Category Archives: Training Classes

Dogs on Sniffari

Last weekend we had a Scent & Sniffing workshop for our trainers. We hold workshops about every month to provide continuing education for our trainers, and where there is space, for other trainers and dog lovers too.

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Certainly my favourite part of this is the application of scent and sniffing to improving the welfare of pet dogs. But, we covered lots on related sports and training, the biology of scent and learning about airflow and the ‘behaviour’ of odour.

It was a great day, with lots of engaged trainers and willing dogs – after all this is their thing!

By far the favourite part of the day, for humans and canines alike, was the Sniffari we set up, at the front of the training centre.

What’s a Sniffari?

I would love to say that I originated the term, but I think the credit goes to dog trainer Kristi Benson. And I would also love to claim that I came up with this idea, but I saw some similar version of this on a training company’s Facebook page and I can’t find it now – if anyone knows, please share so I can give credit.
(UPDATE:  found it, tucked away in resources folder! This comes from the mobile Snuffle Park by Dog Solutions, an Australian company!)

AniEd’s version of this is possibly a little different and I am hoping to develop it more and more.

Sniffari is an olfactory adventure for your dog. It can be as elaborate or as basic, as large or small, and as complex or simple as you like. You are limited only by your imagination, and how far you want to take this.

We went all-out-elaborate for our workshop. Attendees from around the country brought lots of bits and pieces to build the Sniffari. AniEd is already filled with “rubbish” that we use for puzzling and enrichment, so we contributed lots too.

Here’s a quick tour of the set-up:

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AniEd Sniffari

Our Sniffari is not just an olfactory journey, but a multi-sensory one. The dogs are drawn in and around many substrates, obstacles, sights AND smells. Many layers of cognition are engaged, meaning that so much brain power is involved.

That it was outside, to give us lots of space, also provided extra challenges in the way the breeze moved through the obstacles.

There were five dogs at the workshop and each had a different experience but all were enthralled. Afterwards they were tired, but chilled out rather than exhausted from exertion.

If you would prefer just to watch little snippets from each dog’s adventure see the next clip, but if you would like to watch an edited clip of each dog’s journey, that follows too (in alphabetical order!).

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Cooper on Sniffari

Cooper is an adolescent Cocker, a pretty high-arousal fella who is always moving and whirling. I particularly enjoyed watching him do this and felt that he may benefit the most from this sort of slower-paced activity. I don’t think I have seen him as calm, engaged, and moving as slowly and controlled as he did through the items of interest.

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He systematically sniffs every item and methodically moves around the course, ensuring he doesn’t miss anything. What a wonderful experience for this guy; really taking time to think and sniff, take his time, relax and take in information without worry or arousal. Good job Cooper!

Decker on Sniffari

Decker is a mature entire male and although he is a serious sniffer, this was probably a little less enriching for him. Most of the items are from AniEd and he’s here almost every day, and many are from the beach he goes to most days too, so lots of these things are just not as interesting to him – he’s sniffed it all before!

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Decker also believes that all people who come to AniEd are here to see him, so he feels obliged to greet everyone and make sure he shows his gratitude to his fanbase.

He spent lots of time on feathers and does a great double-take passing the duck feathers, going back to give them some intense attention. He’s a pretty methodical sniffer too, but this is how he is when sniffing in general and during specific trained sniffing related activities.

Eric on Sniffari

Eric is a mature neutered male and is a cautious fella. He finds new things, new environments and change a little concerning so would rather keep his distance. However, Eric was able to engage with this activity and was certainly keen to investigate and explore.

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You can see Eric’s worry and apprehension but his senses took over and led him in and around obstacles he wouldn’t normally approach, helping him cope and allowing him to gather information about the world around him. Such an awesome experience for him.

He worked for a shorter period than the other dogs – they all got to decide when they had enough and wanted to move on but, he certainly immersed himself in Sniffari-ing. We left it up for the rest of the day, so each time the dogs went out for a break, they could choose to engage in the course at any stage.

Well done Eric – Sniffari’s are excellent for soft, sensitive dogs too!

