Category Archives: At AniEd

Off-leash puppy play…yay or nay

Off-leash play in puppy classes is considered the norm by some and abhorrent to others. This is likely because it can go well or horribly, horribly wrong.


First thing to understand is what socialisation is really all about. Socialisation doesn’t equal playing with everything or greeting everyone. Socialisation should produce social neutrality; your dog should be able to see another dog and think “there’s another dog…so what?!”, “there’s a new person…whatever!”.
Being so comfortable with other dogs or humans (or other goings on), that they are not cause to go bonkers, is the goal. They can be friendly and appropriate, but they don’t NEED to watch, interact with, pull toward, run up to, sniff or bark at dogs as they pass. 

Dogs who have lots of uncontrolled, high-octane play with other dogs, especially as puppies or adolescents, may have difficulty with this. They learn to associate other dogs with HIGH levels of arousal (stress), frustration and even distress; the effects of which can be addictive which is why they can appear to enjoy such contact.


Yes, learning appropriate social skills is important for young dogs, especially as we have only a short period during which we can do this really effectively, but we don’t want to magnetise our puppies to other dogs…the key here is learning APPROPRIATE social skills.

Emphasis needs to be on teaching puppies and dogs that focusing on their owners is super-rewarding, even in the presence of other dogs. Other dogs are part of the background, and that’s cool…but their owner is AMAZING!

As usual, this isn’t a YES/NO answer. Off leash play can be done well and provide benefits to puppies and young dogs, but unfortunately, it very easily leads to damage to social development and behaviour.

For it to benefit, puppies must be chosen and matched carefully and play supervised directly. All puppies should have some basic skills so they are not learning that the presence of other dogs means immediate crazy arousal levels, with lots of interruptions, opportunities to escape and plenty of breaks for relaxation. And throughout, owner education and participation should be emphasised.

We don’t always do off-leash play in class, it is not the sole focus of our puppy classes. Developing comfort, promoting owner engagement, and helping puppy-people build skills is far more important.

This is from our Puppy1 class a couple of weeks ago. Puppies, learning to chill on their mats with other puppies and activity all around. Their owners are learning how to use a high rate of reinforcement so that their puppies learn about owner focus. Everybody engaged with one another in a cool and calm manner, despite being in an exciting environment.

But, puppy class is just one hour per week. Organising little play dates with puppies and appropriate friends, in a more controlled environment with direct supervision is important too.

We can help with our PlayDates service, which is designed to provide young dogs with appropriate social outlets so that owners can work on focus, engagement and training exercises from class.


When we do off-leash play, this clips shows how we do it. But, it’s not the be-all and end-all – it forms part of an educational process, not just in the curriculum to entertain or tire puppies.


Crazy2Calm class – STARTING SOON!

Crazy dogs are often misjudged, much maligned and blamed for their crazy ways but that very crazy behaviour is more than likely associated with high arousal (emotional excitement), difficulty to cope with frustration and poor stress-control skills.


How might you identify a crazy dog?

The crazy dog comes in many forms, but in general these dogs have trouble with bringing themselves down after getting wound up; they might :

  • show reactive behaviour on lead or in confinement – barking, lunging, growling toward triggers such as other dogs, cyclists, other people
  • show attention seeking behaviour and/or bark excessively
  • have difficulty settling
  • have difficulty focusing
  • jump up
  • pull on lead
  • be excitable
  • be destructive
  • show frustration related behaviour such as pulling on lead, grabbing, vocalising when they want something
  • dislike confinement or being left alone

The crazy behaviour itself isn’t really the full issue, it’s more that the dog has trouble bringing themselves down from this high and often this manifests in over the top behaviour.

These are my favourite dogs to work with (and live with…ahem…Decker…) because they offer lots of behaviour (lots of crazy behaviour) and  are just begging to be shown which ones are more appropriate.


Crazy to Calm Training Class

This training course is perfect for those crazy dogs, and their humans but also for dogs:

  • who are expected to cope with pretty exciting environments such as dogs who attend shows and competitions, dogs who assist their humans or dogs who attend work with their humans
  • who have spent time in a kennel environment such as a shelter
  • who are working through a training or behaviour modification program to help with reactive or stress-related behaviour

Crazy to Calm class will help you to:

  • prevent crazy behaviour by giving the humans a better understanding of their dog’s behaviour
  • manage crazy behaviour by helping your dog develop better focus skills and improved on-leash behaviour
  • tackle the underlying causes of crazy behaviour by working on self-calming skills

We will do this through lots of games, using a high rate of reward with food rewards, interaction with their human,  toys & play.
We will not be suppressing crazy behaviour, as is so often the approach, but instead building more appropriate behaviour, while helping your dog learn to cope with excitement better – giving you both tools to harness that crazy into focus, fun and engagement.


