementing a whole package of strategies as needed.

Morag and the beasties

What’s on in WCC Land? 


Parkour Workshops Sunday 22nd March



Gun Dog Games on Saturday 21st March



Remote Support

As always, we're available via video link and phone for ongoing training support, new behaviour consultations and more - just email the office on info@wellconnectedcanine.co.uk




The Multi-Dog Harmony workshop is currently on hold, and I’ll let you know once we have a new date.

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

Today is a good day, and a slightly sad day


Happy News



Gina has been one of our dedicated dogs bodies and helpers, but you might not realise she is also in the third year of a BSc in Canine Behaviour & Training. Since beginning to help out in classes, and getting involved through her work experience placement, we've seen Gina blossom into a great trainer.


I'm delighted to announce that Gina has now officially joined our team as a Trainer (based in Bridlington) and is delivering our Puppy Curriculum and Three Week Intensive Programmes.

It's not compulsory to have a "challenging dog" if you want to become a trainer or behaviourist, but it can give you a real insight. You can read about some of Gina's experiences with Max (Schnauzer) on the blog here: https://wellconnectedcanine.blogspot.com/2019/06/always-think-about-both-ends-of-leash.html

And here's Max starting to make friends with Laird - it's a bromance all about beards!





(thanks to Andrea for the photo - yet another one of our amazing dogsbodies)


Slightly sadder news


Our regular Wednesday evening classes (venue: Yorkshire Museum of Farming) are on hiatus for the three months from 19 March to 10 June 2020.

The WCC team is small and enthusiastic as you know, but with more teaching commitments for myself and Clare, plus Laura will be data collecting for her PhD, we're running out of hours in the day!

What WILL still be running:
  • Behaviour support sessions
  • Social Skills classes
  • Half day activity workshops like Gundog Games, Parkour and Scentwork
  • Taster sessions
  • Regular Hoopers classes at the PawPark

And for Summer 2020 we have a programme of drop-in activities planned instead of having to commit to a weekly class.

Happy Wednesday!

Morag and the beasties



Social Skills (for dogs that sometimes struggle)

Safe spaces for your dog to practice their conversational skills with other dogs or people. These sessions are ideal if your dog is ready to get closer, learn how to make friends or build tolerance levels.  Maximum of two spaces per session.
  • When: weekdays and Saturdays - there will be evening sessions from the spring 
  • Where: PawPark, Sand Hutton
  • Check the schedule and book here

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

If you go down in the woods today.....


 If you go down in the woods today


You're sure of a big surprise!

 Teddy Bear's Picnic, lyrics by Jimmy Kennedy / John W. Bratton

*and yes, that is Laird temporarily back on a long line in very exciting places. All part of my plan to give him more freedom later in the year*

In case you need to drive out the earworm, listen to the whole song here


I hope you've been able to find something better than muddy floodwater in the woods this week?

All fingers crossed here for better weather in March, not least because we have all sorts of workshops and events planned.



Social Skills (for dogs that sometimes struggle)

Safe spaces for your dog to practice their conversational skills with other dogs or people. These sessions are ideal if your dog is ready to get closer, learn how to make friends or build tolerance levels.  Maximum of two spaces per session
  • When: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays - there will be evening sessions from the spring 
  • Where: PawPark, Sand Hutton
  • Check the schedule and book here

Hoopers Taster Session (with Clare)

If you missed out on booking in to try Hoopers, we have one more workshop running before regular classes start. You MUST have attended a taster session or a 121 intro with Clare to be eligible for the classes!
  • When: 21 March 2020
  • Where: PawPark, Sand Hutton
  • Book your space here


That's not a sheep! Herding Dog Games (with Morag)

Does your dog crouch, stare, fixate or chase stuff?
Ever feel like you've just been herded round a walk?
Are other dogs puzzled by your herding dog's behaviour?

During this half day workshop we'll be learning about the special quirks of the herding dog brain and incorporating games designed for  them into your training to help build focus, steadiness, recall and the start of control at distance...plus more!  Open to all breeds of dog, not just collies! 

  • When: 22 March 2020
  • Where: PawPark, Sand Hutton
  • Book your space here

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Warning - unexpected visitor!







I always take a quick look out into my garden before releasing the hounds - usually to check for unsuspecting squirrels or excessively brave cats.

On Sunday however I was puzzled by the long tail I could see waving through my neighbour's veg garden.

Definitely too big and chunky to be a cat....

It was the lovely wee terrier cross from two doors down exploring the "extension" to his garden!

Don't forget to keep checking your fences in this weather, and polish up on your Rocket Recall too.

From a windswept York

Morag and the beasts



What’s going on in WCC Land? 


Weekly classes
  • APDT Good Companion class at 18:30 FULL
  • APDT Good Companion class at 19:30 FULL
Wednesday evening puppy workshops
  • Baby Gun Dog Games - Wed 4th March Book Here
  • Baby Hoopers - bookings open soon!
  • Baby Parkour - bookings open soon!

Workshops & Activities



Parkour really is the activity for all occasions and we have a brand new Parkour Challenge in the Wild workshop in February. This is a half-day workshop.