Ivy on Sniffari

Ivy is a mature ex-racing Greyhound, spayed female, and is a slightly cautious and very dainty lady. She also sniffed methodically and seemed to be particularly interested in animal related items.

She shows a little apprehension when passing between items so a more sparsely populated Sniffari might be preferred by her.

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She spends lots of time sniffing every inch of the snufflemat that one of our trainers had made for her pet rats. Ivy is pretty interested in small-furries and chasing, so this intense interest makes sense.
What a great way to provide her some outlets for her interests, without causing the high high high arousal associated with chasing and hunting.

Sniffaris work as an outlet for chasers – go Ivy!

It’s interesting to note that Ivy marked, with urine, twice; once after sniffing the rat snufflemat and a second time, after sniffing a mound of seaweed. Both times she showed marking behaviour with leg lifting.

It is to be expected that dogs will urinate after sniffing, especially lengthy sniffing sessions. Shafik, 1994, demonstrates a link between sniffing and urinating so the dogs were given lots of toilet breaks throughout the day between olfactory adventures.

It might also be interesting to note that the two girls marked in the Sniffari and the boys didn’t, even though two of them followed the girls’ rounds.

Lottie on Sniffari

Lottie is a mature Boerboel spayed female. She is a pretty social girl but did show a little concern at some of our attendees, who sat across the road to watch, and, also at some patrons from another business up the road a bit. Regardless, she methodically sniffs her way around, not missing a thing with her nose!

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Upon reviewing her footage I note that she spends a lot of time sniffing and studying other dogs’ bedding and items. To dogs, this is social interaction, even though there’s no contact.

This may be an important outlet for dogs who prefer not to hang out with other dogs, for dogs who are worried by other dogs, and for dogs who are not going to be able to be exposed to other dogs due to their age, health and so on.

Gathering that information may also be important in developing comfort with other dogs, assessing the potential level of threat or determining that the dog hasn’t been in the area for a while (as in, it’s an old or weak smell).

Sniffaris might be a great way of giving dogs who don’t hang out with other dogs access to social interaction. Way to go Lottie!

Along with Ivy the other bitch, Lottie also marked, at the side of the tent. This may have been overmarking as it’s possible that another dog had marked there previously (but not for a while as this was the first time this tent had been used in a long time).

Puppy1 on Sniffari

We are continuing to develop our Sniffaris so we added some to Puppy1 class this week. Puppy class includes different cognitive, physical and environmental challenges each week, and this week’s was puzzle feeding. We combined this with some Sniffari ideas.

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There are lots of differences in the puppies’ experience and that of the workshop dogs. First you will notice the level of activity is higher and their ability to sniff and explore methodologically is lower.

Although the fact that they’re puppies has a little to do with this, it’s also affected by the group dynamics and the presence of food in some of the puzzles.
This increases activity relating to competition between the dogs and it increases the intensity of their searching.

Also, it’s Galaxy’s (Pug) first class so he’s likely pretty overwhelmed by the entire sensory explosion that evening. It’s also likely that these puppies haven’t had a ton of experience with other dogs, outside of class, and that the world is relatively new to all of them. Puppies, of course, approach most interactions with exuberance and enthusiasm, and that’s certainly evident here.

Sniffari’s, providing multi-sensory experience and multi-level challenges are good for puppies, helping to grow puppy brains!

Take Your Dog On Sniffari!

We will be continuing to develop this idea as we feel it, like many of the sniffing applications we use regularly, has the potential to provide many benefits to lots of dogs.

Dogs live in the human world and as such must inhibit a lot of their most dogginess. Providing sniffing outlets is essential for making sure pet dogs are healthy in both body and mind.

Sniffaris may be ideal for:

  • young dogs
  • kenneled dogs
  • dogs living in less enriched environments
  • dogs on rest or exercise restriction
  • dogs who will benefit from some confidence building
  • dogs who are excitable and easily aroused
  • dogs who find the outside world a little overwhelming
  • dogs who might be very interested in hunting
  • dogs who might not want to be around other dogs a whole lot, or don’t get the opportunity to meet other dogs a lot
  • dogs new to the home – everything is a Sniffari to them as they settle into their new world
  • older dogs who may not be able to get about as well as they once did

But really, all dogs will benefit and enjoy the opportunity to get lost in their olfactory world.

