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Check out this blog for recent dog training tips, behavior articles, dog training videos, and photos!  We'll show you real training that we're doing in and around DC.  Plus, our tips on working with you dog in an urban environment.  

Have a question that you want answered by Michelle?  Email your question to michelle@gooddogdc.com and your answer may appear here!

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Howard Ave Studio Closing

Posted by gooddogdc on January 6, 2016 at 4:35 PM Comments comments (1)

In case you missed our email...

 

Opening the studio space has been an amazing journey over the last two years. I am so thankful for my friends, family, colleagues and our clients, the entire Good Dog DC family, that has made the studio such a successful and positive place.

 

As some of you have probably guessed, the reason for closing is March is that I am turning a chapter in my own life journey - becoming a human mom! And, while I would love to keep open the studio space during that time; unfortunately, it will just not be feasible in terms of the time that I would have or the financial responsibilities that would exist without me teaching and managing the business full time. This has been a sad decision because of all the blood, sweat and tears that have been put into the studio space, not only from myself but also from friends and family who helped so much, especially at the beginning (and the clients who still gave us a shot when we had no AC and the studio was a wreck!). However, I am so grateful for the life that will soon be joining us, and I know it will be a huge blessing to be able to focus 100% on the baby without the distraction of also running a business.

 

It is always hard to close a chapter, but I know this is the right decision. For future plans, I'm trying to not make too many, and trying to live in the moment. Good Dog DC will remain open as a business, and, tentatively, I anticipate that I will start offering privates and board and train part time starting Fall 2016. I would guess I'll also have lots of new ideas for helping dogs adjust to new babies :). I may even seek out a space to teach some group classes, I think it will be too hard to stay away from them for long! Those are all just casual thoughts for now, when I end up making some concrete decisions, I'll be sure to let everyone know via email and via the website.

 

I will also always be available to Good Dog DC clients via email at michelle@gooddogdc.com, that email will not change. I can't promise I will be too good at replying in April and May, but I will do my best :). Even if I can't respond right away, I always love to hear from you and hear updates on how your dogs are doing, so please never hesitate to email! I will also keep the Facebook page up, so that is another way to communicate (though I don't always seems to get FB messages in a timely manner, so if I'm not replying, please also email!).

 

Finally, I just want to thank you all for everything! I feel so honored to have been part of your life stories. It's been amazing to get to know so many of you and your dogs. I couldn't ask for a better profession, and I am thankful everyday to each of you for making it a possibility. I am looking forward to spending these next three months together and continuing to work with you and your dogs.

 

Sincerely,
Michelle

Fall is here!!!

Posted by gooddogdc on October 9, 2015 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)

This is the PERFECT weather to get outside and practice training in distracting and novel environments.  It's also just beautiful weather to get out and exercise yourself and your dog.  We'll be hiking this weekend for sure, what about you?

When should you stop crating your puppy?

Posted by gooddogdc on June 24, 2015 at 2:55 PM Comments comments (1)

Lots of people ask us when they should stop crating their puppy.  Our advice is always to be conservative!  Most puppies are not reliable enough to leave uncrated until they are about 1 year.  Many dogs need to be crated until they are 2 years.  


We recommend having your puppy sleep in a closed crate.  Also, be sure to give your puppy alone time in the crate even when you are home.  This helps to maintain boundaries and independence, as well as prevent separation anxiety or bedroom guarding.


Never leave your puppy (or adult dog!) in a crate for more than 3 hours during the day.  If you need to crate your dog longer than this, please work with a professional to learn how to do this as humanely as possible.

Exercise

Posted by gooddogdc on March 6, 2015 at 5:50 PM Comments comments (0)

So, now that we are battling the never-ending winter, exercise challenges are facing us all!  Signs that your dog might be under exercised - constant barking, whining, jumping, pulling on the leash, intensified separation anxiety, increased reactivity to other dogs or people, increased fearful behavior, and the list goes on...  Basically, for most behavior problems that you are going to deal with with your dog, exercise is a huge component in changing your dog's behavior for the better.


It is not just enough to throw some toys around inside or take them in the backyard and play with them. Those things help, but they are not going to give you the calm, happy dog that you will get through walking outdoors.


Even my 10-year-old, 14-lb girl still needs to get out and exercise. With her, I don't need to do as much, but I still try to give her 20 minutes 2x per day, even in the snow.  When her feet get cold, I brush them off and she is usually ready to go pretty quick!  Or, if it is really cold and icy, we'll do a block, come back in and warm up, and then do one more block.


I always find that exercising on bad-weather days is a bit like going to the gym.  It is pretty miserable to think about and difficult to get motivated, but once you are there, it is not so bad.  And, when you are done, you feel awesome!