Sniffing School - Getting Started
The short workshop will help you and your dog to sniff together like professional detection teams. Your dog will choose from a food scent or a specially scented toy while you learn how to harness that incredible snozz. Core handling skills, individual feedback and support - there's no better way to spend a Sunday morning!  This is a half-day workshop.


Hoopers - Try a new sport for 2020!

Canine Hoopers is a fantastic low impact dog sport suitable for all ages and breeds of dog. It uses similar skills to agility, but is suitable even for young dogs or those who have retired from jumping. This introductory session will  introduce you and your dog to the key pieces of equipment; hoops, barrels and tunnels. This is a half-day workshop.


Herding Dog Games returns for March

Does your dog crouch, stare, fixate or chase stuff?
Ever feel like you've just been herded round a walk?
Are other dogs puzzled by your herding dog's behaviour?

During this half day workshop we'll be learning about the special quirks of the herding dog brain and incorporating games designed for  them into your training to help build focus, steadiness, recall and the start of control at distance...plus more!  Open to all breeds of dog, not just collies!
This is a half-day workshop.

Monday, 3 February 2020

How to impress your (canine) physiotherapist


Summer (Flat Coat Retriever) and Clare recently inspired their fab physiotherapist to dig out her own clicker...


Summer has recently had to start doing some physio exercises (nothing serious to worry about!), so we’ve been working with an amazing new physiotherapist  Frankie from Yorkshire Animal clinic, while our usual physiotherapist Hannah (Theakston Physiotherapy Services) is on maternity leave. 


Frankie has been giving us some specific homework exercise to work on, these exercises include asking Summer to put her feet on a variety of different objects and having her move or change positions. 


Summer absolutely loves doing her physio exercises, and not just because they involve getting lots of treats (though I’m pretty sure that is a significant factor!), putting her feet on different object and moving while she is on them is something Summer has practised since she was a puppy, so for her she’s just playing dog parkour games. 


When Summer was just over a year old, back in July 2018, we attended a Canine Parkour workshop run by our very own Sian. Summer learnt lots of skills that have come in super handy for our physio exercises.

  • Two feet on
  •  Four feet on
  • Confidence on unstable surfaces
  •  Self-control  
  • Feet in objects 





We think Parkour is not just a great activity for having fun with your dog (which it totally is) but is a really useful way to build your dog’s confidence, in ways that might not be apparent straight away! 

Physio often asks our dogs to move or stand in unusual positions, make use of neglected muscle groups, and cooperate with some pretty weird requests.
Voluntary participation is super important!

Don't forget we're still looking for the best multi-dog Parkour Picture to use as the WCC FaceBook cover - post your submission here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/WellConnectedCanine/ 

Happy posing,

Morag & Clare for Well Connected Canine



What’s going on in WCC Land? 


Weekly classes

Next start date is Wednesday19 Feb 2020 last available class date for three months!
  • APDT Good Companion class at 18:30 2 spaces
  • APDT Good Companion class at 19:30 1 space


Workshops & Activities



Social Skills for Dogs That Struggle are running in smaller groups, more often! See all your options to the end of March, there's at least four sessions per month now

Parkour really is the activity for all occasions and we have a brand new Parkour Challenge in the Wild workshop in February

Sniffing School - Getting Started
The short workshop will help you and your dog to sniff together like professional detection teams. Your dog will choose from a food scent or a specially scented toy while you learn how to harness that incredible snozz. Core handling skills, individual feedback and support - there's no better way to spend a Sunday morning!


Monday, 20 January 2020

Parkour Variety Pack Challenge

Just for a wee bit of fun, this week I’m inviting you to post your pictures of multi-dog Parkour poses.



You can see Laird demonstrating a 2-up, Freya sitting on the same object, and Bronte sitting on a different manhole cover to the side.



I was trying to get Freya to stand rather than sit for a real variety pic, but it took all my time to keep Bronte from wimbling off!



While Parkour is great for building self-control, proprioception and more, it’s also perfect for those of us struggling to get more than one dog in the same photo.

Don’t worry if you only have one canine in your family, why not take the challenge with a friend or meet up with another Well Connected Canine and their person (feel free to use our FB group to make contact).

The best picture will become the group cover pic for February, so get snapping and submit your entries to the FB group.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/WellConnectedCanine/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/WellConnectedCanine/

A joyful update on the GWP who loves to hold onto things

Laird’s love of holding, chewing and sometimes eating things has been a wee bit of a challenge not least because of the sheer size of his jaws. Clare has been very patient with Laird (and me) in the Gundog Games workshops, and we’ve both had to think in new and interesting ways.