  • 10 class course starting soon, Thursday evenings 7-8.30pm
  • 4 dog/handler teams
  • each class is 90 minutes
  • costs €250

You will have access to course online area where videos and homework exercises, along with comprehensive course manual, will be available so that you and your dog can practice at home and where you really need these developing skills.

You will need:

  • your dog!
  • your dog’s flat collar and regular lead
  • a range of food rewards of different values to your dog
  • tug toys – a longer one and a shorter hand-held one
  • specific mat or blanket (just for classwork)
  • a jacket or top with pockets to hold rewards (rather than a treat pouch)
  • optional: flirt pole
  • optional: a crate, at home

Course content includes:

  • human training
  • tools for managing your dog in class and crazy situations
  • settling & self-calming
  • mindfulness
  • focus & engagement
  • release cues
  • patience & frustration control
  • targeting and applications
  • handling comfort & restraint
  • on-leash responsiveness & behaviour
  • focus points
  • body awareness
  • confinement training & Crate Games
  • escape & emergency cues
  • play & rollercoaster games
  • appropriate application of enrichment
  • counterconditioning & trigger work

Register for class here, or email, comment here or on our Facebook page!

To know more about our training, check out our YouTube channel for lots of clips or our Facebook page for more information.

Engagement…what is it good for?

Like all things that are the talk of training-town, engagement is difficult to define. We know it when we see it, and we certainly know when we don’t have it.

‘To engage’ is defined as participating, to attract someone’s attention, and the one I particularly like, to establish meaningful contact or connection.


Engagement, for me and the dogs I work with, including my own, is about the dog choosing to engage, wanting to engage, finding me the most rewarding, over all the other things.
And that’s the key; the dog wants to be involved and to participate.

You can easily see the value of engagement…it gets you great recall, it gets you nice loose leash walking, it gets you working around distractions.

Attention and focus and engagement…oh my!

Is engagement the same as attention and focus?
Well, yes and no. Great engagement will get you attention and focus, that’s for sure.

Attention probably means eye contact or something close to that. While focus may not necessarily require that the dog focus on you, perhaps on something specific in the environment.
We might teach these skills as part of working on engagement.


How ever you define it, engagement is chosen by the dog, rather than cued; engagement is not contingent on you having food rewards or toys.
The key to engagement is that you are not trying to get it, you are worthy of engagement and your dog fights to engage!

You can see that engagement is the foundation to teaching all the other behaviours; it’s what we build our relationship, with our dog, on and with.

Engagement is a two-way street

Making engagement happen starts with the human. If we want our dog to choose us, regardless of what else is going on and regardless of whether you have treats or toys, we have to work to prove that engaging with us is the best!

When the dog is engaged, choosing you regardless, he pushes into the learning and interacting process; he is more than meeting you halfway.

Here’s a clip of Decker and I, in a play-group situation with dogs of mixed age, sex, and neuter status. Decker is an entire male AmStaff (a type of “pit bull”). I have no treats, food or toys – he fights to engage regardless of the distraction level.


Spot the fighting to engage?!

Disclaimer: this was not intended to stress out any dog, but more so to demonstrate the ability to develop such owner-focus and engagement without the use of aversives. 

It’s never too late to start and it’s always worth it. But, it doesn’t happen over night – engagement is a journey, rather than a destination.

Join us for our trainer’s workshop on engagement, “Engagement – what is it good for?” during which we will work on a range of engagement exercises to build focus and attention, to proof distractions, and install on and off switches – all through fun and games.


Where: AniEd Training & Education Centre in Glasnevin, Dublin 11 (just off J5 M50)
When: Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th April, 2018
What time: starting at 12pm, finishing about 5pm
Format: workshop; all dog/handler team places are gone and there are just a couple of spectator places left
How much: €50 for one day, €90 for both days
Who’s it for? This workshop is designed for those who are working or training as trainers, or for experienced handlers training in dog sports
Booking: you must book for this workshop to ensure your place. Please email if you would like to join us.

Watch our seminar for FREE!

Our Got Puppy. Now What? puppy troubleshooting seminar was a great success today, with lots of puppy owners attending, bring great questions and excellent observations.

Not only did we offer this seminar FREE, but we also recorded the event, broadcasting it via Facebook Live.

You can watch the recording here:


Here’s a link to the presentation used as it’s tricky to see it on screen.
We didn’t really stick to a structure and were led by the questions and topics brought up.

Lots of free goodies to help keep happy puppies in forever homes 

Please share!


NEW Webinar Available

This webinar will help you to develop a program, starting from before puppies are born, to help them build resilience, coping skills, good recovery from arousal, and become social, happy, confident and trainable companions (that, most importantly, stay in their homes forever!).

Not only that, if you want a really in-depth covering of puppy development and associated research, the online area is comprehensive, with a capital C!

At a glance:

  • four part recorded webinar
  • over two hours long
  • costs €50 for access to webinar in two formats, and comprehensive resource centre online
  • to purchase access please email
  • can be accessed from all over the world – all you need is an internet connection (options to download for offline access too)

Who’s it for?