I recommend dressing up in warm clothing.  Good cold weather gear helps a lot, you can find awesome stuff at sporting good stores. 


Once you are dressed appropriately, it is actually a great time to go for a hike, since you will likely have the whole park mostly to yourself.  The isolation makes it is the perfect opportunity to work on off-leash reliability (use a long line if your dog is not trained yet) and obedience with distractions.  The above photo is of my dog on our hike today.  We worked on off-leash recalls, off-leash stays, and heeling, it was great!  And, running through the snow gave Max an even better workout, so I was able to accomplish a tired dog in 1/2 the normal time! 


Motivated yet?  If not, try just getting dressed in your warm clothes and resolve to go around 1 block.  Once you get outside, if you are feeling up to more, do it!  You might surprise yourself.  And, your dog will thank you for any extra exercise you can give!

Must-Have Training

Posted by gooddogdc on January 23, 2015 at 6:30 PM Comments comments (1)

If you haven’t discovered by now, I LOVE crate training! This is one of my all-time favorite commands. It is really just a modified version of place training, which I also love.

 

Why does crate training work? It gives you a way to easily manage your dog when visitors come over, it is a low-stress way to transport and travel with your dog, it allows you to bring your dog to places but keep her contained and out of the way. Crate training is a must!

 

What is crate training? To me, crate training is:

 

1. Being able to tell your dog to “kennel” from any distance/any room in the house/in any situation, and to have her fly into the nearest crate and stay there until you give a different cue.

2. Crate training is being able to stay in the crate, even with the door open for extended periods of time, such as 1-2 hours.

3. Crate training is being able to stay in a closed crate quietly and calmly for 1-3 hours at a time.

 

This is obviously a tall order and takes time and consistency to train, but a crate trained dog is so worth it!

 

Here are a few tips for successful crate training:

 

  • Always give a treat when your dog goes in the crate, always.
  • In the beginning, you may want to leave the door shut unless you are specifically working on crate training to keep it special.
  • If you are going to leave your dog in the crate for more than 1 hour, your dog should always have something to do – a stuffed KONG, a bully stick, or at the very least a Nylabone (though for the majority of the time, you should aim for something a bit higher value than a Nylabone).
  • Make your crate nice and cozy. Put a cover over the top and put in a nice, cozy bed. For young dogs or dogs who chew bedding, Kuranda makes some great durable dog beds that are extremely difficult for a dog to destroy.
  • Practice makes perfect! Don’t just wait until you have guests over to work on crate training. Practice every day, so that your dog just thinks that crate training is just a part of the day.

 

Happy training!



 

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Long Overdue!

Posted by gooddogdc on January 19, 2015 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (0)

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Well, I am going to try to be better about writing regular blogs!  This one's going to have to be quick, but check out me and Max on a recent snow day that we had.  What are some of the ways you've been exercising your dog in the cold?

Hot Day Activities

Posted by gooddogdc on July 14, 2014 at 3:05 PM Comments comments (0)


With summer here in full swing, and temperatures up in 90s today and tomorrow, that leaves many of us with active dogs stuck on what to do to keep them busy! Here are a few tips that might help satisfy your dog and give you a break!


  • Swimming – My all time favorite exercise to do with my dogs! Dogs can take swim lessons at Canine Fitness Center in Crownsville, MD. If your dog already swims, there are great swimming spots on NW Branch Trail off Colesville Rd in Silver Spring and in Cabin John Park. Even just hiking in Rock Creek and allowing your dog to wade in the creek can really help!
  • Early Morning and Late Night – Pre-8am and post-9pm, temperatures can be dramatically cooler. I particularly love a good early morning hike on a trail, like Soapstone Valley, just off Albemarle St in DC. Trails in the morning that have creeks running through them are the perfect outlet, while still keeping your dog nice and cool!
  • Scent Work – Scent work is one of my favorite activities to do with my dogs because they love it so much! Teach your dog games such as “find it”, where they can use their nose to sniff out hidden treats or a special toy. As your dog gets better, expand the search area. Pretty soon, your dog will be able to “find it”, even if the object or food is several rooms away. The best part is that all of the mental stimulation of sniffing and figuring out where the hidden prize is will tire your dog out almost as much as a walk!
  • Make Doggy Popsicles – Fill up a KONG toy will kibble and any other tasty tidbits, and let your dog go to town on this frozen treat! Not only will the frozen treat take longer to eat than a normal bowl of food, but your dog will get lots of good mental stimulation from the process. This is especially good for teething puppies or dogs who like to chew. One of my favorites is ½ a mushed up banana, peanut butter, and a little bit of honey, my dogs love it! If your dog is more of a savory kind of pup, try kibble mixed with canned wet dog food. Put a chunk of string cheese in the bottom of the KONG for “dessert”, this one works for most dogs.
  • Tricks – Tricks may seem frivolous to us, but they can actually be one of the very best ways to challenge and expand your dog mentally and physically. Tricks like “sit pretty” require lots of engagement of core muscles. After a few repetitions, you’ll see your dog might need a break. Even simple tricks, such as “shake” can help to work and engage muscles that your dog normally doesn’t use repetitively.
  • Have a Playdate – Find a friend with some friendly dogs, set up a kiddie pool in the backyard, and let the dogs go to town! They will gets lots of great mental and physical stimulation from chasing each other around, and the kiddie pool will help them cool off when needed. Be sure to provide plenty of shade and take breaks in the AC as needed.