Key challenges
  • Laird can and will eat things rather than give them up, and will often eat things just for fun so even ignoring him isn’t always a safe option 
  • Laird loves food and toys about equally, and he loves them both A LOT, which makes for lots of conflicted feelings if we try to use one to swop for the other 
  • Laird has previous experience of being made to give things up, and is definitely too big for that to work now, and he knows it 
  • Laird has previous experience of being bribed or distracted to give something up, so is extra suspicious of being offered something when he has an item in his mouth 
  • Laird’s mouth is so big (really!) that if we play games where we reward him for dropping the toy, or throw food near the toy, he often just ends up loosing the cheese or sausage in his jowls. 
  • And then when he drops his head to pick up the toy, the food falls out onto it – cue panicked eating and holding of toy at the same time…
It’s fair to say we’ve worked through most of the normal solutions, without really feeling like we were making consistent progress.  Until Clare had a moment of genius. She will tell you it’s nothing of the sort, but I’m convinced! 

Dog training is all about figuring out what our dog really wants, deciding if we can safely give them access to it, and using it as a reward.

There’s no point offering me Xmas cake as a reward for anything, because I don’t like fruitcake and despise marzipan…..

Laird *loves* to play tug games.

But for all the reasons listed earlier, using food rewards as part of tug games hasn’t worked that well for us.

What we have worked on is Laird realising I will let go if he tugs too hard (ouch!), and that he needs to push the toy into my hands to restart the game (no grabbing by me).

So Clare’s brilliant idea was
  • Play tuggy as normal, and then pause the game. 
  • I stopped interacting and tugging. 
  • As soon as Laird responded by easing off his pressure, I said his marker word and then played. 
  • Repeat ad infinitum. 

We’re looking for moments where Laird chooses to loosen his grip on the toy, marking it, and rewarding with another round of tug – because that’s usually what Laird wants more than anything.

The proof is in the pudding as they say, and we had no idea if it would work.

Pretty quickly it was obvious that we were getting longer pauses, and then Laird started to release the toy (no cues are being given!).

I’ve played around with the ideas, but truthfully not as much as I planned to.

And then this afternoon Laird snuck into the kitchen and stole one of Bronte’s old training toys.



Sheepskin on a bungee with a tennis ball – that really is the holy grail.

My current meditation practice is all about turning difficult situations into opportunities to practice, so I took some deep breaths and in a cheery voice asked Laird if he wanted to play….

Ten minutes later the toy was still intact.

Laird had played beautifully, and chose to give the toy up several times.

When we finished and put it away, there was no jumping or snatching or grumpiness.

I am so proud of my big lad, and so grateful for Clare’s suggestions.

What have I learned today?
  • Go back to basics, and listen to the dog in front of you 
  • An outside perspective can and will help you make progress 
  • Be grateful for the training opportunities as they arise, no matter how annoying the timing! 

Don’t forget to send in your Parkour Variety Pack pictures before the end of January,

All good wishes

Morag

What’s going on in WCC Land? 


Weekly classes next start date is 19 Feb 2020
 
  • APDT Good Companion class at 18:30 FULLY BOOKED


Workshops & Activities

Gundog Games workshops with Clare run monthly AND you can buy three workshops at a discounted rate, so long as you use them within 6 months

First session for 2020 is Sat 25th Jan at 13:30
 


Social Skills for Dogs That Struggle are running in smaller groups, more often! See all your options to the end of Feb, there's at least four sessions per month now: Book Here

Parkour really is the activity for all occasions and we have an introductory session in January plus a brand new Parkour Challenge in the Wild workshop in February
 

Sunday, 5 January 2020

New Year: New Actions?

Image

Yep, it's that time of year again when the world seems full of good ideas and shiny resolutions. Not to mention the fields are full of dogs suddenly being walked more than usual.

I'm (Morag) a big fan of setting goals, tracking actions and reviewing progress.

But I'm NOT a big fan of the whole new year/new you shenanigans.

Image

The trick is to figure out your goal, and then break that down into the daily or weekly actions that will get you closer.

Rather than tracking your success each week, just make sure to record what you actually did. You can control what you take action on even if the results are variable!

For example
I can make a point of practicing attention games with Laird at least twice on every walk in dense woodland.

Does that guarantee that he will have been paying attention?

Heck no!

But it massively increases the chance that he will be paying more attention as the days and weeks go past...

We can give you the games, techniques and tools - you just need to put in the consistent effort.

Image

We're officially back in the office from Monday 6th January, and bookings are already open for our January classes (start 15 Jan) if you want some support in taking those regular tiny actions!

Morag, Clare & Laura
Well Connected Canine


What’s going on in WCC Land? 


Weekly classes are moving to Wednesday evenings from 15th January 2020
 
  • APDT Good Companion classes at 18:30 Book Here
  • Relaxation & Bodywork classes at 19:30 Book Here


Workshops & Activities

Gundog Games workshops with Clare will run monthly AND you can buy three workshops at a discounted rate, so long as you use them within 6 months
 


Social Skills for Dogs That Struggle are running in smaller groups, more often! See all your options for January, there's at least four sessions per month now: Book Here

Parkour really is the activity for all occasions and we have an introductory session in January plus a brand new Parkour Challenge in the Wild workshop in February
 

Multi-dog harmony was a popular request last year so we’re offering a webinar in January to introduce the core skills, AND a practical workshop in February to put it into practice. BOOKINGS OPENING SOON!


There are fewer places on most workshops so you can get more focused, individualised help!