All trainers and behaviour professionals will benefit, and this is especially for breeders, fosters and puppy rearers.

Really, anyone who will be in contact with a litter of puppies, for any length of time, so is perfect for rescue organisations.

Puppy Behavioural Development Webinar

We talk a whole lot about puppies, and the importance of early interventions cannot be over-estimated. Puppies need careful, structured and appropriate enrichment or challenge early in life to ensure that they have the best chances of growing up to be safe, and happy adult dogs.

Research continues to show that interventions must be implemented earlier and earlier, so by the time a puppy owner gets their puppy at 8-10 weeks of age, there should be a whole lot of vital work already done.

Sadly, the concepts related to this area are generally poor understood, with most people not intervening until there is some sort of serious behaviour problem affecting their relationship with their dog.

Behavioural tendencies are present as a result of a tricky mix of genetic influences, and environmental conditions (how puppy is reared). But behaviour is also most likely to get dogs killed – dogs become unwanted because of their behaviour.
We hear talk of giving dogs a second chance, when they have found themselves unwanted, but how about we emphasise giving puppies a first chance instead?!

Getting started as early as possible helps to make up for anything that might be lacking in the genetics department, and aims to prepare puppy for all the experiences and stresses it will face throughout its life.

This four part webinar is over two hours long, and packed with information and ideas to help give puppies the best start, and a first chance at a long and happy life with their humans.

Four parts:

  1. Concepts behind this program
  2. Contributors to behavioural development
  3. Challenging the system
  4. Developmental markers & building the program

Goals of this webinar:

Taking this webinar will help you:

  • understand requirements to support puppy behavioural development
  • recognise behaviour markers indicating puppy’s requirements as they develop
  • develop awareness for contributors to behavioural development
  • review reliable research on puppy behavioural development
  • understand commonly used terms relating to this area

You will get:

  • access to the recorded webinar in slideshow and YouTube formats so that you can view it or download it
  • webinar includes lots of video of puppies at various stages of development
  • discussion of behavioural markers that indicate required and beneficial interventions
  • access to the online resource centre
  • online resource centre includes references to all research discussed in the webinar, training clips and information on important concepts discussed
  • comment/discussion facility so that the learning can continue

If you would like to purchase, please email and we will get you sorted as soon as possible. What better way to start the New Year than with learning and adorable puppies…

Got Puppy. Now what?

Regardless of whether getting a puppy or new dog around Christmas is actually a bad thing (for that puppy or new dog), is up for debate; arguing the point is not relevant now.

If new puppies are in new homes, which they undoubtedly are, we want to keep them there by supporting new puppy owners, giving them the best advice and helping them avail of the best resources on puppy care.

We have a FREE trouble-shooting seminar for all puppy owners in January to help, and make sure everyone gets off on the right paw.

When – Saturday 6th January, 2018
What time – 2pm-4pm
Where – at the AniEd centre in Glasnevin, Dublin 11; just off J5 M50

What will we cover?

It will be two hours of puppy-people’s questions. All those niggling, puppy problems and behaviour mysteries will be discussed, so that puppies and their families can stay together in peace and harmony.

We will cover topics such as:

  • what puppies need to know
  • social experience – puppy and people
  • social experience  – puppy and other dogs
  • social experience – puppy and other animals
  • environmental experience – growing puppy brains and building confident, resilient puppies
  • puppy’s first walks
  • travelling in the car
  • importance of mental exercise
  • care with physical exercise
  • puppy nipping, biting and bite inhibition
  • puppies & children
  • management – prevent unwanted puppy behaviour
  • crate and confinement training – benefits and pitfalls
  • alone training
  • night-time training
  • passive training – catch your puppy doing the right thing!
  • Park your Pup – teach your puppy to relax and settle, and be ignored
  • preventing resource guarding
  • handling and grooming comfort
  • toilet training
  • playing with your puppy

We have lots to cover, and no doubt there will be more to discuss.

Who should attend?

This is vital for new puppy owners, if even if they have had puppies before. There’s nothing like going from an adult dog to a new, young puppy!!

We will be discussing puppy training & behaviour relating to puppies five months and younger.

This will also be great for those thinking of getting a puppy so that they can be prepared.

Pet professionals and veterinary personnel are welcome to come along too, as they will often be in positions to advise puppy owners.

Please book!

This is a people-only event, and requires booking so we know how many to expect.

You can book by emailing, messaging our Facebook page, or calling and leaving your details (01 8308380 or 086 044 9275).
We are closed for Christmas and New Year’s but will make sure to respond to all bookings for this event as soon as possible. Rest assured, that if you have contacted us and left your details, you have a spot on this seminar!

Please share, far & wide so we can get the best support to new puppy people, and prevent an onslaught of unwanted, difficult puppies in 2018.