 

I hope this gives you some good ideas to stay cool while leaving you with a happy and tired dog!

 

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The cure for jumping on visitors, door dashing, nuisance barking and more!

Posted by gooddogdc on June 20, 2014 at 11:50 AM Comments comments (0)



Check out my clients, Stella and Harry, showing off their place training. Aren’t they cute?!


Place training is one of my all time favorite commands to teach. It is terrific for getting the dog away from the door when someone is coming in, it is terrific for impulse control, it is a great non-punishing way to break up escalating play between two dogs, it is great for keeping the dog from begging at the dinner table, it is a great solution for dogs who bark at the door or windows during specific times of day, and more! I could go on almost forever with this list, I LOVE place training!


To start off, it is easiest to use a clicker and shape your dog. Click-treat any interaction with the bed at all. Gradually withhold your click for only more interactive behaviors, such as a paw on the bed. Eventually, you will work your way to all four paws on the bed, a sit, and finally a down. Make sure to deliver the treats on the bed instead of out of your hand, this will help you dog to associate the treats with the bed itself.


Repeat this several times until your dog is eagarly running to the bed.  At this point, you can add the cue "place" just before your dog goes to run to the bed.  


Do any of you practice place training with your dogs?

Healthy Play with a Size Difference

Posted by gooddogdc on May 31, 2014 at 8:15 AM Comments comments (0)

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Remember that article in the Post from last week?  It got me thinking about healthy play and how few videos are there promoting healthy play in the dog training world.  My two dogs don't play a lot, but they do occassionally they do.  Last night, I was lucky enough to have my iPhone close by to catch the end of it!  Their play is, what I would consider, healthy play. 


The reason that this is healthy play is that both dogs participating equally.  Neither one is being overwhelmed or bullied.  The GSD is self-handicapping by staying in a down position.  They do a lot of mirroring of each other.  I love when at the end, he paws her and she paws him right back!


Even though, this is healthy play that they both really enjoy, their play didn't start out this way at all.  My little dog has a strong history of dog aggression, so her tolerance for other dogs is low to begin with.  My GSD has very strong chase/hunt/herd instincts.  My little dog also looks just like a bunny when she runs (she kicks her two back legs up behind her at the same time and sort of bounces).  This combination was a management nightmare for awhile.  They had to be constantly supervised so that my GSD didn't get to practice any bad habits.  Once he stopped wanting to chase her as much, she started to trust him a bit more and attempted to play with him a few times.  However, my GSD goes 0 to 60 in 1 second and that didn't go well either. 


We actually started setting up "safe" play sessions between the two of them with him on leash.  I would make him stay in a down and encouraged my little one to come over.  Initially, this only worked for a couple seconds before he would get too excited and we'd have to end it.  However, now they can go a couple of minutes without him going over the top.


As painful as it is to do, I actually intervene in their play.  I end it on a good note.  I ended this video just as my little one sat up.  That is usually a sign that she is getting too excited!  After that happens, she will sprint off with her bunny hop to grab a toy and he inevitably will chase - not good.  So, I painfully end the cutest play ever because I know that in the long run I am building a stronger relationship for the two of them and that's what really matters.     

Long Recall Practice

Posted by gooddogdc on May 26, 2014 at 5:30 PM Comments comments (0)

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This is one of my favorite exercises to practice.  Have a friend hold your dog as you run away.  When you get a good distance away, call your dog.  Your dog will likely fly to find you since he will be frustrated at not being able to go with you when you were initially running away.  You can then reward your dog for his super fast recall! (I love that my little one is always the first one there :))


Here is another video that I posted awhile ago of the same exercise.  Only in this video, my friend actually walked him away, same concept though.  By making him move away from me, we were building a ton of drive to get him to want to turn and hurry right back to me!


A dog training secret is that after the recall, if possible, always release right back into the environment!  This keeps the recall nice and strong.  My dogs don't mind coming to me because they know they are going to get something awesome (treat, toy, playtime), and then they are going to get to go right back to what they were doing.


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Happy recalling!


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