In our Sniffari we had a tent, chairs and tables to add different dimensions. We used a wooden frame, pool noodles, streamers, mats of different substrates, tubs of water, platforms and hula-hoops to add in physical and tactile challenge. We used seaweed, plants, old shoes, fur, feathers, toys, boxes, old food and cosmetic containers, vegetation, twigs and branches, sweeping brush, different containers, and lots of bits and pieces to add real olfactory interest.

Make sure the item/s aren’t dangerous and safe to be sniffed, that they don’t contain or have never contained substances toxic to dogs, and make sure they’re appropriate for your dog. For example, it’s not a good idea to bring back vegetation that strange dogs may have peed on to unvaccinated puppies.

Display the items in as wide a space as possible so that odour can circulate and leave space for your dog to move between items.

Start today by promising to take your dog on Sniffari as often as possible. When you go somewhere, without your dog, bring back at least one item and allow your dog to sniff, sniff, sniff. This might simply be allowing them to go to town on your shoes, tracing your steps in olfaction.

Take your dog on a SNIFF, rather than a walk, make dog walks more dog, and add some snuffling puzzles to every day life.

Share with us your Sniffari ideas!

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Details:

  • 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 info@anied.ie, 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.

Training Classes @ AniEd!

We love teaching pets and their people! Here’s a run-through of our basic classes that are on on weekday evenings.

Puppy Manners

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Puppy class isn’t really about teaching obedience and “commands”, but more so about making sure we are installing some vital life skills that puppies must develop during their first few months.

Anything you want in a two year old dog or a five year old dog, we have to prepare for now, while puppy is in those early months of life. All is not lost if we don’t get started that early, but certainly we need to get working on this stuff as soon as possible.

This clip gives you a taste of just some of the work we do on this course – and this is just the tip of the iceberg…

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Puppy Manners course:

  • 6 class course
  • roll on/roll off – start as soon as your puppy is fully vaccinated
  • for puppies under 5-6 months of age (still have baby teeth!)
  • course costs €125
  • Tuesday evenings, 7-8pm

Register here.

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Before your puppy is vaccinated, it’s important to use that time to get a headstart with a Puppy Session (90 minute private session – €60).

If you book both a Puppy Session (€60) and a Puppy Manners course (€125) you pay just €150 – which is a great foundation for you and your puppy to get off on the right paw (not to mention a great bargain!)

More on Puppy Sessions here and register here.

Teenagers Manners

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Once puppy education is over, that’s not the end of your dog’s lessons; indeed it’s only the beginning – we wouldn’t expect a child to be done with school after the first half of primary school!

Teenage dogs, just like puppies, have specific requirements. Adolescent dogs are most likely to become unwanted so we want to put lots of work in place to make sure the teenag dog stays a lifelong canine companion.

We work on lots during the Teenagers Manners course, all based in helping the adolescent dog develop better self-control and self-calming skills.

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Teenagers Manners course:

  • 6 class course
  • for dogs over six months and under 14-18 months
  • course costs €125
  • Wednesday evenings, 7-8pm

Register here.

Monday Manners

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This is a quick, intense basics course – all done in four classes!
The Monday Manners course is for adult dogs, over 18 months of age.

This is some of what we cover:

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Monday Manners course:

  • 4 class course
  • for dogs over 18 months of age
  • course costs €100
  • Monday evenings, 7-8pm

Register here.

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We welcome all types of dogs at AniEd but not all dogs benefit from a class environment. We do everything possible to keep our training class environment low-stress (see our videos!) but some dogs have difficulty coping with even that; proximity of strange dogs or people, lots of food rewards or toys, lots of distracting smells and general excitement associated with being some place new can be pretty challenging.
I often tell our training class students that bringing their dogs to class and asking them to concentrate is like bringing their seven year old to Disney World and then asking them to do their homework!

So, we will work with you to make sure that we find the best service and approach to help you and your dog – there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with your dog (or you), every one’s an individual and we will do our best to help you.

Email or call us if you have any queries about class, suitability and AniEd services: contact us.